I live in the province (i.e. not in Manila) therefore sometimes, procedures that you find online on how to do certain things don't necessarily apply to me/my situation/my case.
For example. If you Google "passport renewal, Philippines" you'll find that they would ask you to go to http://www.passport.gov.ph/ so you can schedule your appointment at the DFA office near you, bring the requirements on the day, pay for your passport, wait for it to arrive and that's pretty much it.
Here in the province, if there was a provincial version of Google, it will probably tell you to:
1. Go to different travel agents that accommodate Passport Renewals.
2. If you're in a hurry, look for the agency that offers the earliest schedule. If you're not in a hurry and just need a day that works, then just choose the agency that charges the cheapest.
3. On your scheduled appointment date, bring your requirements, go to the meeting place for the shuttle service, go to the DFA, follow the travel agency man, go home.
Where we live, Passport Renewal services offered by travel agencies always include a shuttle to the DFA and back (since the nearest DFA office — at least from the town where I live — is 40 kms away) plus lunch. In my experience when I had renewed mine 2 years before, the lunch was Jollibee. (Buti na lang mahilig ako sa Palabok. 😁) Some people make use of travel agencies because of the shuttle. Some who has means of transportation (like us) still use a travel agency because they can get you an earlier appointment.
HOWEVER. If the travel agency you've chosen tells you to prepare unnecessary documents such as PSA Birth Certificate (unless you're a minor), Marriage Contract, Civil Registry Form 3A Marriage Certificate (for married individuals) and Civil Registry Form 1A Birth Certificate (for single individuals) — RUN. Don't engage with that agency. They're idiots. You don't need those documents when you renew your passports. You just need your old passport, and a valid government issued ID. That's it.
I made the mistake of going to an agency (refer to as Agency I — I for idiot) that asked for those documents because my parents wanted to renew their passport as soon as possible and they were the one that offered the earliest date. So I got up and went to get those documents anyway even though deep down I knew they were totally unnecessary.
A few days before their scheduled DFA appointment date, I received a call from the agency asking if it was okay for us to go to the city, 25 kms away from where we live, the meeting point for the shuttle, so that we (my parents) can join the briefing with the other people also scheduled to go to DFA that day.
WHAT BRIEFING? This is only for Passport Renewals! I told Agency I "no-can-do, boo boo" because it's too far and I already told her when I paid for her services that we would go to DFA ourselves. She said she already told that to her "mother travel agent" but she said that the "officer" they're in contact with insists that the briefing was totally necessary. Super mema talaga. Passport renewal lang, no! Hindi ito visa interview.
Here's the thing. My sister had her passport renewed the week before (she got an earlier date than my parents) using a different travel agency (Agency K). Agency I and Agency K use the same mother travel agent and she wasn't subjected to a briefing. Or was asked unnecessary documents like a birth certificate or Form 1A. She just gave her postal ID and passport, went to DFA (by herself) on her appointment date, the end. (She was at the DFA at 10:00 AM, but travel agency man arrived after lunch; I don't know what went on there but she got her passport renewed that's the important thing — still, from my point of view, the travel agency FAILED because I hate waiting.)
To Agency I's defense, she offered me a different date with a different mother travel agent and this time this mother wasn't asking for any unnecessary documents (malamang, kasi meron na syang kopya) or will be doing any unnecessary briefing but the date was 2 weeks after the original date my parents were scheduled to go so I just asked if I can have a refund instead — because I just remembered, my parents just became Senior Citizens and didn't have to have an appointment and can go when they want to. DUH. Agency I did give me a refund and was able to give me my parents passports the day after. Unsurprisingly, the other folks who was also scheduled to go same day as we were also requested for a refund, probably got turned off because of the "briefing". Seriously, it was a little bit insulting. The people who live here are ma-pride. "Yes we are probinsyanos, but that doesn't mean we are tanga, so don't treat us like we don't know stuff" kind of mentality.
My parents went to DFA the next day, Saturday, (with me, ako na si Travel Agent) and got their passports renewed. No birth certificate, marriage certificate was required — just their passport, passport application form, and their senior citizen's ID was enough. (If you didn't bring a photocopy of your requirements, there's almost always a photocopying machine nearby but it's always more convenient to come prepared)
So really, the biggest take away from this lengthy post of mine is: if you can avoid having to use a travel agency when renewing your passports, AVOID. Just do it on your own.
I'm not a senior citizen so unlike my parents, I need a scheduled appointment. Today is 12 July 2017. The latest date available to choose on the Passport.Gov website is the first week of January 2018. So give or take five months before your passport expires (or the date when it only has six months of validity left) schedule your renewal date or else run the risk of having to use a travel agency which I never want to do anymore.
My passport expires on 19 July 2020. I can no longer use my passport beyond 19-January 2020. As early as 19 July 2019, I need to schedule my passport renewal date.