Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dual Citizenship in Chicago(almost a nightmare)

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left photo:across the street of Michigan Ave(millenium park)
right photo: Philippine Embassy Chicago(michigan ave.)



Chicago skyscraper(michigan ave.)


Paperwork were approved last June 25th, i submitted via mail minus the 2x2 photos since they required a blue background photos. San Antonio didn't have one unless i go to the real studio. Now why blue? don't have a clue. Why can't they make it like the U.S. id photos??? i guess they wanted it to be different or just want to make it hard for applicants. They did offer it to do it there at the consulate for $10. They are really making money out of this. Anyway, back to the processing.

Fast forward:

According to the consulates jurisdiction, Texas(state i'm living) was under Los Angeles embassy. Therefore, i have to submit my paperwork and fly there for the oath. I decided to do my oath taking in Chicago if granted by the consulate in LA and Chicago. It's very convenient for me to fly to Chicago than LA plus i have dear friends i wanted to visit in Chicago. I got an approval from both consulates that it is ok for me to submit application in Chicago as long as i can provide local address in case they needed to send me something, which i did. Less than 4 weeks from initial application I got a phone call from a female(filipina)employee that i have been approved except for "Report of Birth"application for my son Matthew. It has to be reported in Los Angeles consulate, she said. With no further question, i asked her to schedule me for my oath taking. I have either Mondays and Fridays to appear there. I pick Monday a month later. I called 3weeks before the trip to reschedule the oath, i found out that i wasn't even on the list. No one has heard of me. I told the male that someone gave me a schedule already and i have paperwork filed and approved. Five minutes later a female employee verified that i have indeed an approved application. So i made another schedule confirmed by her, i even told her that i have to buy plane tickets and cannot afford for them to screw up. All is good and set for August 24th(monday)oath taking, she replied. Flew the day before and meet up with old and new friends. I was 10 minutes early, went to the photo office first before i end up at the window where you drop off applications. Little did i know that oath taking was on the other side. Thanks to the nice filipina in line for directing me properly. I sure didn't miss how poor the customer service in that consulate. Very poor that they couldn't care less if lines of people both Filipinos and Americans waiting to be processed by them. I can hear them talking about their weekends and sharing family photos. I'm glad i didn't have to continue in line to be at their mercy. Nevertheless, I was disappointed but not shock. Arrived at the oval office with few Filipinos mostly on their 60's and up all ready for the ceremony. Had a little chitchat with one nice lady from Arkansas, she said she spent her adult life here in the US that remembering the Panatang Makabayan(oath of allegiance) will be difficult to remember. Good thing we have print outs. Consul General administer the ceremony, we were asked about our respective states, of course i exclaimed Texas. Consul General and her secretary look very surpised and pulled me out of the group. I was later on interrogated, Consul General questioned me if i'm aware that Texas is under LA. Of course i'm aware of that, i replied. I explained to her about my application, that i prefer to have my oath in Chicago than LA. I was approved by LA and their Chicago location to have my application submitted in Chicago. Their permission was the only reason why i'm there otherwise i would have gone to LA. Annoyed and seem pissed when i explained the situation mostly in English. See no offense for speaking Tagalog, but i rambled a lot when talking in Tagalog than Bisaya. Consul General thought i'm taking the whole application as a game. For you it's "convenience" for us we take everything here seriously, she said. I'm like WTF. Did she really think applying for Dual Citizenship and buying plane tickets for the oath taking is a joke??? Oh that got me more irritated. I was about to walk out and forever denounce my country of birth.

Anyway, i held my temper and continue listening to her sermon. I thought she is going to send me to Dallas for the oath since they do mobile services every now and then. Was just waiting for it and thought of asking for my plane ticket refund if she deny me considering that i flew there for that reason. After 30 minutes of scolding her secretaries about their inconsistencies she let me get away with it, we cannot undo what has been approved, she said. I guess a sign of taking responsibilities for their mistakes? later on we found out that the secretary who handled my paperwork was reassigned, new person didn't have a clue about my application since it was already stamped "APPROVED", she assume everything is good and didn't even notice the dates i put in as 2010 instead of 2009 in one of my document lol. Consul General saw it and got even more mad. Are we even checking documents here in this office? she asked. Only proves to me how incompetent and obviously employees not having enough knowledge with their policies. Then again, i'm not SURPRISED! Typical Filipino public service attitude. Not saying all, just speaking from my own experiences both here in the U.S. and Philippines. That should teach them a lesson and hopefully navigates to employees knowing their jobs and policies to good customer service. After all, it wasn't my FAULT. I mean come on, what's the big deal of doing my oath there?? I know it's a rule, obviously under any other circumstance you can do favors. I bought plane tickets to appear there for goodness sake.

On a happy note:

I had a very nice dimsum lunch at Chicago's Chinatown to forget the bad morning and just laugh it out. Not to mention the awesome company with me(geri, cielito, and evan) to brighten up my day. I'm glad it's over. I got both US and Philippine identity taken good care of.

Meeting Geri again and Cielito for the first time

left photo:Me, Geri, Cielito and baby boy Evan(Geri's son).
right photo: Me and Cielito

Three days was filled with fun and loads of food. Guilty for binging but didn't regret a bit of it. Delicious, salamat girls for taking me to those places. The never ending pinay talks was both interesting and fun. I never met any pinays(real meeting)that i didn't connect with. I feel so lucky to have friends like them. Chicago, what can i say. I'm in love with this place. Beautiful and green, houses and buildings are art itself. As a big foodie and cook, i wish i had enough days to explore their culinary expertise. From watching food shows i heard it's one of the melting pot for food and new chefs. Oh well, there is always next time.......

Chicago, i heart you, one of my favorite destination to visit again.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MATI the Beautiful!

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FYI readers i am not paid to post this, as a Matinian i felt like i wanted the world to know that this little city called "Mati" is worth visiting. Just recently became a city, a place where i was born and raised. The mountains are wonderful and the water is even better. Blue water and white sand comprises a magnificent picturesque you can ever ask for.




KANAKBAI is a fairly new resort we are going to stay for a week next month while vacationing in the Philippines. Doesn't have a lot of reviews about the place yet but the beach is the same beach(dahican beach) i grew up visiting with my family early in the morning to catch the calm waves and fresh seafood. Simple things i miss about this place.

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