“Ma’am, Do You Know Your Husband Has Been Married Three Times Before?”

Ma'am, do you know your husband has been married three times before?” The question from the CFO (Commission on Filipinos Overseas) official stunned the young Filipina.  She had no clue that her American fiancee had been married three times before to ladies from the Philippines. A look of shock and disbelief washed over her face. “No” was her soft reply.  The CFO employee then said: “Are you going to go ahead with the marriage?” The Filipina's  answer:  “Yes.”Three Filipinas

So another poor Filipina is  lied to by some jerk back in the States that did not think the Philippine government kept track of such information. Maybe he did not realize that such information would be released to his future wife at a mandatory seminar all Filipinas have to attend before leaving the country to be reunited with their loved ones.

Or maybe the idiot did know, and figured his new love would still go ahead with the plans since she really loved him. Or perhaps he knew she wanted to escape the desperate poverty she was trapped  in.  Marrying the American, or kano, would help her family and be her ticket out.

We're all rich Americans in the Philippines. The fact that he had three wives before did not stop her. The above was a conversation my wife heard  over ten years ago as she attended her CFO seminar before leaving for America to join me. The CFO sticker you obtain  once you complete the  class is   mandatory if you want to leave the Philippines.

My wife had to show the CFO sticker at the Manila airport to Immigration officers before she could board her flight. I've seen a couple of instances online where some Filipinas did not attend the seminar and were somehow able to get by the airport officials without showing it. Some were caught and had to go back to the CFO to attend the seminar. Why risk it?

I waited over nine months for my asawa to join me, and would not have wanted her delayed by not attending the CFO seminar.  The classes provide information on what to expect once you reach Immigration officers at the Manila airport, and provide the attendees with domestic abuse hot line numbers for their destination,  along with other information on immigrant-related issues. Here's some additional details  from the CFO website:

As a Filipino emigrant, or those who have been granted an immigrant-class visa, you are required by the Philippine Government by virtue of Article 19 of Presidential Decree 442,  to register with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas before leaving the country to settle in a foreign land. An emigrant who has properly registered with the commission will have in his passport the CFO sticker which will be inspected by the Bureau of Immigration upon departure.

Registration to the CFO requires the emigrant to present originals and photocopies of relevant documents, fill out a registration form for Emigrants  or for Immigrant Workers, attend the Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) or the Peer Counseling Seminar, and pay the authorized registration fee. The PDOS is a brief, two-hour seminar on settlement issues and concerns such as finding employment, rights and obligations of immigrants as well as policies and procedures on how to secure foreign citizenship. The Peer Counseling Seminar is a special session for those with ages 13 to 19 years, which aims to prepare them emotionally for the adjustments they will have to take.

Provided that all requirements have been presented and submitted, the whole process of registration shall be done in half a day.

I have read of recent reports where attendees of the seminar have been subject to verbal abuse and rude behavior from those conducting the classes. My own wife was not subject to such behavior, but she was in the seminar over ten years ago as mentioned earlier.

 My asawa did say that some of the ladies in her class were worried and felt threatened by what they would expect when they faced Immigration officers at the Manila airport. She said that because of the thorough detailed instructions that I had sent her, she knew she had the required paperwork necessary, and did not worry about it.

Let me emphasize to you guys out there planning to marry a Filipina. Please check, double-check, and triple-check all necessary immigration forms that you need from your home country before you send it to your fiancee/spouse in the Philippines. I had a professional typing service in the States that typed in the information that I provided to them on the necessary documents needed. I  wanted the immigration process for my wife to go as smoothly as possible.

I did not need an immigration lawyer. I researched the subject of visas thoroughly. My eBook, “Expat Guide to the Philippines,” has additional information on spousal visas, including obtaining a visa for yourself when you move to the Philippines. I know of some guys that had improperly filled out paperwork that cost their loved ones weeks or months of delays in getting them to the States. I even met one man that had waited five years for his Filipina wife to join him. In a case like that, I think I would have to consider seeking out a reliable immigration attorney.

