Here are my top five do's and don'ts if you have to wait especially at popular places like the Embassy of the United States.
1. Don't bring electronic equipment inside and this means telephone, calculator, camera including any spray items like perfume, cologne, alcogel, throat spray. In case you have no driver to call to pick up the prohibited items and you parked far far away, don't fret. There is a coop business thriving where some kind of hawker peddles their time to guard your items for P200.
2. Don't assume. Read instructions properly. The required photo is against a white background. I guess I got confused because recently, the Department of Foreign Affairs changed the required passport shots to be against a blue background. In case you missed this, don't panic, there is a photo booth inside the pavilion which costs P70 for six mug shots. Well, you get what you pay for!
3. Do fill out all the items in the application form - both the DCS176 and the bank form. Don't leave any item blank. Just put 'none' if there is none. I discovered that this was the cause of the long wait at the queue. Applicants who did not fill out the form properly were asked to go to the side counter and complete the missing items. They would then go back where they left off, right at the top of the line. Duh!
4. Dress for hot conditions. The crowded pavilion was stewing at 30 degrees. I completely forgot about my visa appointment and was wearing of all things a knit top!
5. Do expect to wait 3-4 hours and even longer. Since this is Manila, I was not surprised when the brownout occurred. I was shocked though that it took the Embassy some minutes to get the power back on and appalled that the finger scan machine conked out! Bring a good book as a distraction to all these unpleasant conditions.
When I left at 4pm, the number being called out was 3,800 so i guess they must be processing at least 2-3,000 applications per day? At 100 dollars visa fee, hmmmm... do the math.