Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coney, welcome to America, to the American Dream

I picked Coney from Los Angeles International Airport today July 23, 2014
from a 18 hour Manila-to-Southern-California trip.

Today marks a transition in both our lives. For me its the end of living alone for seven years while raising three kids: Justin, Trevor and Kristen. It marks a change from being independent and into a married life. I feel excited about this change, and inside me, I feel the urge to scream "Its about time! Heck Yeah!".

Picking up Coney from Los Angeles International Airport

For Coney, it marks the day from being single and no kids to beig married and embracing my three kids. I'm not a mind reader but I wonder what's in Coney's mind and her concept about The American Dream. Is embracing my kids, part of that American Dream? My question to the reader is, what does the phrase "The American Dream" mean to you?

I learned a lot of experiences about living independently that I wouldn't otherwise came across had I not got divorced. What would those be you might ask.

Stopping by a 24 Hr Diner for a Burger. She got hungry after a long journey and found Airline food to be horrible.

First that comes to mind is my Cooking skill. Back in my previous married life,I was content of cooking the occasional Pork or Chicken Barbecue or a killer Pancake or French Toast breakfast with all its accompaniments. Living independently and having three mouths changed all that. Feeding three kids under my own roof challenged me to come up with cooking Filipino, Asian, American, Mexican, you name it- dishes, in the most authentic and fastest way of cooking it. Imagine coming home from work on a weekday at 6 PM and still having to don a Kitchen Apron and cook up Dinner that will be ready by 7:30 PM - 8 PM.

I have my collection of cooking cheat sheet videos in the form of downloaded YouTube Cooking videos. For the life of me, I easily forget cooking ingredients , procedures and techniques. A quick view of a cooking video changes all that. All my Cookbook collections just gather dust on my bookshelf now. They've become obsolete in this age of instantaneous videos. My favorite cooking video that I've used on a daily basis over the years is Tony's YouTube Cooking videos also known as Foodtrip28's cooking videos. Toney, sulit dyay inaramid mo nga cooking videos lakay.

There's lots more and other instances: Trying to juggle a lot of things: Running a household; Getting the kids to help clean the house / kitchen; Balancing the checkbook; keeping up with Training/skills to be on top of my Information Technology career; helping my three kids with schoolwork; on and on.

It also marks an end to ten months of waiting, of a long distance love relationship. We used all possible Internet technologies on the books: SMS Text Messaging, Skpe Webcam chats, Yahoo Messenger chats, Facebook wall messages. We still used the good old pen, paper, greeting card and stamps, but those were used on special occasions only.

My feeling is this: it was nice being independent and single for a while, but I feel that life has to move on. We are all humans and deserve to love and be loved. I speak for myself though. I know a lot of people who are single and live a perfectly happy and content life.

I still have my three kids and I love them so much. And now I have Coney in my life, and Coney has me, my love and my commitment of love to her in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow till death do us part. This is one of the happiest moments in my life - with Coney into our lives. And for this, I praise the Lord, for His goodness to me, to us.

So, to mark the event I'm switching my Facebook status from "In a Relationship" to "Married".

Monday, July 07, 2014

Justin finishes High School, and KC Elementary School

I haven't made a Blog entry about my son and daughter. Better late than never, I guess.

Justin finished High School at Mount Carmel High School last June 12, 2014. Kristen had her promotion from Elementary School last June 11, 2014 from Rolling Hills Elementary School.

Time really flies that Justin and Kristen finished their respective grades.

God job my kids, carry on with pursuing your education.

Saint Louis University Alumni proposed website

So yesterday, I got a green light from fellow Louisian Henry Fine and Team to go ahead develop the Saint Louis University Alumni International website. I got the domain name established.

When I say Saint Louis University, its not the Saint Louis University at Saint Louis Missouri or Madrid Spain, rather the Saint Louis University at Baguio City Philippines, hence the word "International" in the domain name.

