I’ve got a rare treat for us today. A contribution from a reader that’s going to strike home to many of you reading this blog.
See I’ve been writing abut “Moving to the Philippines” and all sorts of related subjects for more than 1o years now. And so have a whole raft of my blogging colleagues out there on the ‘Net.
But moving to the Philippines is not always a oneway trip. And many of us men have this habit of meting lovely Philippine women, falling in love and getting married and then what?
Maybe you don’t want to stay in the Philippines for all the rest of your days together. Maybe you want your wife to get an education in the USA, or a job or to gain the advantages of US citizenship and a Blue passport.
Want to know what’s in store for your Filipina bride if you decide to move back to the USA?
Here’s the story of Chris Houtsma who made the journey. It’s an interesting story and I really appreciate Chris taking the time to share this with us. Take it away, Chris…..
“Moving to the United States of America”
- 0.1 “Moving to the United States of America”
- 0.2 “Back Story”
- 0.3 Visa Process Begins
- 0.4 The US-side of the Process May Be Easier Than the Filipino Side
- 0.5 Then The Trip
- 0.6 Facing Up To The The USCIS
- 0.7 I’m In!
- 0.8 Buying a House
- 0.9 And Then Getting On The Road
- 0.10 The Paperwork Maze
- 0.11 Patience Is Definitely Required
- 0.12 Now They’re “Home”
- 0.13 Friends Aren’t That Hard To Find
- 0.14 It Gets Better With Time
- 0.15 The Weather _IS_ Different
- 0.16 You Can Put Down Roots
- 0.17 You’ll Get Used To It
- 0.18 You Can Be Happy
- 1 Related Posts
- 2 Share this Article:
By: Cris Houtsma
My husband and I have been together for almost 9 years since we met in Naga City Camarines Sur.
When I was living with him in my home country (the Philippines) I would say that I was content since I’m used to the life of being a Filipino living a simple life and not being too far away from my family and friends. I never had a thought about moving anywhere outside my country since my husband seemed to be comfortable living there. Until one day he mentioned to me about moving to the United States.
I was actually not so excited about it because I was a little scared hearing different stories from other Filipinas who moved to the U.S. for the sake of their husband, and some of them had bad experiences with their husband. They ended up moving back to the Philippines.
I had long discussions with my husband on how it would be like if I moved to his country. I had so many questions come up in my mind and I needed to have real explanations for those questions.
After weeks of thinking about it, I finally told my husband that I’m okay with it and told him to help me out when I get to the U.S. I was hoping the best for me and for him as well when we get to his home country.
Visa Process Begins
So, to make the story short, my husband Jim, flew to Manila in June 2015, so he could start filing the paper work for my visa directly with the U.S. Embassy. (this is a good place to start learning Love and Marriage and Migrating to the U.S.)
In July, he received an email from the U.S embassy telling him that the application was approved.
I was very exhausted and nervous thinking about all these processes because I’ve heard there were other Filipinas before who got denied and got banned from going to the U.S. and so on. I got panicky and sometimes couldn’t even sleep at night due to my stress and nerves.
When the time came for my medical exam appointment, my husband and I flew to Manila.
It was not an easy day to me. Too many processes at the same time and I was nervous because I didn’t know if I passed the medical exam. But, thanks God everything worked smoothly. There was no problem with the results and I was approved.
Two days later we took a taxi to the U.S embassy for my interview.
That was another hell to me. I thought I’m going to pass out because of my nerves, tense and so on. I was lucky that the consulate who did my interview was very nice. My nerves calmed down and I felt comfortable. After all the questions were asked by the consulate he seemed like he was satisfied with all the answers. He was also happy that my husband was there with me at that time.
He then told me that I was approved and told me I should go to another window so they can explain to me about the delivery of my passport with my visa.
The US-side of the Process May Be Easier Than the Filipino Side
Another hard requirement to me was to get the CFO certificate. (Commission On Filipinos Overseas)
The counselor at the office was really hard compared to the consulate at the US embassy for my visa. She asked a lot of questions, I almost cried in front of her due to my panicking attitude that was attacking me during the interview.
The counselor was very tough on me, she never stopped asking me questions although I already give her the entire story of me and my husband.
I can understand that she wanted to make sure that my relationship with my husband is legit and we are not playing to each other but that counselor was really difficult to please.
I remember there was about 6-10 applicants that were not approved to get their CFO certificate because they were not able to provide enough documentation and proof that their relationship with their husbands were not fake.
Many of the applicants were coming from Bohol, and some other provinces who traveled to Cebu to get their CFO certification so they can travel outside the country without any problem. But, they had to travel back to their provinces again because they didn’t have the requirements that the counselor asked for.
