Sunday, June 21, 2015

And She's Got To Get Herself Back to the Garden

For over four years I have been unable to accompany my wife Lydia on her monthly visits to her home province of Quezon in Southern Luzon. This week I  finally did so. Our destination was the  town of Gumaca which is about 6 1/2 hours by bus from Metro Manila.  The scenery along the way in the countryside between towns is lush and verdant,.  which combined with the fact that there were no major delays made the ride fairly pleasant.

This was a special trip for me not just due to the length of time since my last visit, but mainly because this is first time that I've seen the work that has been done on a special project that Lydia started several months ago: renovation of our old house that we had built there many years ago, but which had fallen into ruin as it had not been occupied or properly attended to after we returned to the U.S. and subsequent occupants failed to properly maintain the property. Finally, it was abandoned altogether. and thieves stripped away many of the furnishings. 

Initially, when we returned to the Philippines 10 years ago,  we had planned to sell the property. However,  it turns out that all along  Lydia had really wanted us to have a house in the barrio, a place that we could call our own  no matter how modest and to which we could escape every so often from the urban jungle of Metro-Manila. to the very type of green countryside environment that I saw en route to Gumaca. Importantly, she wanted us to have a place to which we could also permanently relocate if for whatever reason life in the city should become unbearable.

Moreover, she wanted to be able  fulfill her passion for gardening  and landscaping as well as for interior design.  Lydia has done a beautiful job with the latter here in our leased condominium in Eastwood City.  Yet in her mind it's just not the same as decorating one's own home. Now she will be able to indulge her passion for both inside and outside artistry  to her heart's content. In fact she is well on her way to realizing her vision via the unique style in which she is having our house rebuilt. The design  that Lydia created is what she calls   "Hobbit House" and as such is rather whimsical. The roof is a burgundy red;  the front door which is oval shaped(!) will be painted blue-gray; the living room window is circular; and the back door has flower carvings. The cottage itself  is surrounded by a garden with flowers in splashing colors, and right behind the house is a mountain which completes the storybook-like setting. 

And now that I've finally seen the results for myself, I'm totally onboard and couldn't be more proud of her dreams and the  steps that she taken to fulfill them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Globe Telecom's Failure to Connect

Until the late 1990's there was only one telephone company in the Philippines, Philippine Long Distance Teleophone aka PLDT, which controlled all phone services both local and long distance here . As a result of this monopoly, phone communications in the this country were abysmal. Just obtaining a land line usually meant a wait of several months. Phone use itself was beset with problems such as dial tones outages, poor
reception,dropped calls, and obsolete equipment.

When the market for this utility was opened up to other players, telephone availability and service improved  especially with the explosive growth in popularity of cell phones. However  mobile phone service providers themselves can also often be unresponsive to or inept in addressing customer complaints, or they make promotion offers that they don't keep. In both these areas, I've had unresolved issues, specifically with Globe Telecom through whom my wife Lydia and I have prepaid service for our mobile phones.

A few months ago I received a message from Globe requesting my participation in a  customer survey, the reward for which was supposed to be  one day of unlimited free calls. But when I completed the survey questionnaire, Globe failed to live up to its end of the deal. I pursued the issue for some time and out of frustration finally settled for a P25 addition to my prepaid load.

However, the biggest problem with Globe was their inability to fix a loss of the load status retrieval service on Lydia's phone. This function is normally a simple process of creating the message "Bal"and then sending to 222 or alternatively to *143#. But she could no longer get a reply when entering these codes.

So as per Globe's recommendation, through a process of elimination she determined that there was no problem with her SIM card which was originally thought to be the source of the malfunction, and therefore the cause must be either the phone itself or  with the Globe network. As it turned out, it was the latter:  When we placed a SIM card from another service provider, SMART Communications, into her phone and executed the load amount request function from that network, it worked just fine. I apprised Globe of this outcome, and they promised to resolve the matter once and for all within one week but after several weeks and more of their unfulfilled assurances, we gave up. Lydia permanently switched her unit to SMART. However, In doing so, of course this meant a change in phone number and all the inconveniences and hassles which accompany that process. But the alternative of using a prepaid  cellphone without knowing the remaining load balance means the likelihood of an unexpected zero balance service cutoff in the middle of a call or text. And who needs that kind of stress?   

