Consular Outreach Program to Benefit Filipinos in RGV
WESLACO –Filipinos in the Rio Grande Valley need to travel hundreds of miles for simple consulate services. However, the Philippine Consulate will soon be coming to them.
The travel cost was mounting for Rhodora Elizondo. She said the option to process paperwork once a year in the Valley will save her money.
Elizondo is from the Philippines and was training to become a teacher in Canada.
“But I was riding the train, and then I saw an advertisement that they need teachers in Texas. So I applied and I got in,” she said.
Almost 15 years later, she’s learned to call the U.S. home but still keeps her grassroots.
“When I became a citizen in 2007, I still wanted to retain my Filipino citizenship. So I applied for dual citizenship,” Elizondo said.
She said renewing her Philippine passport every five years got pricey.
“The plane ticket is very expensive, but not only that the hotel if you’re going, travelling alone then you need someone to share the room with so you can save,” she said.
Board member for the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce RGV Region, Jennifer Cleveland, said Elizondo isn’t the only one struggling to pay.
“One of the big problems we have here is we have a Philippine passport that only has a five-year term, and a lot of the issues that arise is that they have to fly out of McAllen to go to Los Angeles to get their passport renewed. That takes a lot of time, effort, money, resources,” Cleveland said.
She said a consular outreach program last year eased that burden. Elizondo was one of those who benefited.
“We have a large population of Filipinos and they do need the service. It’s not cost effective when you have to take time out of your work to fly to Los Angeles,” Cleveland said.
The consular outreach program will return on April 22 and April 23 this year. Elizondo said she’ll return to process some paperwork. She said she knows people from surrounding cities are anxious to attend.
“We’re getting people from Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas, from Texas and they only have to drive to get here,” she said.
Cleveland said she’s expecting a bigger turn out than last year. She encourages people to apply early before the roughly 300 spots fill up.
She added she’s seen the benefit the consular outreach program has on the Filipino community in the Valley. She said people shouldn’t have to spend thousands to obtain basic consulate services.
Signups for the program are taking place and will close April 14. The event will take place April 22 through April 23, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with an hour break from Noon to 1:00 p.m.
The consular services offered will be:
- Renewal and/or first time applications for passports.
- Applications for the retention or reacquisition for Philippine citizenship or dual citizenship.
- Marriage, birth and notarial authentication.
For more information visit http://www.philippineconsulatela.org/consular-outreach-in-mcallen-tx