The end is nigh!

My journey and adventure to the Philippines Islands has come to an end. It is time for me to say goodbye to my new friends, and family, and head back to the city of Detroit. Motown. The “D”. The “Motor City”. Well, not the city itself, but very close to it. Michigan. It has it’s good points, but at this point in my travel, I would much rather stay in the Philippines.

This is the last article regarding my initial visit to the Philippines to meet my girlfriend, who became my fiancée while I was there. We’ve had a lot of good times, and spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and as much as possible, for me to know her family. But, the time for me to go home to my work, and my family in the states has come.

I gather my clothes, and pack them away into my luggage, and carry-on. It is a somber day for us. Joan and I would both rather stay together, but we know that for us to be together as husband and wife in the U.S., this day is inevitable. A meal is prepared and packed into the van, which arrives late at night in preparation for our long drive to the airport in Manila. The drive to the airport seems to go too fast, and before I know it, I am sitting in the airport parking lot, eating my last meal with my fiancée before we head out. We have arrived early, and we have a lot of time, it seems, to spend together before I have to head into the airport to leave. The family gathers on the concrete benches in the parking lot, and eat our meal. The mood is both happy and sad at the same time. We are all happy to be able to spend this time together, but knowing that it will end soon. I sit with a heavy heart, and consider the possibility of simply staying there. Thinking it through and decide that sitting here, with my fiancée whom I have fallen in love with completely, is a hard thing to do. Saying goodbye to someone you love so much is difficult to do when it is only for a short time, but knowing that the process for her to come to the U.S. will not only take six months, it is not guaranteed. Postponing my departure from them is tearing me apart, and I do not want the last thought of me to be of a sad and crying man. So, I tell them all goodbye, and tell them I need to go inside the airport. They are all in disbelief that I am heading in so early, but I make the gesture that I don’t want to be delayed in security. I hug and kiss my fiancée for what will be about six months, gather my things, and head inside.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Check in was completed in about two minutes, and I convert what money I had kept back into U.S currency. $40. Wow. It seemed like so much more in PHP. I shrug it off, and move along to my gate, only to be stopped at a check point and taxed to leave the country!! Wait a second, I don’t even WANT to leave, but now you’re taxing me for leaving? Good thing I had $40 still. I paid what I think was $15usd, and move along. Waiting at the gate for my plane was excruciatingly painful. I didn’t want to leave. Why don’t I just walk back out there and call her and tell her to come pick me up?! My heart is breaking, it seems, already. I board the plane and find my usual seat, all the way in the back. At least the familiarization of the plane seat relaxes me somewhat. After a short taxi out to the runway, we lift off. This is when the full-on loneliness sets in, and the wishful desires of jumping from the door behind me comes to mind. But, I know that this short stay away from each other is required.

After a layover in Japan, and a twelve hour flight to Detroit, we land safely. The trip back seemed faster than going there. I think my desires to arrive in the Philippines made the trip seem slower. Kind of like, the watched pot never boils. I gather my luggage and head to the Immigration and Customs station, I proceed to give them my passport, and that I am returning as an American. They ask if I have declared anything(they know I have). They then ask if I have any fruit. I tell them, dried banana chips. Well, dummy me… that gives me another one hour wait in a line to check for other contraband. I wait in line patiently. The man in front of me has MANY things taken from him. Apparently, not allowed in the country. It’s my turn, and I tell the man the same thing I told the other. Banana chips. Nothing else. They seem happy with that, and I’m free to go.

