Readers' Submissions

Told You So (4) – Regularising My Philippina Princess

May 2009 – here we were in Cyprus. Neither of us had a Residence Certificate. I, as an EU citizen (Cyprus is part of the EU though God knows how or why) had no great problem although I was technically in breach of the laws that said I should acquire
one after three months residence. (The vast majority of my UK friends never bothered).

My FP, of course, was in a different boat. I was introduced to her by a Filipina friend who at that time I thought I knew and whom I trusted. It wasn’t an ‘introduction’ I had planned or requested – it was simply
that my apartment needed cleaning and I wanted to put some work my (illegal) Filipina friend’s way. She brought her friend (FP) with her, FP and I went out for a coffee and the rest, as they say, is history.

FP’s situation was this. She had come to Cyprus on a four year combined residence/work permit as a 24/7 live-in nanny for a Cypriot professional family. (And it was, believe me, 24/7. She shared a bedroom with the two children she
cared for). That had finished when the children became of age to start school, she told me, and the job finished so she did what all Filipinas do when they aren’t ready to back yet and paid a lawyer to file an application for asylum as
a refugee. On what grounds I don’t know (and was never able to find out) because as far as I know the Philippines is regarded as a lawful democracy where the rule of law applies, etc. Maybe the basis was as an ‘economic refugee’
(Phils can earn much more in the West than at home) but as far as I know that’s not grounds for asylum.

The grounds for the application were not so significant as the fact that CY Immigration were slow and inefficient. By making an asylum claim, applicants were almost guaranteed a year's grace while the application was considered. This
was the case with my FP. Her case had been considered and rejected (no surprise) and she was liable for deportation. Her next step was to pay another lawyer and appeal (maybe another year’s delay). Or, of course, to find an EU citizen and
marry him. Which she did, there I was, and which we did in fairly short order although I don’t want to suggest that either my FP or my Filipina ‘friend’ had that in mind on that fateful day when I met my FP.

White knight hat on and here I come to the rescue, knowing that if we married she could not be deported and in fact would have all the same rights as would a citizen of the EU throughout the EU. So marriage it would be and I plunged head-first
into the dark pool which is Filipina papers.

butterflies bangkok

As far as I was concerned the papers were fairly simple. I had my passport and a court copy of my Decree Absolute (divorce) from the UK. The only possible complication was that I may have to send the Decree back to the Foreign Office in the
UK for certification under the Hague Convention and have an endorsement affixed (an ‘apostille’) which certifies a legal document in one country so that it is acceptable in another. So far so good. But then I found out about the
infamous Philippines ‘single paper’.

I’ll get back to this later, but in simple terms a Filipino/a wishing to marry must get a certificate from their Public Records Office (NSO or Office of National Statistics) no more than three months old and (if it is to be used abroad)
certified by the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) with silver seal, pink ribbon and all, to ‘prove’ that he/she is single. WTF? I thought, how would they know that she didn’t slink off to Las Vegas and get married, but
I’ll get back to this later.

FP didn’t have this, of course, but got her Mum in the Phils on the job involving many hours on the bus to Manila to NSO and DFA and eventually a ‘single paper’ was produced – after we’d got married, as
it happened, and worth – well, probably the small amount they paid for it but that’s something I’ll come to later.

FP and I wanted to push along the marriage and this was CY (same same as LOS) so we followed several routes.


I looked at the cases of several Filipinas we knew (and as in previous cases I’ve cited these are not anecdotal cases I’ve heard of but personal experiences of people known to me) to draw inspiration.

One Filipina had married well, a much older CY guy who owned properties and had several pensions. He had just died and she was in the process of making her claim on the estate, contested (not surprisingly) by his son. Her problem was that
she had assumed her sister’s identity to enter CY and marry (she had previously been blacklisted as an illegal overstayer) so it was difficult for her to prove her claim, not least because the sister back in the Philippines (the rightful
owner of the passport) had become aware of this and was intending to go CY and claim ‘her’ inheritance.

A good friend of mine in CY (an English guy) is married to a Filipina. She has a house back in the Phils where her teenage daughter lives, looked after by a housemaid who gets about £30 month live-in. (My friend contributes). As far
as my friend knows, she is a widow. Some Filipinas believe that the child is the result of a long-forgotten fling when the mother was working overseas. The informed opinion is that her husband is alive and kicking in the Phils. My friend is getting
more sex and care than he ever had before. He doesn’t care about the facts (but he’ll have to soon when renewal of the papers is due).

Inspired by this friend (and discouraged by the fat and unhelpful Civic Marriage Officer where we lived) off we went to speak to the local RC priest (now retired). He was well known for helping Filipinas in all sorts of ways and it was a
tradition that many of them went back to his house after Sunday Mass for a communal lunch. One or two may stay to do the washing-up and assist with household chores….

Our interview did not go well. FP pretended to be a catholic but didn’t know the script and I’m a divorced atheist.

Back to the civil procedures, and back to baksheesh. Through contacts I found a ‘marriage agent’ who could expedite matters. 1,000 Euros all in (the actual cost of the licence, etc., is about 300, I found. I called him and he
asked ‘When you want to get married, tomorrow?’ ‘No’, I said, ‘the next day will do’. So we did (and it’s recorded here with a photo in a previous submission).

‘But what about the ‘single paper’ from the Phils?’ I hear those of you still awake cry. Well, it turned up eventually (after we were married) and for the marriage itself the Municipal Marriage Officer was happy
to accept an ‘affidavit’ from a Philippines lawyer which said that my FP had never been married. At the time so was I. It was only later that the fact she hadn’t signed it and wasn’t even in the Phils that it was made
struck home…

(Sorry, birth certificate etc. As promised will follow).

Stickman's thoughts:

Recent stories on this site and a report from a mate involved with a Filipina makes me think that they see a piece of paper as just that, a piece of paper and nothing more!