Last week, I had a little errand to run. I needed to go to Union Bank and pick up my “Eon” card. You see, an Eon card is basically a Visa branded Debit card. The reason that I decided to get one is because Paypal is now set up to work in the Philippines using an Eon card. When you want to get your money from your Paypal account, they transfer the money on to an Eon card. There are other ways to do it too, but the Eon card is probably the most popular way that people are doing it here.
Anyway, I received notice that my Eon card was now at the Union Bank branch, and that I should pick it up. I was told that I needed to bring two types of Government issued IDs, so I brought my Driver’s License and my ACR I-Card. For those who don’t know what it is, the ACR I-Card is basically like a Green Card in the USA, it is the ID that a foreigner who lives here is issued by the Bureau of Immigration. It proves that you are a legal alien in the country.
So, I got to Union Bank with my two IDs in hand, waited in line at the “New Accounts” area, and when I got to the front, I presented the letter that had been mailed to me informing me of my card’s availability. “Sir, you need two kinds of ID” the lady told me. OK, no problem, I hand her my Driver’s License and my I-Card. She looks in the box containing maybe a couple hundred Eon cards, pulls mine out to look at it. But, she didn’t give it to me. Instead she turned to me and said “Sir, where is your Passport?” “What” I said, I was told to bring two types of ID, which I have. “My I-Card contains all the information that my Passport has, and is the legal ID that shows that my stay here in the Philippines is legal.” “No sir” she said, “all foreigners must also show a Passport.” Well, there was no reason to fight about it, I can’t win that fight anyway. So, I ran home and got my Passport too.
Well, after getting my passport, all was well, I was issued my Eon card, and I’m in business.
This incident kicked off a little thought in my mind, though. From time to time, I hear from other foreigners here who tell me that they intend to obtain Philippine Citizenship. I never am quite certain what their reason is, or what benefits they expect to gain from such citizenship here. But, here is the question that came to my mind when I thought about this incident:
Does anybody believe that if they were a Philippine Citizen (naturalized), if they went and picked up an Eon card they would not need a Passport?
I simply do not believe that a naturalized citizen would not be required to present a passport, if they were (by looks) a foreigner. I have asked this question of many foreigners over the last week, and a few Filipinos too. So far, every person that I asked agreed with my theory that even if a foreigner had become a citizen here, he would have to present a Passport to pick up that Eon card that I mentioned. What do you think?
The thing is, I have no problem if somebody wants to become a Citizen of the Philippines. I just don’t understand the reason why they would desire that. Maybe somebody could explain it to me. What advantages are to be gained? I suppose that if somebody were very “gung ho” about the Philippines, maybe it’s just a sense of patriotism or something like that. I consider myself to be strongly pro-Philippines, though, and I have no desire to become a citizen. For somebody from the first world (USA, Europe, Australia, etc) they would actually be giving up a lot of benefits if their naturalization meant that they lost their former citizenship. As an American, you can travel to virtually any country in the world with either no need for a visa, or very minimal requirements. As a Philippine citizen, travel outside the country can be quite difficult.
What do you think? Can you share with me any benefits of becoming a Citizen of the Philippines?