My new kano friend from Tennessee, "Mickey" (see yesterday's post), had just related some surprising information to me. Though he has been in the Philippines for eight years, he currently did not have a visa. He would be subject to a fine (based upon how many months he overstayed) if he ever tried to return to the United States. The fee used to be collected when departing the Manila airport, but currently, I understand the person wanting to leave now has to go to an immigration office to apply for a late extension and pay the necessary fees before they can leave the Philippines.
Truth be told, no one has ever asked me for my passport except when I first entered the Philippines. I do have my ACR-I (Alien Certificate of Registration) Visa with me, but never carry my passport unless I am traveling to Manila. However, Philippine law requires that a foreigner carry their passport at all times. I plan to stay here legally and get my Permanent Visa next June before my current ACR visa expires. If I have to return to the United States (my Father still lives there), I want to be able to leave without any hassle.
Mickey also told me he was in the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart. He was shot in the left knee as he tried to pull a buddy up from the ground into the moving helicopter Mickey was on as the Viet Cong opened fire. I thanked him for his service to our country, and told him I was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War stationed as a Security Policeman at Whiteman AFB in Missouri. Happy Veterans Day to Mickey, my Dad (who served in the Air Force during the Korean War), and all other military personnel, past and present. Because of your sacrifices, I had the freedom to leave my great home country of the United States and retire and live like a king in the Philippines.
By this time my wife was in view so I waved her over and introduced her to Mickey. He took out pictures of his fiancee and his current wife, and showed them to us. He said they both weren't the prettiest Filipinas, but that he really loved his fiancee. I diplomatically replied "all Filipinas are maganda (beautiful)" and wished him good luck on his annulment proceedings (check out the legal opinions on the comments sections of Part One of this story.)
Mickey gave me his cell number, and said we should get together for some "Dead Horses" ("Red Horse", a popular Filipino beer) at a bar near the Hypermarket. I told him I would look him up next time we visit Iloilo. My wife said Mickey was even a bigger talker than I was (which is saying a lot.) I agreed with her, and proceeded with the rest of my shopping. It was good to talk with a fellow American, and next time I stop in Iloilo City, I'll see what other stories my new kano friend has. Lord knows, I have plenty to tell.