Saturday, March 24, 2018

2018 Achievement: Non-Professional Driver's License

Up until 2017, I've always had "learning to drive" as part of my personal goals, but there was no push mainly because I don't own a car. ("What's the point?" was how I thought.) I didn't want to purchase one, yet because a car isn't an asset but a liability as it only depreciates over time. Plus, I've already mastered the art of commuting - haggard pero kaya naman. LOL! We only had one old car at home which was my dad's everyday car to and from work. I didn't want to borrow and risk it. Then before the TRAIN law was passed, my dad finally bought a new car so his old one can retire. My younger sister who got excited with the spare car actually enrolled in driving school ahead of me. The week before Chinese New Year, my dad was driving me to pick up my laundry and suddenly asked me, "Ann already knows how to drive, how about you?" (SO PRESSURE. Haha) To which I answered, "Sige, next week." And so I enrolled at Xcel in Fisher Mall ASAP. I didn't canvass other driving school prices anymore since Xcel had the most convenient location for me, turns out I got lucky since their rates are actually cheaper than other driving schools.

Disclaimer: This post is definitely not sponsored. 😝

Before you enroll, you have to have your Student Permit ready. Getting this one is easy and you won't need any licensing assistance (save your money!). I was able to get mine at SM North EDSA Annex. Visit LTO's website for the list of requirements.

Student Permit Fee at SM North EDSA Annex as of February 12, 2018:
  • LTO: P317.63 (might as well be P317.75 since you will never get the exact change)
  • Medical exam: P350.00 (done at their partner lab also at SM Annex, very basic and not worth the amount but at least may computerized eye exam so I finally know my eye grade)
  • SM's service fee: P5.00 (there is such a thing?)
  • TOTAL: P672.75

LTO at SM North EDSA Annex was pretty efficient. I went on a Monday morning around 11AM, and was able to get my student permit in about an hour.

Next stop, Xcel at Fisher Mall!

I enrolled the 10 hours automatic sedan course (P8,000). No discount even if I'm a sales-talker, but I was able to get additional 2 hours. 👍 It pays to not be shy and ask. Hehe 😉 I also liked Xcel's service right off the bat. I asked them if in case I didn't like my instructor, can I have him/her changed on my next lessons? Their friendly staff told me in case that should happen, I can just text him and I won't see the instructor ever again. How delightful! Haha.

The reason I asked was because my sister C who enrolled in another driving school at Frisco had was assigned an unprofessional driving instructor. Her instructor expected her to know the basics of driving and would express disapproval (like saying "Tsk!"/raising his voice) whenever she would not know what to do or when she committed a mistake. Because my sister was pretty young then, she wasn't assertive. There was even a time that the instructor intentionally made her pass by a route during the lesson only to pick up his friend. WTF? My sister never finished her lesson since she couldn't request for a change of instructor. Hindi puede sakin yan! 

Thankfully, the instructors I encountered at Xcel were all nice. 🌟

Day 1 - Toyota Vios (super new and nice!)

At Xcel, they follow a lesson plan/checklist depending on the course you enroll. The 10-hour course is already a complete driving lesson, but 15 hours is more recommended if you have zero knowledge in driving. Mine's at 10+2 hours, so I'm somewhere in between. They even have a 30-hour course with money back guarantee! I had my lessons at 2 hours per session.

Day 2 - A taste of SUV

I enrolled in a sedan course because it's cheaper, but this day we had to pick up the SUV from their Espana branch for the next student, so I was able to drive a Toyota Fortuner for 30 minutes.

Day 3 - Back to Vios in my least favorite color so no selfie. Haha

Day 4 - back to the black Vios

Hack: A drive-thru practice is scheduled at the 15th hour based on the lesson plan, but tell the instructor you're hungry so you can have a drive-thru driving lesson. Make sure to thank him by treating him to a snack! 😁

Today, I discovered a car freshener that I actually agree with. Most of them make me dizzy but this one has a subtle coffee and caramel scent. It's also cheap at P130, now if only I knew where I could buy this... Help! ☕

Day 5 - Happy Sunday since I was assiged an SUV instead of a sedan! Lucky 🍀

I now prefer SUV over sedan since I'm tiny and it's actually easier for me to see the road and what lies ahead via SUV since it's higher.

Day 6 - Last day AKA graduation day. Look at my car today!!! 😍

Xcel let me drive the new Ford Ranger Wildtrak - what a way to end my lessons! I admit to not know much about cars yet but this one's a beauty!

Disclaimer: I was able to drive SUVs because they're the available cars at the moment my lessons were scheduled, but my sister who also enrolled at a 7-hour automatic sedan course drove sedans all throughout.

After my lessons, I attended a lecture which happened on a Saturday, 1-5PM. This is free! I think this is a very important step not all driving schools offer since here, we were given a lecture on defensive driving, road discipline, traffic rules and regulations, traffic violations and penalties, driving during emergencies, minor trouble shooting, and preventive maintenance. We were also given a written exam which served as our reviewer for LTO's exam, plus a free snack and bottled water.

Xcel also offers LEGAL licensing assistance (P1,850 for a Non-Professional Driver's License) if you complete a course in their driving school. You will have to get your license only at the San Juan Licensing Center. (I don't know why this is their preferred branch, but my sister and I went anyway.) Again, please visit LTO's website for the list of requirements.


Tip: Save P10 when you bring a black/blue BALLPEN. Not gel pen, not sign pen, not pencil. I thought I was so prepared since I had 2 gel pens in my bag.  Napabili tuloy ako ng unwanted ballpen. 😑

The process was simple as I recall: submit payment + ADL form > medical exam > photo then written exam > if you passed the written exam you can proceed to the next step which is a practical driving exam, may be waived if you enrolled in Xcel driving school (not sure for other driving schools) > fill out another form then have your photo taken > claim license.

I appreciated that Xcel had someone to assist us and tell us what to do and where to go that day, so we didn't seem like lost sheep, but it still took me and my sister 6.5 hours before we got our licenses. Our companions were luckier since they were done in 5 hours. What ticked me off was our papers (for the actual license card) were submitted at the same time, but our new friend claimed her license at 1:08PM, and at 2:08PM I wasn't called yet to have my photo taken. Ano naaaaa. This gives me the impression of inefficiency. Can someone please enlighten me if 6.5 hours was slow/normal/fast? Because for me, if the people only moved faster and more efficiently, then we could all get things done quicker. But then, maraming tao lagi sa LTO so baka pagod yung staff.

Also, my sister's date of birth was different on LTO's records (probably a typo from the one who processed her student permit), and when LTO had to edit, they charged her P100 for it. I couldn't fathom them committing an error and charging you for them to correct the error they made. 😞

Finally, we're done! 😂 I now have my Non-Professional Driver's License + certificate from Xcel. Chocolates not included, but they're my personal rewards for a long day at LTO. 🍫 Next time I'm renewing my license (after 5 years, YAY!), I'm going back to LTO in SM Annex and not San Juan. Whew.

Xcel Driving School Fisher Mall in Quezon Avenue
Upper basement entrance door (near Macao Imperial Tea)

All rates mentioned above are subject to change without prior notice. I just shared my personal experience.

Hope this post helps! As for me, now I can drive my dad to the mall on Sundays. More practice nalang sa parking. 😊💖


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