1. First of all, I did not learn what the acronym "P.O." stands for. For once in my life, Wikipedia failed me. The nearest it could come up with was "purchase order" but when I read the actual article on purchase orders, it didn't sound anything like a P.O. card.
2. A P.O. card is not a card. It's a piece of paper that looks a bit like a water or electricity bill. You know, with a row of holes on both ends. If you've never had to deal with either bills or P.O. cards in your life, you're lucky. (Or you're still largely dependent on your parents, which I also am.)
3. What a P.O. card is, is, like, the poor man's credit card. (No offense to the P.O. card users out there. Hey, as of this afternoon, I'm one of you!) The card-that-is-not-a-card is worth a certain amount. You buy the card, you buy stuff using the card, and you pay [cash] at a later date.
4. HOW TO BUY A CARD: I got mine from Opaw, who got it from his sister, who is a registered Guarantor at Metro - Ayala. (I don't actually know that they have to register, but she has a Guarantor's ID number, so it's a good guess, if I may say so myself.)
If you don't know a Guarantor, I recommend just hanging around the store's P.O. Card Verification and Payments area. There's bound to be a Guarantor there somewhere.
Anyway, I got a card worth P500, and I paid P25 for the card itself. The actual P500 I have to pay in four installments spaced 15 days apart. (Aren't you just learning a lot? Hehe. Because I am.)
5. FILL THE CARD UP. Write your name, address, whatever information they require. This is the easiest part.
6. Next, GET THE CARD VERIFIED. Ask the guard or the salespeople where this is done. In Metro - Ayala, you do this at the 4th floor (the one where there are kitchen stuff and fabric and electronics). Bring a valid ID. (As the people in front of me at the queue learned to their dismay, no, a cedula will not do.) The lady behind the counter scans the card, tears half off, and gives you back the other half.
7. SHOP. Almost as easy as filling up the card, except that you have to use up the entire value of the card on the same day. And they won't give you change. You can spend it on separate purchases, though; after one transaction, the cash register prints the card's balance at the back. Oh, and the whole process is called "franking."
At Metro - Ayala, surcharges are applied if you use the P.O. card on groceries or at the pharmacy. And if the item you buy is on sale, there's a surcharge of 5%.
(So, if an item originally costs P100, and it goes on sale at 5% off, and you buy it with a P.O. card...
Relax, you still get a balance of 25 cents off. That's still something, compared to...well, compared to nothing.)
8. PAY UP. Of course.
The inevitable verdict: Cash is better. Unless you don't have it.