pinoys and their pearly whites

i had just come across the department of foreign affairs' guidelines for applying for the new machine-readable passport. as my current green passport has sort of crisped and baconed from getting moist during my last climb to mount kinabalu, i'm keen on getting this new red passport and all its security measures. i'm not really updated on the small details but we have a commitment, by way of a treaty, to phase out all old passports, and issue only machine-readable passports by a certain date which we nearly missed due to litigation (similar to PIATCO really, where the losing bidder went to the SC to nullify the contract). anyway, interestingly, while i was in BKK, i met someone who worked for the ministry of justice in thailand, specifically for the central institute of forensic science. she is a forensic document examination trainee, and her job is to analyze documents, specifically identification cards and travel documents (such as passports), find out ways by which they may be tampered with or forged, or try to come up with security measures to prevent the falsification of these documents. she asked if she could see my IDs and my passport (she basically gasped when she saw that my IBP ID was printed by a machine that may be commercially bought, and had no other security feature outside of the non-functional bar code), and i was a bit amused by her question when she saw the big toothy grin i had on all my identification documents: are you allowed to smile in your ID photos?

i wouldn't say it's a cultural thing: thailand is called the land of smiles and they seem like a happy bunch, but i think that pinoys -- and a french guy based in indonesia had to say: if filipinos smile much more than indonesians, then you must be a very happy people -- are the smilingest people in the whole world! really, i'm not kidding! we smile even when there's no reason to smile -- which is also a good reason, and which often makes us look either stupid or maybe even slightly cuckoo -- and even when the country has one of the least impressive national dental health statistics of all.

so anyway, going back to the new passport requirements, there is actually an official policy on this. whereas in thailand they're not allowed to smile for their passport (even ID) photos, the DFA specifically says that smiling is possible, although the mona lisa smile would be appropriate. don't believe me? check out the guidelines on my link above.
ay totoo yan: about the brits. haha. oo nga eh, andaming nag-aabang kung sino ang maswerteng makakakuha ng libreng buffet dinner. abangan natin...