Time to say Goodbye
Time to say Goodbye

Unlike the Philippines, nobody is here to greet me. To welcome me back. That was, my choice though. It is simpler to just grab a cab and have them drive me to where my vehicle is parked. Mom’s house is, after all, only a 15 minute ride from the airport. I returned to Detroit on May 30th at about 1 pm local time. It’s the beginning of our hot season, so it should be warm. I step out of the airport to the waiting cabs, and am shocked at how cold it is!! I’m FREEZING!!!! According the news agencies reporting the weather, it’s 73 degrees Fahrenheit, which is almost 23 Celsius. By Philippines standards, this is cold, but from where I am from, and have grown up my entire life, it is a nice day and I should not be complaining. However, since I have just returned from a place where the average temp was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is like walking into a refrigerator! I ask the driver to please put the windows up, as he has them all down. He kindly tells me it is a beautiful day and I should enjoy it. I explain to him that I have just returned from a tropical island, and this is about a 30-40 degree temperature change for me, and I am freezing. The driver, kindly obliges this fat guys odd request, and puts all of the windows up for me. We arrive at my location, and the driver is paid by credit card, as I only have $25 cash. Only my Mother is at her home to greet me. This is where my cell phone, Jeep, and keys are waiting for me. Gifts from the far side of the world are removed from my bags and left for everyone to get at their leisure. Stories of my adventure are told for over two hours, and my mom can tell that I am a happier man than when I left. All expectations of my trip were met and exceeded, and while it is good to be home, I am a lot lonelier now. The paperwork to apply for fiancée visa was sent in almost immediately upon my return home. I forgot to get some needed paperwork while I was there, so we had to express mail them to me so the process could begin.

Until next time, salamat, ingat, and God bless!

Post Author: Scott Fortune (65 Posts)

At the time of this writing, I am 42 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.

Learn a Philippine Language


    • Scott Fortune says

      Romantic? I don’t know about that, but I do know that it was VERY difficult to leave her there in the Philippines when it came time for me to go. It was difficult, but I made it through it. :)

  1. David says


    Great story, near and dear to my heart. I remember having to say goodbye to my sweetheart 6 times before we married. She was an OFW, working in Hong Kong, and my job allowed me to visit her in both HK and Philippines. Each time I left, it became harder and harder. Thank God for Skype, and cell phones. I will tell you that once her paperwork is approved and you get her the fiance visa, I would suggest that you return and have a wedding in her home town. It is much easier, and more enjoyable than dealing with the high costs here, and she get to be a “princess” before she leaves. I did that for my wife and will never regret it. What a party we had. Now that she is with me, the difficult thing to deal with is waiting until I can retire to move permanently. I have to work for three years to get to my retirement funds, and it is tough. We will have to settle for visits, (my wife will spend her first Christmas at home this year in 13 years), phone calls, Skype, and Balakbyan boxes. Thanks again, Dave

    • Scott Fortune says


      I don’t know if I went back for a second time that I would have been able to say goodbye, let alone six times!!!!! You’re a much stronger man than I am, apparently. :) The next article will be about my time when I returned, and some more… so, keep reading!

  2. J Cook says

    Scott, I know what you went through, It was so hard for me to leave too
    , but had know choice. Than when I went back home to work, I was told we only had six weeks left to finish up, So I made plans to go back. I went to the Philippines two times that year. I was one lucky person. She in the U.S. now and we have been married for five years . Time flys when you find the right person…Good luck. JC

    • Scott Fortune says

      We have been married for over 2-1/2 year now, and it seems like only yesterday. So, I think you’re right. You’re definitely lucky to be able to visit so much there!!! I’m looking forward to retiring there!

  3. says

    Hi Scott – Don’t let the story end here keep us all informed regularly on the progress of obtaining the visa to allow your fiance to join you in the USA. Also what your doing to welcome her when she arrives.
    All the best to you both.

    • Scott Fortune says


      This is DEFINITELY not the end of the story!!! I will continue to write, as long as Bob continues to post the articles. :)

      Next weeks article is in the works, and will be out soon enough.


  4. Jeff d says

    Its amazing how similar my story was. Now my wife has been here with me for almost 2years. All the visa paperwork, tears and anticipation was worth it.

    Great story Scott…. You have put into words what many of us have gone through through

    • Scott Fortune says

      Thank you David for your well wishes. According to my Prtopaedic Surgeon, my back will NEVER get better. But, God works in mysterious ways, and you simply never know what can happen. The Philippines is a paradise to many, and I am hoping that the warmth and the sunny beaches will help my arthritic knee, feet, and exremely destroyed back. Not to mention, maybe lose a few pounds… which is the only thing that my doctor said MIGHT help. :)

      See you on the sunny side.

    • Scott Fortune says


      In the United States, it is VERY difficult for a Filipino to secure a tourist visa to the United States, if they are even able to do so at all. let me try to explain this since I really have no idea where you are from, or whether you have ev en been to the Philippines.