I'm pretty excited to be a part of this effort. I haven't been perfect in executing previous projects but I've learned my lessons from those experiences. I'll execute this Project in a more elegant and professional fashion.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

CR-1 Visa Case Interview Experience of Coney at U.S. Embassy Manila Philippines

My wife who lives in Caloocan City Metro Manila left at 4:30 AM and carried along this two inch three ring binder full of documents and pictures.

She  took the Light Rail Transit to commute to  the US Embassy at Roxas Boulevard, Manila and arrived at the US Embassy around 5:10 AM. Upon arriving, she found the queue of people intending to enter the US Embassy to be long.

The U.S. Embassy rent-a-cop opened the gate for Applicants at 6:00 AM. Upon checking the Appointment Letter, the guard issued a Form document which will be filled out by Applicant and returned at a window counter at a later time.

The queue for Tourist, working visa, and Immigrant visa applications were separate.

The number was called out four times at four different counters. The manner in which the number was called out was not in sequence rather in a random fashion.

At around 6:45 AM, a clerk called my wife to the first Counter and took some information regarding our petition case. The Clerk checked our Appointment Letter, Petition Case; verified that the Appointment Letter had a stamp from St. Luke's Clinic signifying that a Physical/Medical exam was performed; fingerprint card; and checked my wife's Philippines Passport . She was issued a number and was instructed to take a seat.

Some of the Applicant who queued early at the Embassy were not finished with their Interview when my wife left the US Embassy. A piece of advise is, make sure the Applicant eats a packed breakfast, something for breakfast prior to entering the US Embassy.

At the second window, a Filipina clerk interviewed my wife in Tagalog about our petition case and details of our relationship, marriage.

At the third window, interview was conducted by a young American lady Consul. Interview questions ranged from: What is the profession of your husband? What is the Profession of my wife. My profession is an Engineer. My wife's profession is a Registered Nurse. The Consul's remark is, there is so much demand for Registered Nurses in the U.S. , your husband probably will stop working when my wife is fully employed. My personal response to that is, not in California with the high cost of living in this State, gotta have a two income family to make ends meet. She was asked whether my wife intends to work in the United States to which she replied yes.

Other questions were, details about us both such as our birthday and age. Question such as: why was the wedding conducted in Hong Kong, who attended our Wedding ceremony. At that point , the Consul asked for a picture evidence of the wedding event specifically a group picture showing witnesses i.e. relatives attending the event.

Other questions are whether I had previous marriage to which my wife replied yes. Whether I had children (which is yes) and whether my wife had children as well (which is no). Whether my wife was in a previous marriage prior to our marriage (to which the reply is no). Question was asked about the name of my ex-wife and where is she currently residing.

Question was also asked as to how I became a US Citizen to which her reply is being a child of a U.S. Serviceman in the 50's and 60's, that  I inherited my US Citizenship through my father. Question was asked as to how long I lived in the United States.

Questions was asked as to how and how often did we communicate;  how long have we known each other prior to marriage to which the reply are: through SMS Text messaging, Chat sessions using Yahoo Messenger, Facebook chat, Skype chat with Webcam, frequency is daily if possible, by Letter and greeting cards on special occasions.

The interviewing Consul handed my wife a pamphlet about domestic violence. She was instructed about what to do in case of domestic violence in the home and how to report the case. She was instructed that her status will not be affected if domestic violence happens during the conditional period. My wife replied that the she already attended a Seminar about Domestic Violence conducted by the Commission of Filipinos Overseas, an agency of the Philippine Government.

My wife's impression is that the interviewing Consul felt that her replies to the Interview questions were sincere and the she didn't give her a hard time. She noted that the experience of other applicants were otherwise, that the Consul was skeptical to other applicant's replies and documentation.

At fourth window, my wife was asked to surrender the form that was initially issued to her at the U.S. Embassy entrance. This form asked information as to the address where the Philippine Passport with approved CR-1 visa will be sent to.

She left the US Embassy around 9:30 AM. Since food was not allowed inside the Embassy, she ordered a Burger for brunch at some fast-food joint along the way home, and took the Light Rail Transit going back home.