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How I Met The Sainted Patient Wife— Part Three, the Conclusion!

When I ended yesterday's blog entry on the story of how I met The Sainted Patient Wife, a destructive earthquake had just shattered Taiwan killing thousands, and major aftershocks were still rippling throughout the nation. I had no way to check Melinda’s status in Taipei City; I had no phone number there, so I decided to see if I could get any information from the Internet. I posted a question in a forum that was discussing the earthquake and asked if anyone knew what the status was in Taipei City. scan
Several hours passed by and someone that was near the area where Melinda lived (I did have her return address on all her letters) kindly responded to my query. He said that while there was major damage in Taipei with hundreds of people killed, the immediate area Melinda lived in was relatively safe at the moment with some damage done, but no fatalities reported on the block she lived in. I typed a grateful reply and hoped and prayed for the best.

A week after the catastrophic earthquake I received a letter from Melinda telling me how the 12 story apartment building she lived in rocked and swayed but suffered no major damage and was still habitable. Extremely relieved, I sent her a letter in which I proposed to her. I was completely sure she was the one I wanted to spend my life with. She responded with a letter accepting my proposal. I was overjoyed!

Late one cold October evening in 1999, just a week or so after Melinda had agreed to marry me, my phone rang. I answered and there was a small voice on the other end as loud announcements from a P.A. system continuously blared in the background mingled with much commotion and voices in a language I did not understand. It was Melinda! It was the first time I got to hear her voice! Her employer had finally let her go shopping by herself as Melinda informed her boss that she would be leaving at the end of her two year contract at the end of December 1999 to get married. Her employer was resigned to the fact that Melinda would be leaving so allowed her to go shopping by herself. We talked for about 20 minutes as Melinda was using an expensive phone card from a pay phone to call, and she promised to call me again on her next shopping trip.

Melinda and I continued to correspond. I got my passport and scheduled two weeks of vacation time for the last two weeks of January 2000. Future Sainted Patient Wife completed her two year term of employment at the end of December 1999 and went back to the Philippines. My vacation came around, and after a long 22 hour Northwest Airlines flight which started Friday evening from Chicago, and then to Detroit, Japan, and finally the Philippines. A hour before our flight's arrival in Manila late Sunday evening, all passengers were given a form to fill out to list and declare any items of value that one might have. Printed on the form in capitalized red letters was the following warning: DEATH TO DRUG TRAFFICKERS IN THE PHILIPPINES! I  had no occasion to worry, and did not see anyone else go to their carry on luggage and scamper to the restroom, but I am thinking that they mean business here.

No one is allowed inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport without a valid airline ticket dated for that day. A multitude of guards armed with pistols and high-powered assault rifles are at all the entrances and patrolling the grounds. All passengers were thoroughly patted down by male guards for the men, and female guards for the females. To try to get past these guys would be like committing suicide. I played close attention to what they said. I stand in the Immigration line and speak to a trio of Immigration Officers who scrutinize my passport, ask me some questions, stamp my passport and let me through. A 21 day visa is allowed when you visit the Philippines. You have to jump through some hoops to get your visa extended; since my vacation was only for two weeks, I would not overstay my allotted time.

(I now have what is called a Balikbayan visa, privilege, good for a year, and there is no charge for that. As long as you enter the Philippines with your Filipina wife, whether she is a U.S. Citizen or “green card” permanent resident of the U.S. as my wife is, the government will grant that visa to you per your request as you enter the airport and present your passport. Make sure you carry your marriage certificate with you, as that is supposed to be required. When Sainted Patient Wife and I entered the Philippines this past July, the immigration lady granted our Balikbayan Visa with no questions. I took out my marriage certificate to show her, she said no, that is OK, she did not need to see it.)

As I departed the airport, I was instantly slammed with oppressive humidity, and looked across to see throngs of people in the waiting area across from the airport. Thousands of people mingled around, and this was midnight, local time, with taxi cabs and other vehicles streaming past us like it was rush hour traffic in Chicago. I stood dazed for a moment, trying to find Melinda in the massive crowds of people in the waiting area. A nearby armed guard asked me if I needed help, and at that moment I heard someone cry out my name. Yes, it was the future Sainted Patient Wife, Melinda! Finally we meet! Her brother-in-law Joe stood by as he had given her a ride to the airport. I give Melinda a big hug and we exchange our first kiss (even though Melinda says she is very shy.) And yes, we kiss in public, unlike most other Asian cultures, the Filipino has no reservations about public displays of  affection; they are a very warm and loving people. I don't kiss Joe, just shake his hand. He doesn't seem particularly offended that I did not kiss him.

