If you live in the Philippines (or any country, really) when you need to conduct some kind of transaction with the U.S. Government, that generally means that you will schedule a trip to Manila and visit the U.S. Embassy. Virtually any kind of issue that you need to deal with the Government about can be handled by the Embassy for you. In addition to the Embassy in Manila, there is a U.S. Consulate in Cebu. However, the Consulate in Cebu is only a part time venture, and the number of business items they can handle for you is very limited. So, for the most part, you will need to deal with the Embassy rather than the Consulate.
Imagine, though, if you live outside Manila! Visiting the Embassy to take care of your business can be a big expense, and also a hassle. As an example, last year all of my kids needed new passports, theirs had expired. In order to apply for a new passport, if you are overseas, both the father and mother of a minor must be present during the application (it prevents things like parental kidnappings and such). So, for our 3 boys to get new passports, it would mean that 5 of us would need to go to Manila for at least 2 days. Really, our girl (who is not American, she’s adopted) would probably come along with us too, so that would mean 6 people traveling. It’s also likely that we would stay 3 days (2 nights) to do a few other things while we were there. Figure airfare of P5,000 each, that makes P30,000. We would probably need 2 hotel rooms for 2 nights, figure P3,000 per night (that’s not a high end place, Manila is more expensive), you are talking P12,000. Meals in Manila aren’t inexpensive either. Six people to feed, that makes 18 meals per day (3 meals each), figure P20,000 for meals. With kids, you’re going to have snacks and such too, but we won’t even count that. Just for the very basics I’ve listed, the trip would cost a minimum of P62,000, that’s about $1,400 and that doesn’t even pay for the passports! You’ve also got taxis, inevitable shopping and other expenses, I’d bet the trip would put you back P80,000 at the very minimum.
We were all ready to schedule the trip and pay the big bucks until we found out some good news. The US Embassy sends a team of people to Davao twice per year to extend it’s services to US Citizens who live in the Davao area! In addition, they travel to other Cities around the Philippines regularly as well! I know they go to Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga in Mindanao, and places around the Visayas and Luzon as well. Last year, we went to the US “Virtual Embassy” (as they call it) when they visited Davao, took care of all of our business with them while they were in town, and we saved at least P80,000 in the process!
If you are in Davao, the Embassy personnel generally visit around April and October, and they usually set up shop at the Marco Polo Hotel. If you are in another part of the Philippines, check the schedule of visits to your area by contacting the Embassy in Manila. Their phone number is: (02) 528-6300 Extension 2555.