There was an American Expat that came to the Philippines in 2018 looking for a new life. He did not worry about plans for tomorrow, he just came with nothing more than dreams of happiness. This Expats story in the Philippines ended in approximately six (6) months after arrival, he passed away from a heart attack. Upon his death, a helpless situation remained for those he left behind in the Philippines.
There are more than an estimated 220,000 U.S. citizens that reside in the Philippines, an estimated 650,000 U.S. citizens visit the Philippines each year. The numbers could be much larger. The largest number of foreigners in the Philippines are from the United States of America. Many of these Americans are Senior U.S. citizens and death is not unusual.
There are specific procedures for handling the death of a U.S. citizen in foreign countries. The death is to be reported immediately to the United States Embassy in the Philippines (Embassy). Contact information at the Embassy for reporting is provided on their website. The Embassy will notify the next of kin, if necessary, and carry out their instructions regarding the disposition of remains. Additionally, unless the legal next of kin is in the Philippines, the Embassy may act on behalf of the executor as the provisional custodian of the estate. Needless to say, Expats should have contact information available that is attainable by others with instructions.
The Embassy is required to report the death of American civilians to the deceased next of kin and to the Department of State. Consequently, there is a need to know the deceased person’s name, date and place of birth, passport number, date and place of death, cause of death, and the location of the remains. There is also a need to know the full name and address of the next of kin so that the Embassy can determine instructions regarding arrangements for the deceased.
Once the death certificate is issued by Philippine authorities, the Embassy will prepare a Consular Report of Death of An American Citizen Abroad. This document will assist the next of kin with legal matters that may arise as a result of the death.
Dealing with the death of this particular American Expat was far from routine. His main plan for happiness in the Philippines was to get married to his fiancée in the near future. He came with no money, no income and only plans for a small business to support himself and the wife to be. He was 58 so did not have any type of benefits. To make matters worse, he was not in good health because of a heart condition and was suffering with high blood pressure. In the Philippines he had inquired about medical help and medication. He was not on medications or under doctor’s care at the time of his death. His fiancée or her family did not have money. She quit a job in another country to come be with her soon to be husband.
At the time of death, a British Expat that was familiar with the Expat that passed away and fiancée stepped up to take care of the situation by following procedures of contacting the Embassy and handling of the body. The results of the initial contact was frustration by both the Expat and the representative with at the Embassy. A problem was that money was needed for handling of the deceased person’s burial. The Embassy or the Department of State has no funds to assist in burials, the return of remains or ashes of U.S. citizens who die abroad. The Bureau of Consular Affairs assists the next-of-kin to convey instructions to the appropriate offices within the foreign country, and provides information to the family on how to transmit the necessary private funds to cover the costs overseas.
This Expat had not furnished names of next of kin contacts. He was single and his immediate family consisted of three children from prior marriages. The children were very much removed from their father. The next of kin of the deceased had to be researched and established. This was successful. This was successful. The results of the initial contact of the first child was not successful. A contact to a second brother was also unsuccessful. They had their own circumstances and were no help. A contact to the third child, a sister was not totally unsuccessful. However, this person thought there was a hoax involved. At least this person was responsive and seemed to be the person to contact as the next of kin of the deceased.
This is where the Filipino people stepped up. The fiancée’ and others involved had a friend that lived in the US near where this next of kin person lived. The Filipino friend jumped into action to drive about 4 hours and visit with this next of kin of the deceased Expat. This visit accomplished with the next kin not to be a hoax. This next of kin person did not have much money to help with any burial. What did get established is a legal next of kin spokesman. It was established that the deceased Expat being an American Citizen was to be buried in the Philippines.
The Filipino people stepped up again. The cost of the funeral was known and there was a donation campaign established. The money got raised for the burial of the American Citizen. When this was accomplished the Filipino friend in the US, the legal next of kin, a representative with the Embassy got authorization for the burial.
There were so many people involved to accomplish this successful result. I got involved with some other American Expats by providing donations of money. There cannot be enough great things said about the initial British Expat that contacted the Embassy and was involved with every aspect. The Filipino friend in the US rose to a special cause by traveling and visiting with the deceased next of kin. There were so much more greatness involved.
I certainly have my thoughts about a person coming to a foreign country the way it happened in this situation. There are so many warnings, tips and books about relocating to the Philippines. That subject is covered! In this situation, it was a matter of living for today which turned out to be the worse of results.
This was truly a sad situation including for those that the deceased Expat left behind in the helpless situation. The positive on this story is watching the people most of which were Filipinos rise to the occasion. I learned the beauty of the Philippines includes the people stepping up and helping each other.