The next morning we went to the U.S. embassy and found it closed due to it being Martin Luther King Day in America. Never occurred to me that the Embassy here would be closed, but as you might understand, I was preoccupied with other matters at the time. We had to get permission to get married from our government, and Melinda had already made arrangements with a Justice of the Peace in nearby Caloocan City where her eldest sister lived to get married this coming Thursday. So we went back to the U.S. Embassy the next day, got sworn in with about another 100 Americans to receive our permission to marry, and waited for the big day.

Not much for me to do do the next two days until that big day except just sit around like a Bonehead (no problem with that), watch television in a language I did not understand,  and do a "meet and greet" with all the relatives who treated me like I was some kind of celebrity. We stayed at her oldest sister’s house, and before I knew it Thursday came and we took a jeepney to the City Hall in Caloocan City. We were a half hour late for our appointment with the Justice of the Peace, because Melinda’s oldest sister did not start getting dressed until a half hour before our appointment. Do not worry, Melinda said, trying to calm me down. We were on Filipino time, and anybody reading this married to a Filipina knows EXACTLY what I am talking about. No one is in a rush here. Things are very laid back.

As soon as the City Hall clerk spies me she tells Melinda in her native Tagalog that the fee just went up another $50 U.S. to $75 instead of the usual $25.  Not being happy about being cheated (its called the Skin Tax here, if you are Caucasion, you sometimes run into people that charge you more. I have only encountered it twice in the three months I have been here, from a pedicycle driver in Iloilo City who overcharged us 40 cents, and a multicab driver here in Guimaras that overcharged us a dollar.) But I was not arguing at this point, this was my big day. A Catholic priest at the City Hall conducted the ceremony along with the local Justice of the Peace; we signed our Marriage Certificate, and we were officially husband and wife.

Had a great reception at a local restaurant with all of our witnesses. That was the happiest day of my life! Second happiest day of my life was when Melinda finally got to join me in the United States 9 ½ months after many hours of filling out her Visa application paperwork and finally getting permission from our Immigration Department. Just because you are married in the Philippines does not grant your foreign spouse automatic entry to America.  This process also involved obtaining and submitting official security clearances from each country she worked in: Singapore, Taiwan, and a National Bureau of Investigation security check from the Philippines. Some people get an Immigration lawyer to do this. Save your money. I did it by diligent research on the Internet, networking with other Americans here that had already gone through the process, and just some plain hard work.  I am truly a blessed man to have such a wonderful, beautiful, and kindhearted wife as my Sainted Patient Wife, Melinda, and it was worth every single second of time it took to get her here.

If you’ve stuck with me throughout these three blogs, I  really appreciate it. Next will be the true account of how Melinda’s sister younger sister Emily at the age of one was a target of a local witch here, and the witch’s evil pursuit to devour baby Emily’s liver! I am not making this up. I will relate this story as told to me by the Sainted Patient Wife. As always, thanks for checking out The Rooster Crows at 4am!

GO HERE FOR PART ONE             

GO HERE FOR PART TWO

23 thoughts on “How I Met The Sainted Patient Wife— Part Three, the Conclusion!

  1. Hi David, and thanks to you, if I am not mistaken, since you are the one that prompted me to write this story, and I appreciate it.

    Melinda was amazed at how clean our streets and highways were here, during her first snow about a month after getting here, she was like a little kid, said it felt like walking in sand.

    Her view of American was distorted for quite a while as she stayed home and watched "The Jerry Springer Show" (I didn't want her to have to go to work right away; she had worked so many years overseas with no vacations.) She was fascinated by Springer.

    She loved America, and eventually found some great friends to go shopping with (which she still loves to do.)

    I think the thing we probably miss most about the States now, aside from the friends, is the lack of air conditioning. The crew is still working on our home here, but we are making progress. Melinda got quite accustomed to air conditioning!
    Thanks again for your comments, and thanks for your continued support. Take care.

  2. hello dave and melinda. boy that picture doesn't look like you two very much. that was an interesting story. This blog is still one of my daily reading. I like seeing pictures of their culture over. What happens after one year do you apply for another visa or what? from buddy pauley.

  3. Hi Buddy, No,it sure doesn't look like us; the picture will be 10 yrs old this coming January, and I'm getting uglier, and Sainted Patient Wife keeps getting better looking.

    Thanks for your continued support. I'll get more pictures out; I like to go around and take them because the people stare at me like I am some kind of a Bonehead!(Wait! I am!)

    To renew my Balikbayan visa, all I have to do is leave the country before next July 15th, go to any other country, like nearby Singapore,don't have to go all way back to U.S. (but we are), and I can come back two hours later and re-enter with Sainted Patient Wife, and Balikbayan visa is renewed at my request; Melinda always has to be present for me to qualify for that type of visa. Then I'm good for another year.

    Thanks for reading and for your comments, Buddy. Take care.