Perhaps Globe was just telling us what we wanted to hear all along , which is a practice in Philippine culture,  and had no intention of taking care of our complaint.  At any rate, their claim of advanced state of the art prowess is meaningless  hype if at the end of the day they cannot deliver reliable customer service to their subscribers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Level of Awareness: Why Expats Need to Keep Up With Local Current Events

As a permanent resident in the Philippines, I try to stay informed about political events in this country, even though I'm a non-citizen and can't vote or otherwise directly participate in civic matters. But politics is a popular topic of discussion in the Philippines; so it's important to be conversant on these matters.  One way to stay on top of things here is via the  local daily newspapers. Personally, my favorite broadsheets  are the "Philippine Daily Inquirer" and "The "Philippine Star". Their coverage of news and of socioeconomic and political analysis is comprehensive, and their columnists in the opinion section offer excellent analyses of these events.

One of the major news stories that I've been following in these journals is the slaughter on Jan. 25 of 44 police commandos who were ambushed by hostile Moro forces while trying to capture two notorious terrorists hiding in the latter's midst.  In the course of the gun battle one of the fugitives was killed and the other escaped.This incident took place in Mamasapanto, Maguindanao, which is in the southern part of the Philippines (Mindanao). This island has been a hotspot of unrest and rebellion for hundreds of years,   carried out by the Muslim majority (Moros) of that region.  As separatists they've never fully integrated into Philippine society. Thus they feel little if any allegiance to the  Philippine  central government and would likely try to secede from the country if given the opportunity. As will be seen below, that scenario may yet come to pass.

Since the 1960's the rebels have stepped up their hostilities   In an effort to pacify them,  the Philippine government has worked out  with the  MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front)  leaders in that region an agreement known as the BBL (Basic Bangsamoro Law) and which is now under deliberation by the Philippine Congress and by their MILF counterparts.  This arrangement would increase the scope of Muslim self rule in that area  presently called the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), which itself came about as a territorial concession that the government granted in a previous deal years ago. The new treaty would in effect make this area a state within a state. Due to this and other  questionable provisions, the BBL may  violate the Philippine Constitutional. But  rather than change the terms of the BBL to fit that charter, there is a movement to amend the Constitution to fit the BBL. Talk about the tail wagging the dog!

And come to think of it, the BBL is reminiscent of another government plan in  2008 called the Bangsamoro Juridicial Entity which would have also given away the store to the Moros.  But fortunately the BJE was nixed by the Philippine Supreme Court.  So by going down that same road, again the BBL offer demonstrates how intent (some might say desperate) the government is to stabilize that region.

But can the MILF be trusted? Initially, the Philippines signed a peace treaty in the 1996 with a rebel movement known  as the MNLF, (Moro National Liberation Front). In turn the MILF itself is a breakaway faction from the MNLF and has supplanted the latter. And even though the MILF is conducting negotiations with the  government, it readily acknowledges itself as still being a revolutionary movement.

To add to the mix, now there is a breakaway  splinter group from the MILF called the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) which claims responsibility for the attack on the commandos. Yet as the result of family ties, there is an affinity between these two factions.And Maguindanao is not only a volatile locale in terms of its relations with the Philippine central government. There are also continual feuds and outbreaks of violence among the various tribes and powerful families there, one of which in 2009 resulted in another massacre. That one took the lives of 57 civilians.

So if the BBL becomes law, whether it will really improve the relationship between the Moros and the Philippine government is questionable.As noted above, previous such agreements which were hailed as breakthroughs have in the end fallen through instead usually because of bad faith by the Moro rebels. With the additional powers that the BBL would grant them,  the next step in terms of any further demands by the rebels may be the ultimate one: total independence from the Philippines.

So there we have it:  a news event that includes some of the politics, culture, and history of this country. The more that we as expats  know about this and other issues going on around us whether they are at the barangay, municipal, or national government level, not only can we then discuss these issues intelligently with the citizenry, but  importantly, the more we can also understand local culture. In turn this will facilitate our adjusting to life in the Philippines accordingly. .

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How to Prepare for Passport Renwals And Embassy Visits

U.S. passports of course have expiration dates. So if you hold this document, there will come a time when you must renew it. If you live abroad, this procedure will differ from country to country depending on the dictates of the local U.S.embassy in the land  where you happen to reside.  For those Americans in the Philippines, here is a link to the steps you must take in order to fulfill the requirements for passport renewals as set forth by the local embassy .  As you can see,  a trip to that office must be made to pay the renewal fee. Interestingly, when my wife renewed her passport a few years, she was able to conveniently complete the entire process by courier, including the remittance.So American embassy rules may not only differ by locale, but from one time period to another within the same country.

