To be inlove means to feel like in seventh heaven. Everything becomes vibrant, inspiring, and, of course, happy. Right?
On the other side of the coin, people will tell you being in a long-distance relationship is like being in a suspended honeymoon where the energy is focused on the time spent together, forgetting the other essentials.
For some, LDR means living in a fantasy world. That’s until they realize that we come crashing against reality, too. We are pressured to prioritize, commit, share, and plan in closing the distance sooner.
Indeed, when romance meets reality… get ready for a head-on collision (or maybe not really).
So lately Chris and I have been contemplating on how to start with the next step in our relationship. We’ve been reading a lot about the process of getting married, applying for a visa, and moving to EU together. It was just startling to know how tedious it is to get our papers ready for tying the knot in the Philippines. I personally known someone who just got married here and had our online research verified by my student’s account on how she and her husband (also a German) had spent 8 months to get their papers done for the wedding, and now having to wait again for the family reunion visa process to begin. (It is now on the second month and the marriage certificate from the NSO isn’t available yet.) That’s beside the issue of having to spend about 10,000 euros for the entire duration of the process. It is not really about the money, but it sounds really impractical.
While we were trying to figure out where to exchange our vows, I began to gather the papers we will be needing. You know, to avoid having to rush on things and not able to get everything ready ahead of time. (Add the never-ending queues in the government offices). I was lucky to be living in Iloilo City where many government offices are located.
I started with my expired passport.
I went to the Department of Foreign Affairs inside Robinson’s Mall to apply for a new one and was surprised to have seen a long line by 8AM. Since I was expecting to be done quite fast like the last time I had my passport, I was a bit disappointed. I had to be in the office for a meeting with parents and I couldn’t stay long. I just asked for the form and left. I filled out the papers in the office and returned to DFA early the next day. Yep, I was there at 7 AM and was given a priority number, 106. They only cater 300 applicants a day and that should give you an idea how early you should be there. I suggest preparing your requirements before going there to avoid delays.
Here are the requirements:
As of February 2, the day of my passport renewal, express processing is again available! I decided to avail of this. You just need to add P250.00 to get your passport ready in 10 working days. For a regular application, you need 20 working days to get your new passport.
The application flow is very organized in DFA (as always, based on experience). The preliminary checking is fast and efficient and the office is comfortable too. The only part that takes so much time is for your biometrics. I spent about 3 hours waiting for my name to be called. By noon, the officers had advised us to eat our lunch first and return for the data encoding. I had to wait again for another 30 minutes after I get back from my 30-minute lunch in the mall.
So far, the first process went well. However, you have to devote a day for this which is especially difficult if you have a job (it so happens that we had a school holiday on a weekday and I was able to get these done.) My passport is ready for pick up on February 18th! 🙂
Next stop: NSO (Birth Certificate and CENOMAR)
Since I cannot leave my job anytime, I was determined to finish the processing of papers in a day as much as I can. It was 1:30 PM when I went out of DFA, so I proceeded to the National Statistics Office in front of Amigo Terrace Hotel. The tent they provided for those who came to transact business is full of people and there seemed to be no available chair for me. This is in an open area and it was a hot day, so you know how it smells, right? I looked at the screen for the priority number at it displayed 460. I looked around and saw about 400 more.
I took some forms and went to SM Delgado to have my request there instead. They process NSO papers with an additional P20.00 processing fee for each document you request. You have to wait for a week to get this ready, though, so if you have a fulltime job and can’t really devote the whole day for this, this is the option for you. I paid P140.00 (plus P20.00 for the processing) for my birth certificate, and P195.00 (plus P20.00) for my CENOMAR.
I went back to SM yesterday to get my documents. I was pleased that they are ready as promised but I was a bit disappointed coz there was a mistake on my CENOMAR. It was a good thing I checked the details of the paper before I left the counter, so I immediately returned it to the costumer service employee. They took it back, and said they will have it replaced with the correct information. She took my phone number to communicate with me easily as to when the replacement is available. Good job, SM Costumer Service Counter. 🙂 I hope I can get it on time too. 🙂
The next step will be to get other documents. We anticipate additional requirements from the embassy when we apply for our family reunion visa as we are planning to skip the tedious process of marrying in the Philippines and doing it abroad instead.
We better be ready and armed before we start with the next steps. Based on what we’ve read and what others have advised us, the following are to be prepared:
- My baptismal certificate
- Record on the National Index of Marriages (after the wedding, approximately 2-3 months)
- Form 137 from my elementary school, duly authenticated (red-ribboned)
- 2 passport sized pictures
- 1 whole body picture (5R)
- 2 passport sized picture of my mom
- Signed Waiver for Document Review
- Copy of my passport’s information page and last page
- Handwritten account about the place where I was born and live until the age of 15, and from 15 until the present
- My parents’ marriage certificate
- Birth certificate of my siblings (3) from NSO
- My father’s Death Certificate
*** School records (Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree) for future references and assessments.
The list could go on but for now, this is what we know. We will see what’s waiting ahead.