  4. WOW ha, would you believe it? I read through all the three parts of the How you met your Sainted Patient Wife in just one setting!! Exciting and thrilling kasi eh!! You understand that now, Dave? hehehe…I'd certainly be back for more of your stories.

  5. I am impressed JessQ that you read the stories straight through. Thank you, and thank you for visiting and I encourage my readers to check out your blog. No, I don't know kasi eh,will have to check with Sainted Patient Wife.
    Thank you so much for the kind comments. Salamat po!

  6. Hi Dave, I also read the three part stories how you met your wife Melinda. I thought she was also chinese because of her looks! A lot of chinese from Phils did work in Taiwan. Sounds like you are adopting pretty well in Guimaras. My hubby and I were penpals too for more than two years before we got married in late-80's and sure enough he's originally from Illinois too! Good Luck to your B&B….best regards to you and sweet wife Melinda. W

  7. Hi W. Thanks for taking the time to read the three parter,and your husband must be quite a nice guy if he is from Illinois,too.
    Yes,a lot of people here think she is Chinese, guesss that's from her father's side of the family. Well,it's taking time,but I'm adapting here. Thanks so much for your comment,I really appreciate it.

  8. Bonehead
    I subscribe to your blog through google reader,I just hit the link to the posts of how you met your wife. I enjoyed the story, it is a great piece of writing. I'm an Englishman been with a Filipina about 15 years.
    CHEERS!

  9. Dear AA, glad you liked that story.Since I published some of the photos relating to that story I have been getting some good feedback. Thanks for subscribing to the blog,and glad to have an Englishman aboard. One of the things I miss most about the United States are the British sitcoms I watched on our Saturday night Public TV station,"As Time Goes By" was one of my favorites. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Your photo with the back security guard reminded me of my husbands visit to Cebu. My husband is a police officer and he was really shocked to see security guards with shotguns, even mall security guards had gun. He also has a picture with security guard with a gun just like yours. My husband enjoyed his trip to Cebu Philippines when he came to visit me. He loves the people and Im happy for you and your wife.

  11. Hi LIFE,MARRIAGE AND KIDS! Yes, I remember my first visit to the Philippines, and like your husband, I couldn't believe that all the mall guards were armed, the bank guards had shotguns, and every store seemed to have armed guards! Glad your husband enjoyed his visit. I love it here. Thanks so much for the comment.

  12. I stumbled into this blog and I am glad I did ! 🙂 I love happy love stories 🙂 Your blog is very interesting! 🙂

    You and Melinda are blessed 🙂

  13. Hi, Dave. I'm so glad I had some time this morning when I saw these posts as the most popular ones on your blog. That's an awesome story. It has all the important elements to make a great movie, the most important of which, of course, is the happy ending, lol.
    Two things though:
    Is the Pawnee you mentioned the same Pawnee in Amy Poehler's Parks and Recreation? lol
    THOSE EMPLOYERS WHO TREAT FILIPINO AND OTHER 3RD WORLD OCWS LIKE CRAP, DENYING THEM THEIR RIGHTS JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE THE UPPER HAND IN THE SITUATION, ARE SCUM!!!
    Now that I've gotten that out of my chest, hee, God bless you and Melinda!

  14. Hi spinninglovelydays, thanks for reading the story. I appreciate it. You are so right about your remarks about those employers who treat Filipino OCW's like crap. It's shameful.

    Ha, ha, I never watched Amy Poehler's show, but I don't think it's the same Pawnee. The Pawnee we lived near in Illinois is quite a bit smaller than the one I've seen in the tv show's promos.

  15. Hi Dave,

    I just read all 3 parts of your story, in fact i spent the whole day reading a lot of your blog and found it very interesting and in someways similar to me and my wife. This is my first time reading this site which i stumbled upon. It’s been a wonderful read and i really enjoyed it.

    God bless you and Melinda!

    • Hi Jude! Welcome to the blog. Thanks for taking all that time to read it, and I’m glad you enjoyed the story about how I met my “Sainted Patient Wife.” I really appreciate that. Glad you saw some similarities. I’m blessed to have such a good wife. Take care.

  16. Thanks for reading all three parts of the story, John. I appreciate it.
    As far as the Balikbayan privilege goes, I have since heard so many different versions on how long a person has to stay out of the country that my head is spinning. I cannot find anything on the Bureau of Immigration website which states how long you have to stay out of the country. Any out there that has used the Balikbayan privilege have any thoughts on this? I was told by someone that used the privilege that they only left the country and returned only two hours later. The granting of the Balikbayan privilege is, however, up to the immigration officer you encounter upon your return and could be interpreted differently by different officials.

  17. I think that would be wise, John. Like an Immigration Official told me a couple of years ago, every immigration officer is different and may not interpret each incoming arrival’s case the same as the person standing next to them.

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