Last Oct. 22, I went to the Court of Appeals to request two sets of documents— certified copies of a Decision and Entry of Judgment that were vital to the resolution of our civil case at a lower court. Given the past experiences I have had with other government offices in the past, I was prepared for another “rough” experience ahead. But for some reason, I kept reminding myself that if I had made it in a foreign land for 25 years despite being treated as a third-class citizen at every turn, there was every reason I’d anywhere, what more in my native land.
Was I in for a pleasant surprise! Walking tentatively toward the gate while asking for directions, a guard obligingly directed me to the next gate. (The tone of his voice made me feel welcome. He could have just motioned me to use the next gate, but he saw the person seeking help, albeit a complete stranger, a customer he was duty-bound to serve with dignity and respect.) Thanks to the clear instructions at the gate, I got to my destination in no time at all.
But having been used to being ignored in other offices in the past and having had to wait for days or even weeks before a request could be granted, I could not afford to let my guard down and trust that things would be different at this court.
All the doubts vanished the moment the lady clerk at the archives office dropped everything, looked me straight in the eye, smiled and asked how she might be able to help. “Wow,” I muttered to myself, “could this be for real!” When she found out I needed to get a certified true copy of a certain document, she quickly stood up, led me to the next room and introduced me to a colleague who was just as busy but had to pause and hear me out. As if on cue, those involved in retrieving the document from their voluminous files got into action, letting up only when the paper was found. While all this was going on, I was asked to wait at their reception area, assured that the request would be addressed expeditiously. I was then asked to pay the charges at the cashier’s office on the other side of the building.
Midway, I bumped into a janitor who was only too willing to help me find my bearings. The young man dropped the cleaning equipment and all and walked me to the cashier’s office. With the charges paid for and receipt in hand, I hurried back to the archives office to claim the certified true copy, which was already waiting for pickup. Impressed by the efficiency of the staff and the incredibly fast pace at which the request was processed, I expressed my wholehearted appreciation, to which their head promptly responded, “We are simply doing our job, sir.” And if that was not enough, one of the lady clerks, sensing that I didn’t quite know where my second stop was, walked me out of their office and went so far as to lead me to my second destination.
The second stop was at the reporters’ department, where I had to request certified true copies of the sought-for documents. There being two documents involved, I was expecting a more tedious process. To my pleasant surprise, the operating procedure was just as straightforward, devoid of delays and complications. The receptionist was just as accommodating, customer-friendly and goal-driven. In less than an hour, both documents were ready.
I could not believe the good fortune I had that day, let alone the best of the Filipino spirit playing out all in the name of public service and outgoing concern for those in need. Seeing the need to express my heartfelt gratitude to and appreciation for the institution and the men and women running it, I asked to see the gentleman next door who came across as one of the pillars of the Court of Appeals. On seeing me enter his room and extend my hand, he stood up, asked me to take my seat and leaned over as if to say, “I am all eyes and ears.” Not wanting to take up much of his precious time, I had to briefly hand it to him as succinctly as possible, “Sir, the work ethic in this court has impressed me beyond words. Through your exemplary performance and extraordinary public service, ladies and gentlemen of the Court of Appeals, I am immensely proud I am a Filipino.”