      The problem is the United States government. They don’t want a Filipinos coming here on a tourist visa, because they are pretty sure that they will not leave. And, it is not because they don’t like Filipinos, it is just the government doing a really BAD job at controlling immigration. You see, Mexico is rigth below the U.S. and our border has a constant problem of people from there coming here to look for jobs and a better living. A way to support their families. The Philippines, is very much like Mexico in that regard. There are a great MANY people in the Filipino population that would love a chance to come here, work, and make money to send home to their families.

      I’m not going to get into the political viewpoint much here, because my views may not necessarily match your own. However, I think that the United States has a serious problem with the way that they handle immigration, and it needs to be changed. Most people on this site will agree with me on that point.

      The reason that the tourist visa is difficult to MOST Filipinos is that you MUST show the U.S. government a reason that you will leave here to go back to your own place of birth. Which, usually requires, large land ownership, business ownership, etc. You, basically, need to be very wealthy.

      If you have been to the Philippines, you know that most there are not. I have even heard of doctors, who are considered to be very wealthy there, not being approved for a tourist visa to come here.

      I hope this helps you to understand the issue with the tourist visa for the U.S. A tourist visa CAN be obtained by a Filipino for MANY other countries, just not this one. :(

      • Ricardo Sumilang says

        Scott, you said the U.S. government is the problem in making it hard for Filipinos to come to the U.S. on a tourist visa because “they (the U.S. Government) don’t want Filipinos coming here on a tourist visa, because they are pretty sure that they will not leave.” Then, you said, “There are a great MANY people in the Filipino population that would love a chance to come here, work, and make money to send home to their families.” Exactly.

        This is why the U.S. makes it hard for a Filipino to obtain a tourist visa because U.S. immigration statistics show that many Filipinos DO overstay their visas. They go into hiding – thus the expression, “TNT”. These TNTs stay in the U.S. illegally and get jobs to send money home. Thus, it’s hard for me to see this as the U.S. Government being THE problem in this regard. The U.S. does not legislate laws on a whim, they are enacted for a reason. If you must find fault, it is with the TNTs who make it hard for honest Filipinos to visit the U.S. for legitimate reasons.

        • Scott Fortune says

          Ricardo, I am not trying to anger anyone, only deliver a story, whcih I had hoped everyone would take at it’s face value. THere are many viewpoints to any political, religious, or in this case immigration story. Ones which I refuse to discuss on this forum, as that is not wahat it’s purpose is. So, I apologize if I upset you or brought up your blood pressure on the topic. We all have our own thoughts and feelings about EVERY topic which could be brought up. THis is due to the personal encounters we encur, and how we handle them.

          I do appreciate you reading my story, and hope that you will contineu to read them as they come out.

          If Bob starts a political forum, I would be more than happy to share my views. :)

          • Ricardo Sumilang says

            Scott, you did not make me angry; in fact, I enjoy reading your stories, particularly those that touch on the day-to-day life of the average Filipino living in the provinces. Furthermore, there is no need for you to apologize. You stated your viewpoint about U.S. immigration laws, and I stated mine. It’s that simple. This forum, afterall, allows for the exchange of opinions in the course of commenting on an article, including expressing a counter viewpoint as long as the exchange is conducted in a respectful manner. I understand perfectly well your stand on this issue, as I, too, would probably feel the same if I were in your shoes. However, I stand by my opinion that U.S. immigration laws are put in place with a great deal of research done on them and with factual evidence to support their passage in Congress. With respect to the specific law pertaining to “restrictions” placed on Filipino tourist visas to the U.S, that law is a direct consequence of the bad apples abusing the system. There is nothing political about this viewpoint.

            • Scott Fortune says

              I agree the system is setup for a reason, but it is BROKEN if looked at from different viewpoints. Of course, bad can always be found where there is great good if you look hard enough.

              Have a great day Ricardo!

      • Bob New York says

        Additionally, many Filipinos may not even be able to afford the cost of going through the Visa application process which includes at least one visit to the US Embassy in Manila, the cost of getting to Manila and spending a day or two or more there, and then returning to their home town or city. As more applicants are turned down than granted a USA visa, the whole application process is a financial gamble that many just can not afford or want to take the chance on. There are some, mostly university and other students that get a student visa or exchange program visa to be in the USA for about up to a year, or more if a full time University Student. The qualifications for that are not easy either. They are very fortunate.