The American embassy here is a sprawling complex located in Manila on Roxas Blvd near the corner of United Nations Avenue. Lines both for Filipinos who are applying for  visas to enter the U.S. and for American citizens conducting business with U.S. Citizen Services begin forming around 6:00 a.m. So unless you have an appointment for your transaction,  try to arrive there around that time.

When I went to the embassy cashier's office (which opens at  7:30--no appointments required) last week to pay for my passport renewal, it was only my second time that I'd been to the embassy in the nine years I've lived in the Philippines. So  I forgot to include  that "early bird" factor in my itinerary  and thought that by leaving home around 6:00  that I would beat the crowd. No such luck. Traffic was heavy, and when I arrived at 7:15, the U.S. citizens service was already packed with a long queue waiting to enter.  So it took almost an hour  (including being processed at the security  check point) before I reached the cashier section and about another 20 minutes of waiting time in that department before I was served. The payment process itself took about 10 minutes. According to the cashier, my new passport will be delivered in about two weeks.

BTW if you will be required to present personal identification for your dealings at the embassy, bring along two sets as you will be required to leave one of them with  the security checkpoint before entering the main building. Any bags you're carrying will be carefully inspected.  You must also surrender your mobile phone and other electronic equipment that you've brought along. So be sure to advise any important contacts ahead of time that you will be out of touch with them possibly for a couple hours..

One thing that the Philippines and the U.S. have in common is that dealing with government offices can be a frustrating experience. I hope that these guidelines will help simplify your passport renewal chores and  embassy encounter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disappearing Act

In a country like the Philippines from which many citizens are eager to emigrate or at least work abroad due to the difficult economic conditions here, it seems paradoxical that the Philippines would have a problem with a presence of illegal aliens. Yet according to the Bureau of Immigration, there are approximately one million  such immigrants residing here.

But unlike in the U.S. where the majority of illegals, mainly from Mexico and Central America, enter the country by sneaking across the border, most of the foreigners who don't belong in the Philippines usually enter  legally with tourists visas, but then overstay the expiration dates of these documents, and then never make an effort to correct the matter. This is the mirror image of their Filipino counterparts in the U. S  who become illegals in the U.S.the same way and are known there  by other Filipinos as TNT's, a Tagalog acronym for "tago ng tago", which loosely means "constantly hiding".

In an effort to root out immigrant over-stayers,  the Bureau of Immigration has launched an outreach campaign called the Alien Registration Program., which offers an opportunity for amnesty from deportation to those undocumented aliens who voluntarily come out of hiding and report to the immigration authorities.  However, contrary to the indication in the  ARP public notice, I didn't find a registration form on the BI website, but  if you would like more information  about this program, click here to see the official guidelines thereof. You can also get information by phoning the Bureau of  Immigration at (02) 465-2400 locals 444 and 447.

In short, if your only immigration problem here is an expired visa, the Alien Registration Program may be a way to resolve that issue. once and for all. Also consider the alternative: If the BI ever unexpectedly discovers your status  and accordingly takes legal action against you,  that can lead to a lot more complicated outcome.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Wake Up Call From Mario

Almost every year during the wet season in the Philippines (officially Junethrough Sept) there's at least one major non-typhoon tropical storm in Metro-Manila that is so intense that it causes extreme flooding and resulting disruption of  normal  activities, not to mention loss of lives and widespread property damage. Beginning  the evening of Sept. 18th  one such meteorological event,  "Mario" (international name Fung-Wong) hit the National Capital Region and continued nonstop into the next night. Not surprisingly, once again MM was caught unprepared, despite endless official talk long beforehand of various plans to prevent or at least mitigate such havoc but which always comes to nothing.  Ten people were killed in the storm.. Reservoir dams were placed on high alert.  And of course normal civic operations came to a  standstill.    This  shut down of most government and commercial functions and the jeopardy to the city's water system. is an example of what happens when the authorities fail to make adequate preparations for a natural disaster.

As expats and retirees, my wife Lydia and I are fortunate that we don't have the same ongoing commuting obligations as the working people and others here in the Philippines, especially in Metro-Manila. This is not to say that we are recluses and have no interactions with the world outside our condo. Naturally, there are family and friends to visit, errands to run, appointments to keep, all of which  can be difficult enough to meet in bad weather just once in a while, let alone on a daily basis. But woe unto those who have to earn a living and must struggle every day to get to and from their jobs which itself is a difficult task even in the best weather.  This is due to monumental traffic jams resulting from such factors as  too many vehicles on the road, an overtaxed public transportation system,  and lack of road discipline. How much more miserable under extreme weather conditions.

