Dropping by with a quick life update.
A couple of days ago my mom said we had to pay for real estate tax. (This is a very adulting post, I know). This is a yearly obligation that land and property owners pay at the start of the year. We pay one month in advance to avail of the 20% discount in Parañaque City. It’s a very simple but also very tedious process. I don’t remember it ever taking longer than an hour. That was the old normal.
As a millennial, my first agenda was to google whether or not the city hall’s policies have changed due to the pandemic. I hoped for transformative adjustments. Maybe, finally, there’s a cashless way to pay the tax, so I wouldn’t have to withdraw thousands of pesos from a public ATM. I wouldn’t have to do the back-and-forth of cash payment and change. I was also hoping against hope that there would be an online way to settle the tax, so I wouldn’t have to go out and about in the first place. GCash? BPI? PayMaya? The government’s buggy Moneygment app? I’d take anything at this point.
But alas. The City Hall’s webpage advertises online services, but none of the many listed services actually work. Zero active links. There’s been a MOA between the city and PayMaya for cashless payments since August, but I can’t find that solution on my app. It’s not under Government or Real Estate billing.
So in the ‘new normal’, it is still very much manual. What’s worse: it was also very much crowded. Miss Rona who?
I woke up at 7AM to make it into the city hall right as it opens. Our neighbor and I tried to beat the rush, but somehow we got there around 9AM (
okay we passed by Jollibee for drive-thru breakfast). I still got a queue number as high as 200-something. And it was an actual queue number, written on cardboard paper and everything. Any process that could possibly have been automated… wasn’t.
There was human labor behind every step. The queue numbers for each window were distributed by staff. Instead of flashing the numbers on a digital screen or having a centralized speaker, six or so staff members had to shout the next number or use a microphone or write on a whiteboard. To each their own style. And an actual person kept going through the aisles telling people to wear their masks and face shields properly. Everywhere I went that morning, people kept wearing their face shields up like a headband. Can you please look like you’re even trying?
I had to go through three different lines for three fairly short processes –assessment of property, generation of statement of account, and payment in cash. The whole thing still took me at least 90 minutes thanks to all the queuing.
Upon reflection, literally no part of real estate tax payment required verification of identity or interview regarding the property. It was all just shuffling papers and printing more papers. Why is there still no accessible online payment option? Real estate tax payment happens every year. It’s not like it’s a surprise? Where is the drive to innovate? @Mayor
There’s a line between preserving jobs (
such as, you know, the job of handing out queue numbers?) and also creating efficiency. There’s also a giant line that says maybe the many many senior citizens I saw filling up the queue could have been put at less risk if an online option was available.
As a last side note, I want to thank the friendly and helpful staff of Parañaque City Hall. There was a standout woman who even walked with us to the new processing venue outside the city hall since we looked pretty lost. I wish for better circumstances for all of you.
Have a good day! Meanwhile, I will respectfully drag this city to the digital age.