        • Scott Fortune says

          I agree Bob. The costs each person encurs to bring someone to the United States(and possibly elsewhere, as I don’t live elsewhere) are crazy high. So much that I think it inhibits MOST people from even applying as you said. And even if they were able to apply, getting here and living here would be another story. most cases I have heard of are from relatives living here and working here in the U.S. sending money home, so that these types of dreams can come true for some others.

  5. brianking says

    Hey Scott ,
    As a fellow Michigander ( also in the North Detroit area ) Cheers on ya congrats on the new wife, welcome back to Hell …and yes….it has frozen over!! Drop me a email if yo ever care to have a few beers and swap stories on the RP .

    • Scott Fortune says

      North Detroit?! You want me to drive to the north Detroit area at todays gas prices?! LOL!!! Thank you Brian for the invitation! I’ll keep your email handy and hit you up some day for a get togehter. Are you married to a Filipina? I’m south Detroit area. but let’s not get all gangsta and hold a grudge. :) Just kidding Brian.

  6. Mark G. says

    You brought a tear to my eye. I’ve traveled back and forth nine times since February 2009. I joke with my wife that I’m her OFW. It doesn’t get any easier leaving her and my son behind. Hopefully they will join me here in the near future and we will return to the Philippines when I retire. I truly feel more at home in the Philippines than I ever did in the US. Thanks for sharing your experiences once again. If you keep writing I’ll keep reading.
    Mark G.

    • Chris says


      I feel the same man, after a month there on my first my first visit (deployment) I was absolutely convinced God or whatever made a mistake… I should have been born Filipino! I truely felt as if it was always meant to be my home, and I long for it everyday, homesick if you will. 3 1/2 yrs till I retire and It cant get here soon enough.

  7. Neal in RI says

    Nice article Good luck with all your paperwork.
    Just to give you a time frame back in the 80’s my Wife came here to the US on a Fiance Visa, I paid a agency (Peeping Deezon) in Manila to help her do all the paperwork. The paperwork was started in Dec and she arrived here in May. If I recall you have to marry her with in 90 days after she arrives. Good luck planning a Wedding when you will not have a concrete date that she will be arriving here in the US. A lot depends on Physical at St Lukes, and her interview at the US Embassy.

    • Scott Fortune says


      You are right, you do have to marry within 90 days from the day she arrives in the states, otherwise, she violates the visa agreement and becomes an illegal alien. Not like the kind that arive on UFO’s though. :)

  8. Bob New York says

    Thanks for your excellent articles of your Philipine adventures Scott. I will be looking forward to more of them in the future. It is always a sad feeling for me when my Philippines vacations come to an end all too soon. For the next 11 months it is something I look forward to all over again.
    Thanks to the internet and websites like ” LIP ” we can have a virtual visit almost any time.

    • Scott Fortune says

      Eleven months of waiting for 1 month of heaven would be nice. I haven’t been back since June 2009. I miss it badly, and look forward to the move. My wife, also misses her family VERY much.

  9. Papa Duck says

    It’s sad having to leave. But it was neccessary that you went back. It was only temporary and you will be together soon. 29 days and i will be on my way over there. Excitement is starting to build. Have a nice day and look forward to your next post.

  10. says

    OH GOD this brings back memories for me!

    When I left my fiancee in 2009 to come back to the UK, it really does feel like you have been gutted and left with this big empty feeling inside, like you have become a hollow shell of your former self.

    Upon arriving back in the UK I spent 4 months of intense sadness and loneliness, that on Christmas day I had enough and I called my fiancee and told her I am coming back to the Philippines Feb 15th to marry her, instead of us filing to bring her to the UK to marry, I will never ever forget her reaction as she screams down the phone “Really?!?, Really!?!, please do not tease me, this real?” Her screams of excitement that I was returning soon and to marry her warmed my heart and that got me through the month and a bit of waiting.