The deluge was reminiscent  of a similar prolonged tropical storm (although shorter in duration) named "Ondoy" in 2009 which also flooded  the region including part of Eastwood City where Lydia and I reside. That time I was out and about and got stranded just a few kilometers away from home to which it then took several hours to arrive. Will the damage from Mario turn out to be even worse than Ondoy? if so,  it may be the final straw in the government's inaction in addressing such chaos. Yet on the other hand. as Lydia astutely pointed out to me, Filipinos have a short memory when it comes to these disruptions; and after a while public furor dies down.

The Philippine Congress has been considering whether to grant emergency powers to President Aquino which would give him extreme legal latitude in short-cutting the political process in order to address a looming electric power shortage that is expected to occur in 2015. IMHO, similar powers should likewise be granted to the President to deal with both the storm preparedness  delay issue and the interrelated traffic crisis that continue to plague the region and are only getting worse as time passes.

This time the people mustn't forget and let the matter pass.  If corrective measures aren't taken very soon, another prolonged downpour like the one that we just experienced could be catastrophic.. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some Observations On Consumer Credit In The Philippines

Before retiring, I worked for most of my career in the U.S. as an  accounts receivable / credit and collections specialist. Decisions in which I participated regarding credit granting and collections were heavily influenced by credit bureau reports. And although I'm no longer involved in such matters in order to earn a living, I still try to stay abreast with events in the national economy both in the U.S. and the Philippines.  I've observed for example that the role of banks in consumer lending in the Philippines, especially to the growing the middle class has become far reaching. One such area is credit cards which as a finance tool is often high risk, as they are usually  not backed by any collateral.   Inasmuch as there's no credit bureau operating in this country at present, I've wondered how in the absence of such a data source, financial institutions here determine creditworthiness of credit card applicants, not just for Filipinos, but also for foreigners who are even less likely to have local  credit histories or references.

According to a reliable source in the finance industry here, a very important consideration is the applicant's relationship with the bank, regardless of his or her nationality.  This includes such criteria  as  the length of time that the customer has had a savings and /or checking accountand the size of balance that (s)he has carriedwith that institution. And  even though the party may not have a credit history (and therefore references) from another bank,  if these other conditions  are favorable, bank managers may endorse the applicant for a card in order to also meet their marketing quotas.

Another basis for granting credit is one that is very much in tune with Philippine culture: patronage. If  an account holder has a good business relationship with the bank or close ties to the manager, and  based on that client's assurance of  another individual's good character and ability to pay his/her debts, the manager may endorse the third party for a card. (As an aside, I  personally know of situations where patronage has facilitated certain banking transactions.  The customers' requests were completely aboveboard, but due to various "official" bank restrictions  and requirements that the clients didn't meet, they would have had a difficult if not impossible time completing these transactions without an inside connection to go to bat for them). Finally,  sometimes just to meet their sales quota, managers themselves will even solicit those clients who have not expressed interest in a credit card into applying for one anyway.

Fortunately, a credit bureau is scheduled to begin operations in the Philippines in 2015. I believe that when that happens,  it will be a significant step forward in the rationalization of  credit granting by local lenders in determining  consumers' and business' reliability based on their finance track records and in turn, facilitating the reporting of their pay habits in the repayment of  their debts to other prospective creditors. Also, a credit bureau will likely become  become an important source of information to lenders for locating debtors who have skipped out on their financial obligations.  IMO all these components will bring about more sensible and objective credit granting policies by financial institutions, which as a result  will ultimately benefit both lenders and borrowers alike.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just For The Record

There will almost certainly come a time in your life when you need to obtain an official copy of a vital statistics record that documents an event in your personal history, such as birth, marriage, or divorce, or for a  death certificate of a family member such as a spouse or parent. If you reside in the locale where the occasion in question took place, it may just require a trip to city hall or the county seat to get this document. But if you live outside that area, such as in another state,obviously it's not going to be so convenient. And if you live outside the U.S., as is the case with American expatriates, accessing these files from abroad can be a real challenge. However,  as you will see, there is a solution.

