Welcome back to Postcards From Afar!
Two weeks ago, I revealed the reason I'm currently in Costa Rica. If you missed that email or didn't get a chance to read it yet, then read it first!
You can read it here: Why Costa Rica?
For those people who are following my journey, then you must be wondering:
Where is your girlfriend Jesa?
Is she with you in Costa Rica now?
Did you get married or are you getting married soon?
(FYI - Jesa is affectionately called Luna in my poetry, and together we manage the Night & Luna social media account).
Last time, I left you at the point where Jesa was going through the immigration checkpoint at the Manila, Philippines airport. And if you remember, I was getting nervous, since her flight's boarding time was fast approaching.
The immigration officer had a lot of questions for my girlfriend. About her travel plans and our relationship. All of it, for some reason, raised red flags.
Jesa patiently, and sometimes nervously, answered the officer's questions. She did a great job, especially with it being her first time flying.
I tried to be on video chat as much as possible. To comfort her and reassure her everything would be okay. And to also find out what was happening.
But there were times, during the immigration interview that she had to hang up our call.
I remember waiting a long time. Either for Jesa to message or call, but there were no updates. Nothing. Complete silence.
And I was starting to get nervous. Worried.
I kept asking myself, why is it taking so long? Why the extra due diligence to my girlfriend flying out of the Philippines? Why are they asking so many questions about our relationship?
After all, I'm a popular poet in the Philippines, but I guess the immigration officer doesn't follow me or our Night & Luna page on Facebook.
If he did, he'd know exactly why we were trying to meet in Costa Rica. That we want to get married abroad, because the Philippines isn't letting foreigners in. And I haven't been able to get there for over a year due to the pandemic.
Going to the Philippines to meet and marry my girlfriend in her home country has always been my first choice!
So, what happened next?
As Jesa was waiting for the immigration officer to return, she sent me a few messages, updating me on the situation. She was sitting down, in a glassed-off area at the immigration checkpoint. She was nervous and worried too.
Clutching my phone in my hand, another five minutes passed by. And then that's when I got a video call from Jesa.
Although I was finally happy to see her beautiful face, she was heartbroken. Before she could tell me the bad news, I could see it in her eyes and facial expression.
It turns out the Philippines immigration officer at the airport wouldn't let her get on the flight to exit the country. One of their biggest concerns was that we have never met in person. So in their eyes, it was a questionable relationship at best.
Our only hope of seeing each other was a note card the officer gave to Jesa. It listed four things we needed to have ready the next time she tried to leave the country.
And one of those things, an Affidavit of Support from Foreign Partner, required me to travel to Costa Rica. We found out the affidavit had to be duly notarized and certified by the Philippines Consulate in Costa Rica and couldn’t be done anywhere else.
Yes, that meant to get Jesa to Costa Rica, I would have to travel to Costa Rica first without her. It's a good thing I already had a flight and lodging reservations booked, so I decided to keep my original travel itinerary.
Our plans of meeting would have to wait!
Within days after landing in Costa Rica, I was able to secure the required affidavit and mail it back to the Philippines. The people at the Philippines Consulate were wonderful, friendly and understanding of our unique situation.
Jesa would need to have the original copy of affidavit in her hands the next time she went through the airport's immigration checkpoint. Unfortunately, DHL shipping from Costa Rica to Philippines takes a full week and there is no rush service. But a little over a week later, she received the envelope. That was one requirement down.
Two of the other requirements will be easy to provide. Copies of our passport bio pages and proof of our relationship: chat conversations, photos together (even if they were over video chat) and remittances (for gifts, etc.).
The last item on that note card has proven the most difficult. In fact, the process of securing it has taken over a month, and…
I am deeply saddened to say that Jesa is still not here with me.
Both Jesa and I were not prepared for the additional steps. We’ve already had to wait a long time and this new challenge is yet another roadblock along our journey together. But don’t worry, we haven’t given up hope!
So, keep your eyes open for the next newsletter. Because in the next update, I'll reveal what that last requirement is and why it's proven so difficult for us to get.
Thanks for reading,