In the first post of this series, I shared the story of my son’s birth in Philippines. After his birth, the next steps were to register his birth, obtain a (valid) birth certificate, apply for a Philippines passport, acquire his Australian citizenship, and finally apply for his Australian passport. No big deal!
On the day of his birth one of the midwives at the lying-in birthing centre brought us papers to fill in. We “duly accomplished” the forms, with information about the mother, the father, and certified and signed by the midwife. The midwife then took a tricycle with me up to Lucena City Hall.
Upon arrival at City Hall, we headed up to the second floor office of the Civil Registrar. As we stood waiting at the counter, a single row of people sat lined up along the wall to my right side, their feet intruding into the narrow aisle where staff were trying to walk back and forth.
One lady, upon hearing that we were there to register a birth, handed us a form that I immediately filled in. Another checked it. A third person handed the form back along with a scribbled amount on a torn scrap of paper and sent us downstairs to the cashier’s office to pay.
Because my partner and I are not legally married, I had to make a declaration of paternity confirming that I am in fact the father of my son. For the honour, privilege, and legal obligation of doing this, we were required to pay an additional P400 or so.
At the cashier’s office downstairs, one lady took my scrap of paper, typed a few things into the computer, and issued me a number to wait in a queue. Fortunately, the wait was fairly brief (about 5 minutes) and then the lady at the adjacent counter called me and I was able to pay the fee.
I headed back upstairs and returned to the counter from whence I’d come. Another staff member took my form and receipt, and asked us to take a seat. After about 10 minutes of waiting we were called in to speak with another person. By now, I was on to my 5th staff member of the Civil Registrar’s office (to say nothing of the 2 cashiers I’d also seen).
Staff Member #5 invited me to take a seat and started reading through the documentation. When she got to the part about Ronan being the 3rd living child of Irish, she turned to me to confirm “This is your 3rd child?”. I responded “Ma’am, this is Irish’s third child. He is my fifth child.”
This stumped her for a moment, but then she realised that I’d clearly made a mistake. “You’ve said here it’s your 3rd child.”
“No, I’m sorry Ma’am, I’ve said it’s Irish’s third child. This is the section about the mother — her name, date of birth, profession, and which number child this is of the mother.”
“No sir, you’re the informant, di ba (that’s true)?”
“Yes po, I’m the informant, but I have informed you about the mother in this section, and I have informed you about me in the section about the father.”
After some more consideration, Staff Member #5 of the Lucena Civil Registrar’s Office decided that the Informant has to be the mother because I can’t fill in the part saying it’s the third child if the child is in fact my fifth child. Hence, I would need to return to the lying-in clinic and have the midwives re-type the entire birth record so that Irish is the informant.
I did speak briefly with a Manager, but by now they had all made up their mind that the only person who could be the informant was the mother, as anybody else would be (falsely?) stating the child’s birth order as though it were the birth order of their own biological children.
At this point, the midwife and I gave up and took a tricyle back to the lying-in clinic. She re-typed the birth record, we all signed as necessary, and we made the trip back to City Hall.
This time, having already paid, I only needed to see 4 more people and my work at City Hall was done. The birth of my son was recorded, and we had a birth certificate from the Lucena City Civil Registrar’s Office. Only one thing remained to be done: it needed to be sent to the National Statistics Office (NSO) so that they could issue an NSO birth certificate. Because a Civil Registrar’s birth certificate is actually pretty much worthless — it can’t be used to obtain a passport or for anything else of any real consequence.
The process of getting the NSO Birth Certificate was not quite as difficult, but still involved two visits over ten days and several queues. We ordered three copies because in Philippines you don’t hang on to the ‘one and only’ original — you give away an NSO birth certificate every time you need to apply for a significant document. When we came to collect them we had to fill in a form with most of the key birth details just to tell them we were picking up the document, we had to wait over an hour with about sixty people ahead of us in the queue to pay the fee, then we had to join another queue and wait about 20 minutes to collect the documents. Fortunately, we just got through before closing time.
And that’s the story of how my son acquired a Filipino birth certificate!
In the next episode(s), I’ll cover how he got his Philippines passport, his Australian citizenship, and his Australian passport!