The problem is, the CFO website would tell you to bring those requirements listed on their website but when the applicants undergo the one on one interview, it comes up that the counselor wants different items and documents as more proof, etc.
Anyhow, after the interview she asked me if I could provide her a copy of my husband’s divorce papers, passport/visa and pictures of us together that shows my husband is real and that we are not playing to each other.
She did not give me the CFO certificate at that time because I couldn’t provide her the visa status of my husband in the Philippines. I talked to her and beg if I can come back to submit the lacking requirements that she wanted. I’m glad that she agreed and give me a chance.
I went back to the office the next morning to bring the other documents that she asked me to bring. She called me and she asked me a couple more questions then finally, she was smiling and told me that I’m good to go pick up my certificate at the counter.
I was like “Oh My God”. I’m approved. I was very happy to get out the office with my CFO certificate in my hands.
Then The Trip
On September 21, my husband and I flew from Cebu to Manila to catch our flight to Hawaii in the evening.
We arrived in Manila and then I tried to find the booth of the COMELEC so I could register to vote overseas but sad to say, the booth was moved outside the terminal according to the guy who worked at NAIA.
I was afraid if I went out from the terminal to find the COMELEC booth I would be late for our flight. So I decided not to go anywhere, thinking that maybe I will register to vote at the Philippine Embassy in the U.S.
Around 6:00 o’clock in the evening, we boarded the plane going to Hawaii. The first thing that came to my mind was the time difference between Philippines and the U.S. We left September 21 in the Philippines and arrived in Hawaii before we left the Philippines. Hawaii looks nice although the island we were on was small but a part of the U.S.
Facing Up To The The USCIS
I didn’t encounter any problem at the immigration in Hawaii. I fall n the line then one of the officer took my passport with the visa and the kit that i had from the US embassy n the Philippines (sealed document).
The immigration officer that i was talking to was nice. He asked me some questions such as; my DoB as well as the DoB of my husband , age, address in the US, phone number etc.
After that, he stamp my passport/visa and he give it back to me and he let us go afterwards.
We stayed in a hotel for a few hours in Hawaii where we got some sleep since we didn’t have much sleep on the plane.
Later that day we flew from Hawaii to Los Angeles and from there to Tucson Arizona.
I wasn’t really that sure if I would be a very happy woman when I arrived in Tucson since the environment is really different. I was full of emotions at that time.
I didn’t see any Filipinos when we arrive in Tucson. I was really shy when some of the locals would look at me. It seems like I have dirt on my face that makes me wonder why they are looking at me like that.
My husband said they were just curious about me. He also showed me some of the shopping stores around Tucson. I was surprised that the stores were built differently. They look different than the ones in the Philippines.
We went to the Commissary to get something and I was shocked because most of their fruits and vegetables were big.
I was like a kid and kept telling my husband “OH MY GOD, they’re all BIG”.
Some of the people here are also big lol. I was looking at myself and thought I am dwarf living in the giant’s world lol.
Buying a House
Anyway, we didn’t have a house when we arrived in Tucson, but my husband found a house on the internet that was for sale.
He contacted the realtor (my husband’s friend) before we left the Philippines so he can get more information about the house, he then told the realtor that when we arrived in Tucson we would just go and check the house.
I met our realtor, Paul, and he and his wife have become friends.
And Then Getting On The Road
My husband also arranged to see a car and three days after we arrived we had a new car.
A week after we arrived in Tucson, I was really not that happy because I had so many things that I missed in the Philippines specially my family and friends.
Although we communicate every night through Facebook, but still it’s not enough for me not seeing their faces personally.
We stayed in the hotel while working with the realtor so we could check the house if it is really the same as we found on the internet. The good thing was, the house was really maintained well. It looks new although it’s already 9 years old when we bought it.
The carpet, house paint, patio, fixtures and the entire house looks great. Looking at it, is like we are buying a new house, so we decided to get the house after looking at it.
The Paperwork Maze
Doing all the papers for the house was very tough for me and my husband because we had so many things to do first.
Paper works, loan, down payment, termite inspection of the house and so on that we have to do before we could move in.
We stayed at the hotel for six weeks and that was really difficult for both of us. I was very depressed and full of negativity while in the hotel.
Patience Is Definitely Required
Thanks to my husband for having patience and for helping me not to get excited about things.
He told me to give it a little time to adjust since I am new here. He did a lot of things so I can adjust well here.
First week of November, we finally move in to the house.
I was excited because I really had a difficult time sleeping in our hotel room during the six weeks we were there. That room was small and fully packed with stuff we bought for our house when it came time to move in. We could hardly walk around in the room.
Now They’re “Home”
But here we are, we made it.