There is no reason, however, that a fairly intelligent, diligent person  cannot do the process by themselves. In closing, here's some additional information on the CFO process directly from the CFO website: REGISTRATION AND PRE-DEPARTURE SERVICES What is pre-departure registration? Pre-departure registration is a process which generates an information resource on Filipino emigrants, which in turn, provides accurate reference for policy formulation and program development. It is a requirement to all Filipino emigrants or those leaving the country to settle permanently abroad. What are the requirements for registration? Filipino emigrants are required to present the following documents for registration:

  • Original valid passport
  • Original and photocopy of visa
  • One (1) 2×2 or passport-size photograph
  • One (1) valid identification card with photograph*
  • Original and photocopy of Immigrant Data Summary (for USA-bound emigrant)*
  • Original and photocopy of Confirmation of Permanent Residence (for Canada-bound emigrant)*
  • Photocopy of Certificate of Eligibility (for Japan-bound emigrant)*
  • Original and photocopy of letter of approval for Work to Residence visa (for New Zealand-bound emigrants)*
  • Photocopy of employment contract (for immigrant workers)
  • Duly completed registration form
  • Payment of P400.00 registration fee
  • Attendance in the PDOS, guidance counseling or peer counseling session

13 thoughts on ““Ma’am, Do You Know Your Husband Has Been Married Three Times Before?”

  1. Enjoy reading your site. Am glad my wife didn’t have to jump through all the hoops to come to states in 1968. But I guess with all the weird people in the world today, they had to tighten up the rules. I got married when I was in the military. You had to summit your request through the commanding officer and it went all the way to the Embassy. They would disaprove the first one after waiting a couple of months. I think they did this just to see if you wanted to get married and have a cooling off period. After the second request it came back approved. Then you had to have counselling on the base to insure you both knew what you was getting into and they would try and talk you out of getting married to a filipina. After they found out that you was not going to backout, then they allowed you to get married in town. I was in the Fleet at the time I got married and was only making $ 276.00 a month. I knew I did’t make enough money to bring my wife to states, so I reenlisted in military for another 4 years so that I could get station in the Philippines. I knew that if you was station there, that when you had orders to leave they paid for your family to come to states. Before leaving for states all we had to do was summit NBI and FBI clearance to Embassy and they gave her and my 2 daughters which was born at the Naval Base a green card to enter the states. The rest is history. Have 3 grown kids and 4 grand kids. Wife decided to get citizenship after being here 20 years.

    • Great story, George! Sounds like you guys in the military really had a tough process to go through, too, however. Once you got the military convinced, though, hard to believe only NBI and FBI clearance were needed. Things have really changed. I’m going to be doing some future articles on what the current process is for those wanting to marry Filipinas.

      Sounds like you are doing well. You have a great Filipina wife, three grown kids, and 4 grand kids. Things have worked out well for you. Thanks for sharing your story. I really do appreciate it.

  2. Good that you didn’t have to go through all of that, John. Glad to see it has worked out so well for you. I urge my readers to check out your story on your website, very interesting.

    • Hi EJ, absolutely, be happy to have your sister’s link here. You’ve been a faithful supporter from way back, and I certainly would advise anyone that would need an immigration lawyer to contact her. While I did not need the services of a lawyer, some immigration cases, especially those that involve children or ex-spouses in the Philippines, certainly would need the advice of a qualified immigration lawyer.

  3. It’s sad what some nice, young Filipinas have to go through to escape from poverty and help their family. Yet many manage to do it with a smile.

  4. I chose to use an immigration lawyer because I was in a position with the state where I was a real jerk about having paper work submitted correctly. I knew what happens when something isn’t done exactly right. I highly recommend the use of an attorney. In fact, I met with an immigration attorney before I went to see Melyn and asked him exactly what I would need in order to complete the process. It cost about $600, but was well worth it because I knew everything would be in order. I also knew that if the paperwork got messed up, I would have someone else to blame other than myself.

    • Sometimes an immigration lawyer is absolutely the best way to go, John. It is way too easy to make just a minor error in the mountain of paperwork needed that could cause delays of weeks, months, or longer for your loved one’s visa. Seems like you had a fairly reasonably priced lawyer. If you ever want to share your immigration’s lawyer name or contact info I would be glad to add it to my “Visa Info” category. Thanks for your input.

      • I guess I missed this when you posted way back in January. The lawyer I found was the only immigration lawyer listed in the yellow pages in central illinois when I was looking. He is very good. This is his info:

        1129 S 7TH ST
        SPRINGFIELD, IL 62703-2418
        (217) 528-7333

  5. I was married for 55 years to a lovely filipina. She was the truest
    and the most outgoing person anyone could imigane. We had 3 beautiful and successful children and numerous grandchildren.
    We were married at the chapel at Clark Field. She really clicked
    as a military spouse. Sadly we lost her to a medical misdiagnosis
    5 years ago. She was and is still #1 in our hearts.

    • Paul, you are a fortunate man, to have had the company of a beautiful Filipina spouse for so many years. I am so sorry to hear about her passing. How I wished I would have met my wonderful Filipina years before I did, but it was not meant to me. But I am so grateful for the 11 years of happiness we have had together so far. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us.

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