When my wife Lydia was applying  to regain her Philippine citizenship  for dual citizenship status and thought that she had completed all the steps to the reacquisition shuffle, out of the blue the Philippines Bureau of Immigration, decided to request a copy of our marriage certificate. We didn't think we still had it at hand as we were married 43 years ago, but after some digging we managed to find it. Our other concern was that since our marriage took place outside the Philippines that we might have to have our certificate validated locally, and whether or not that was possible. As it turns out, our worries about the latter  were for naught. And a few weeks after we submitted a copy of this paper (by email attachment), Lydia received her dual citizenship certificate. 

Nevertheless, that episode got me to thinking. Suppose the BI had asked her to submit the marriage certificate itself rather than just an emailed attachment. That would have meant surrendering our only record on hand that verifies our marriage. So at that point I decided to try to get another official copy of this form in the event that for whatever reason and to whomever  we are required to submit it. That way we would still have an authorized duplicate for own records.

We were married in Los Angeles, California. So I went on line to find out how to obtain the certificate. I googled my request and was directed to the Los Angeles County Clerk Registrar-Recorder website which furnished instructions about obtaining that form. But I had a few concerns that needed addressing before I could send in my order. One of them concerned  the recorded message instructions for the requester to furnish a self addressed stamped envelope along with the order. Where the hell am I going to get U.S. postage stamps in the Philippines?. The other issue was that the  required identification to be included with the request was a photocopy of a  California driver's license, which I no longer hold. So I phoned the LACCRR, and went through numerous prompts to reach a customer service representative. Alas,  I was never able to get through to speak with one despite making  about three attempts and waiting in queue for approximately an hour each time. What was I going to do?

It so happens that accompanying the LACCRR website, there was link to a private company called Vitalchek.com .  This  is a service that searches for and furnishes vital statistics records to the requester in a more streamlined manner than that provided by  the government offices themselves, such as a  faster turnaround.  As a result the fee charged  by Vitalchek  is more than the $15.00 assessed by  Los Angeles County . On the other hand, Vitachek accepts other forms of identification from the requester (including passport), and once they obtain the record from the government office in question, they then  forward it to the customer via UPS;  so no SASE or a driver's license worries.

Is Vitalchek an honest and  reliable organization? Well,when I googled their background, I found that the company did have a previous run-in with the Better Business Bureau over advertising and service issues. As a result, Vitalchek made some changes in its operations including its website, which I found very easy to use. So I took a chance and  placed my request for our  marriage certificate through them. I received my order in about  2 1/2 weeks. This is in stark contrast to the LACCRR which estimates a six-week waiting period for order fulfillment.. The cost for Vitalchek's services including the international UPS delivery of my document was $58.00 USD*. So I think that was a pretty good deal. And now that I know I have a source to look to for such important personal files, it makes my life as an expat a little easier.

*The cost of an order may vary depending on the quantity of documents requested and their accessibility.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Perspecitve on Gun Violence in the Philppines

In my other blog site "Towards a Rational America and an Enlightened Judaism", I recently wrote a post titled "Confronting America's Gun Obsession" in which I discussed the widespread  fixation in the U.S. on firearms and their associated violence.  The Philippines is also plagued with violence, and gun deaths are all too common here as well.  In fact while the actual rate of gun ownership in this country is less than in the U.S. (which is the highest in the world), the  homicide rate by firearms percent per 100,000 of  the population in the Philippines is 8.93 vs. 4.7 in the U.S.

Just open the local newspapers  and you will read of the numerous gun-related killings that take place daily,  especially in Metro-Manila.  As the above stats show, the percentage of such incidents far exceeds those in the U.S.   However, my impression is that there is a qualitative difference between the two countries when it comes to the type of culture that generates these shootings  in the first place. For example, as opposed to the imprecise wording of the U.S. Constitution about the  individual's so-called "right to bear arms, (the interpretation of which is often heatedly debated by Americans)  this right is clearly  limited in the Philippines: It's not  even constitutionally affirmed at all. And actually gun registration laws are strict (in theory anyway.  Due to corruption among officials and irresponsibility among the citizenry,  meaningful enforcement and compliance are  another matter.)

Another difference is that the usual choice of weapons for individuals here is handguns rather than assault weapons often favored in the U.S. Perhaps the latter are too expensive for the average individual to be able to afford in this third-world country.

Also in the Philippines unlike in the U.S.  where gun ownership is considered by many people as almost  a sacred  religion, there is no gun lobby or powerful pro-gun organization like the National Rifle Association along with its inordinate political power. Rather, the local preoccupations with guns  is likely the result of the machismo tradition handed down from the Spanish colonization period which lasted over 300 years and left an indelible mark on society.  This same type of attachment to such weaponry is also reflected in the culture of  Latin American countries which of course are also former colonies of Spain. However, to the extent that gun possession  here and in those other countries is considered a means of personal empowerment,  it's likely also a means of compensation for feelings of personal inadequacy, as may  well also be the case for gun fanatics in the U.S.

