If you haven’t heard of the term “Fixer” basically what it is is someone who can “Express Lane” you or get things organised quickly such as driving licenses, visa renewals at the immigration or for another country for your partner.
One thing you quickly realise if your in the Philippines long term is it just doesn’t pay to use a fixer. From the experiences I’ve had with them most of them haven’t got a clue what they are doing and bumbling through things you could probably do a lot quicker and smoother yourself. Unless you didn’t want to wait. But if your not willing to wait for visa renewals for example I can get that dealt with for you. Collected from the hotel/residence and delivered back to you after processing. I once used a fixer who worked at immigration to process my paperwork on my first stay in Cebu. Cost me around P1300 for the service and I still had to wait while it was processed. Benefits? maybe 30 mins to an hour. But then again P1300 pretty much pays for a whole night out at a good restaurant so would have been better just to sit and chat with my wife and process it ourselves.
Some friends of ours also had a fixer “try” to organise a few things which then resulted in us helping our friends out as not only was the fixer fees extortionate (on one of the things they had stuck an extra few zeros on the end) they also couldn’t make it possible and nearly caused a major disaster as the fixer had said they could do something which quickly became apparent was impossible. The fixer had promised they would make a judge available for a wedding for a fee of around P10,000 in reality though judges wont move into other judges areas due to a scandal that occurred in Cebu last year to do with accusations of bribe taking. So they all stop in they’re own provinces unless “requested” and generally has to be the fact that the judge in that province is unavailable. So the result was we ended up with a rush to help our friends find a judge and luckily enough the area where the wedding was taking place there are several judges and the cost was only around P100 (Yes One Hundred not ten thousand).
But one thing I will say is a lot of what happens is because so many people are looking for a quick route but a lot of the time its easier to wait. But also the fact a lot of the fixers don’t know what they are doing and just trying to make quick money. For example I wouldn’t trust anyone to process visas for someone to an embassy because if its done wrong it could stop your partner ever coming to your country of origin. But I might use a travel agent if your on a short stay to get your paperwork processed for a visa extension but even then that would be a last resort as it doesn’t take long to do it yourself.
So what’s the moral of the story? Simply don’t use fixers.. they are stealing from you and it is encouraging corruption for people who should be doing in a lot of cases the job for free (as most of the time its their job). We cant complain about corruption and at the same time be abusing the system. If you want your time used to your best ability while sat waiting or standing in a queue get an idea of timescale and note the whole process. Drop me an email and ill publish it. Even better if you can get photos etc. of the building you went to e.g. for getting a Philippines driving license so that we can create a database of information so the next people going can read your article and get an idea of what to expect.