We moved into the house with no couch, chairs, refrigerator, but at least we had the cooking stuff, utensils so we can cook and eat in the house.
My husband was very busy calling the companies for our internet, cable tv provider, water company, gas, electric, garbage pickup and so on.
We already bought furniture and a refrigerator and they arrived during the first week we were in the house.
It took us a few months before we got everything we needed in the house. It’s not easy but we made it.
Friends Aren’t That Hard To Find
I forgot to mentioned above that I meet a Filipina at the hotel front desk, she works as a receptionist.
She was nice but I couldn’t talk to her for a very long time because I don’t want to disturb her while she was working.
Nine days after arriving at the hotel, I meet a new friend. She is a Filipina who was also married to an American from Indianapolis.
They moved here to Tucson with their baby girl. They stayed in Indiana for a couple of years but then decided to move to Tucson since her husband has work opportunity somewhere in Tucson. They stayed in the hotel for a couple of months before they got a house.
We invited them to our house during Thanksgiving and we hung out a couple of times to eat.
We also attended an event in Tucson were there are Filipinos showcasing their talents during the cultural event (Tucson meet up).
It was fun and I was so happy to know that there are many Filipinas living in Tucson as well.
I didn’t expect that I would meet them there.
It Gets Better With Time
After few months I was starting to become comfortable and accepting the life that I have here in Tucson.
I enjoyed going shopping at the commissary together with my husband.
There are times that I get bored but I keep myself busy. I talk to my friends and family on Facebook and read some news online to get rid of my boredom.
I also meet a new Filipina from Bacolod who is also married to a retired Marine. One time, we both watched the rodeo event here and we enjoyed our bond together.
They invited us to their house for a get together, and we also invited them to our house to celebrate our wedding anniversary together.
I also have some American friends here, they’re all nice and seem to be very friendly. They even invited us to their Christmas party last year and they later took us to an expensive Mexican restaurant.
It’s fun and I’m happy to meet these folks.
The Weather _IS_ Different
In terms of weather, Tucson has better temperature compare to the Philippines specially during summer.
It’s dry and less humid. I don’t sweat here when I’m working in the yard with sunshine except when I’m doing 30 minutes of exercise.
Its cooler at night and early in the morning.
The hardest part of the year for me was the “winter season”. I had to wear a warm jacket and sweater because I have a bad reaction to the cold weather here. My eyes were watery, I developed some headache and rough skin during that time.
The spring season is what I really like here. It meets the standard that I wanted.
You Can Put Down Roots
My husband and I put in a small garden in our back yard.
We grow, tomatoes, spring onions, eggplant, radishes, Bokchoy, squash, Filipino lemon/lemonsito, moringga tree/malunggay, lemon grass and some flowers around our front and back yards.
It’ s fun and I am very happy living here.
I also go shopping with my husband every week. We do things together most of time.
The food here is about the same as in the Philippines. I used to worry about food here before I left the Philippines but I can tell you, there are many Filipino stuff at the Asian stores here in Tucson. Just like you are living in the Philippines.
The only problem is the price of these goods are expensive due to the import tax and transportation.
You’ll Get Used To It
All the worries I had before are now gone.
I’m just laughing at those times that I acted like a kid full of drama and wanted to go back to my home country.
Everything is good as long as you give yourself a little time to adjust yourself to the environment.
You also have to find what really makes yourself happy.
Do something to keep your mind away from the negativity or boredom.
What I found for myself when I got here was I love seeing the view around Tucson.
The Saguaro cactuses looks unique; I haven’t seen these kind of cactus anywhere except here in Tucson.
My husband bought me a good quality canon camera as my Christmas present last year so I can enjoy myself taking pictures of those plants and other scenery such as sunsets, sunrises, the moon, events, views and so on. I have so much fun with it.
It’s something that keeps my mind busy if I’m not doing anything else.
You Can Be Happy
Right now, I am happy to say that I’m already adjusting myself to the environment in Tucson.
I normally don’t go out unless we go shopping, watch a movie in the theater or do some biking around our subdivision.
I am planning to take a test to get a learners permit so I can practice driving our car so I will be able to go shopping by myself sometimes.
Then maybe I will find a job eventually.
I have a green card right now, so maybe I will consider getting my citizenship since my husband keeps talking about this. It’s probably not easy to do all the process but maybe I’m going to try getting it. It’s something that I have to think about in the future.
Another thing that made me comfortable living here is that, my husband will have a much better health care services compared the one in the Philippines. He will have a better health care provider if he needs them.
OK, Chis. Thanks again for this great story. Seems like so many folks never think about “going the other way”.
What about it, faithful readers (as well as those who Google just dropped off here ;-), what else do you want to know about moving from the Philippines to the USA?