    We were married March 6th 2010 on a beach in a amazingly beautiful setting. The cost of such a wedding would cost upwards of £30,000 easy if we tied the knot here! It was not the COST that made me decide to marry her in her home country, but I knew that her family would never be able to afford to come here, so by deciding to marry there was the best choice I ever made as her family were able to give her away and be apart of this very important day! and NOTHING beats a traditional filipino wedding….. Just amazing… (*tears in eyes now hahaha)

    6 months seems like a lifetime this is true, but fear not as it does pass quicker than you think. Not only that when my wife applied to come here to the UK her visa was done and dusted in under a WEEK! So keep in mind that if you have the papers, sorted organized, and have OVER KILL in regards to documents and proof, it will go much faster than someone just giving the minimum. Have faith man it will come together quicker than you may think. (There is an article on our site that explains the process the wife and I went through, and are going through)

    This very touching article you have written has brought back these memories, and I will now be writing an article for my website to share my experience of this very hard, sad and happy time in my life.

    Thank you for sharing yours with us all.

    Best of luck and I look forward to reading your update!

    • Chris says


      Great story as well, I suppose it may be easier somewhat to immigrate to the UK as opposed to the US (which it faster). I have all the paperwork in order, straight overkill and still it is almost a year process.
      We also married in the Philippines on the beach, same reason so the family could attend, we also plan to have a wedding here in the US sometime after she arrives for my family also.

    • Scott Fortune says

      Michael, the peso ratio was different when I was there. It was something like 48-50 per dollar. I DO remember that they took American or Peso at the desk, which was great since you pay AFTER you convert your money back. Iwould highly recommend converting your money there, before you return here to the U.S. The currency exchange at Detroit is RARELY open. I honestly don’t know why they even have one.

      Sorry you’re coming back soon. :(

  11. Chris says

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. But I consider you even luckier since you only have to wait 6 months to be reunited.. I did not know of the fiance visa, and my beautiful wife ( I met on a deployment to the Philippines in 2007) and I were married in her province in May 2010.

    I am US military, so I only stayed a month before returning stateside in which upon my return I was transfered to another base and deployed (again, 8 deployments total) for a year. While I was deployed, I was lucky enough to be allowed R&R leave (2 weeks) to visit my wife on our 1 yr anniversary. I gathered the necessary paperwork in order to submit and begin the immigration process for my wife. Upon returning to my deployed location, I went to the legal office and spoke with the officals who work with such matters. They unforunately told me since I was within 90days of returning stateside they were not able to accept the application, so I had to wait until I returneds to the states.

    Once in the states, I had an unexpected emergency to handle deplaying the proceaa by 3 months. Finally in January of 2012, I was able to start the process, and the papers were submitted. The Vermont office was handling our application and they reportedly have a 5 month processing time, but 7 months had past and still no progress, so I camlled my lawyer, and within a week it was complete, now we are currently waiting the Visa Center to process and send the paperwork to the Embassy. Once she is notified, just the interview and medical are left to overcome. All in all it will be about 2 1/2 years we are married and still she has not arrived to me (she is expeceted to arrive by Dec 2012).

    This has been so very hard on both of us, but I am blessed to have such a very faithful and patient wife whom I love completely. Even better, I will be retired within the next 4 yrs and we have already purchased a small simple hoouse in the south to move back to immediately following my retirement :-)

    And we couldn’t be happier, even all of our prior and current “trials” as my wife refers to them

    • says

      Hey Chris;

      Wow that is outrageous! Way to long. I feel for you and pray that it goes faster now. Together soon I am sure of it!

      As for the UK being easier, nope, we just lucked out as my friend was in the same situation here in the UK as you are in the US, it took him almost 2 years processing the visa. And now they have made it even harder here, by extending the 2 year probationary stay to a 5 year if married before she can get nationalized or to 10 years if not married, and throughout that time you must extend your visa at £1500 a pop 3 times before the probationary period is over! So it is a money soul sucking experience even more so now!

      We are also doing the same thing as you are in respects to moving back to the Philippines. As soon as my wife has her dual citizenship at the end of 2013, we will be hopping on a plane and moving to the Phils for good! However having her british passport will allow us to travel, which is why we are going through this cost and stress for, as I am sure your well aware that getting a filipino a tourist visa is next to impossible, so this to me is it’s weight in gold. I would like to take her to vegas, or canada where I lived most of my life, just so she can see new and exciting things and by doing it the way we are allows for freedom of travel!

      To end this long comment, you will be in for a super happy christmas, now that your wife will be joining you this coming december! Best of luck and many happy returns!



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