Today we had an appointment at Immigration at 9:00 AM. This was to be the day we finally got our I-9 visas. We brought all the kids down to the Immigration office, about a quarter mile away from our house. The NBA finals were on a TV in the waiting room. We got to see the whole thing. Unfortunately, not even Ezekiel was interested in the game (he likes to play basketball, but not to watch it). So the kids were bored:
After about an hour and a half, we were invited back and made small talk with an official who asked us what mission we were with, and identified each of our kids. He signed some papers.
And more papers. And more papers. Visas for a family of 6 means a lot of papers for everyone at Immigration:
An hour later, it was time for fingerprinting, a messy process:
At this point, we needed to go to Victoria Plaza Mall to make a bunch of photocopies of various forms and print new Visa photos of each of us. We got the photos at a tiny shop:
Hosanna decided to hide behind her mother while Sora was being photographed:
Then, after a stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, we parted ways: Sora went to get the forms copied, while I took the kids to the toy section of Victoria department store. I told the kids they could each get something, provided it was less than 100 pesos. Our kids are so stereotypical. Ezekiel and Isaiah looked at toy weapons, Lego, and remote control helicopters. Hosanna and Naomi looked at dolls:
There were some pretty amusing toys at Victoria. The kids and I had recently watched Toy Story 3, so we were amused to find Lotso among the stuffed animals. There was also a very cool plush Yoda in bodhisattva pose. Isaiah, however, was more interested in the squirrel on the same shelf, probably because of his memories of Jack-Jack, pet squirrel of our friend Erin.
There are certain benefits to being in a country that doesn’t enforce trademarks very well. One is that you can buy faux Nike basketball shoes for cheap. Another is that you can get Batman, Superman, the Incredible Hulk, and the Avengers all in the same package, without shelling out for separate DC and Marvel merchandise:
In the end, Ezekiel got some batteries for a remote control car he already owned. Isaiah and Naomi got small bags of marbles, and Hosanna opted for a silver tiara bedecked with blue jewels. It will probably break by next Monday.
Sora still wasn’t quite finished, so the younger three kids got one ride on the carousel while Ezekiel stood outside the railing and mocked in the way only a superior elder brother can.
Rejoining Sora, we returned to Immigration — no small feat crossing busy four-lane JP Laurel with four kids, dodging jeepneys as though in a game of Frogger. Once across the street, we discovered that Immigration’s photo system was down for the day, so they wouldn’t be able to produce our I-cards today. So we’ll have to come back to get those. They will allow us to get drivers’ licenses and open a Filipino bank account, thus avoiding a bunch of fees every time we get money at an ATM (hitherto the only way to do it).
Upshot: we are now legal for the next year, and don’t need to file for renewal until February.
Thanks for your prayers!