My other observation about gun violence here is that while many of these killings are randomly directed at strangers, such as in the commission another crime (e.g. robbery),  it seems that more of them are targeted  at those who are known to the attacker, including acquaintances, friends, and family members. The motive is often a hot-headed response to a real or imagined slight.  This oversensitivity  is usually the result of  personal narcissism which pervades the population here and is often compounded by alcohol consumption.  On the other hand, school shootings which are becoming increasingly common in America are almost unheard of in the Philippines.

But cold blooded murder is also common in this country, the targets for which are often politicians and journalists . The actual planners of these homicides don't have to dirty their hands by committing the act themselves. Hired killers are easy to come by and work cheap, a term which also describes  the overall regard in the Philippines for human life outside of one's family or circle of interest. Hence, taking the life of the "other" must be easy for these masterminds and hit men if they don't consider the victim as another person anyway.

As in any country, the roots of national character run deep in the Philippines. So it would take a sea change in society's mentality to overcome the destructiveness  that reigns in  this culture. And this behavior can only cease if the people  finally learn to respect each other as fellow human beings and to turn away from the love of violence, including  the  weapons that perpetuate it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Choreography of Reacquiring Philippine Citizenship

When my wife Lydia regained her Philippine citizenship last week. she had a motivation in doing so that I wasn't aware of:  an end to the alienation that she had felt in living here for nine years without the full empowerment that comes with the privilege of being a full member of the society in which she was born and raised.  So in taking this step Lydia not only helped to resolve my visa issue, but she regained the rights that accompany citizenship and, equally important, peace of mind.  

As I mentioned in my last post, reacquisition of Philippine citizenship and thus becoming a dual citizen in the process is on the whole not a difficult procedure and may take only one trip to the Bureau of Immigration to complete. But applicants have to make sure that they dot their i's and cross their t's. And as in any instance in dealing with a government office, "expect the unexpected".   For example, Lydia originally completed the application form  for reacquisition  of citizenship (BI Form MCL-08-01)  that she picked up from the BI in March. She properly completed it at home,  had it notarized as required, and presented it along with the necessary supporting documents to Immigration for approval on April 23, only to be informed that the application form  had been revised in the meantime.. So she would have to fill out a new app, (BI Form 2014 01 005 Rev 0) (legal size).  Further, the requisite photos of herself that she brought along were also invalid  as the requirement for their size and background color had also been changed.  The other problem was with one of her supporting docs: proof of her naturalization by a foreign government: The BI officer who reviewed her papers deemed it to be inadequate. Fortunately, Lydia was able to correct all these problems during that one visit.  But it was very stressful to be blindsided this way. 

So for those interested in regaining their Philippine citizenship, in addition to the above  Bureau of Immigration form, click here for the latest list of necessary supporting docs. Once you've finished the paperwork, assembled the file, and are ready to bring it to the BI in Intramuros, Manila, here is the "dance" you will likely have to do on arrival. I call it the "reacquisition shuffle:" But first a reminder: In almost any dealings with the BI, it's essential that you arrive there early in the day, preferably before 7:00 a.m. You snooze, you lose.

Present your completed file to the  Public Information Assistance Unit which is located on the first floor directly across from the building entrance. An agent there will scan your papers to ensure that you have the right forms. You can also pick up blank forms there as well.

Proceed to Window 14 where your application and supporting documents will be examined in depth.

If all is in order, you will be sent to the legal department on the 4th floor where a Bureau of Immigration attorney will administer the oath-taking.

After the oath-taking, return to Window 14 where the clerk will check your file for the attorney's endorsement.

Proceed to Window 15  where  your file will be reviewed for final approval.

After this authorization, go to the cashier at Window 21 and pay the P3,010 fee (ouch!)

Return to  Window 15  and  present  your  receipt for proof of payment.

You will then be directed to the "Air 21" Desk (not to be confused with the BI Cashier Window 21) where you will  pay a P100.00 delivery fee. The clerk will hand you a receipt with a tracking number and a delivery bag bearing your name and address. This is the envelope in which your approval for dual citizenship  will be sent to you within 30 days.

Take this envelope back to Window 15 and give it to the clerk. This is the final step in the "acquisition shuffle". Take a bow for your performance. You've earned it.