By Daniella Flanagan
A RANKING Filipino diplomat said the Philippine Consulate in Houston is set to open soon even as she admits that its opening has been delayed due to unexpected developments.
Philippine Honorary Consul in Dallas Ethel Mercado confirmed that the initial plan for a soft opening of the Consulate in Houston in late summer of 2018 is delayed. She added, however, that the core members of the consular officials have already arrived in Houston and working hard in preparing all the logistics and permits needed to open the office.
This is an exhaustive and time-consuming process. Every step of the process must be approved not only by the Philippine Department of Affairs (DFA) but also by the U.S. State Department. Imagine processing requests through two bureaucracies, Mercado said.
Meanwhile, in light of the delay in the opening of the Houston Consulate, the plans for Consular Outreach in Dallas, San Antonio, and McAllen, commonly referred to in Texas as (RGV); which were earlier shelved may be revisited before the end of 2018. The purpose of reviving the outreach is to help kababayans who need the services urgently for remainder of 2018 as a stop-gap measure.
What Kinds of Services Are Available through a Consulate Office
Among the services that the Embassy/Consulates General provides are the following:
- Consular Outreach Program
- Passport | Travel Documents | Visas
- Adult New Applicant
- Adult Renewal Applicant
- Minor New/Renewal Applicant
- Travel Document
- Authentication / Acknowledgment
- Civil Registry
- Solemnization of Marriage
- Report of Marriage
- Report of Birth
- Report of Death and/or Consular Mortuary Certificate
- Dual Citizenship
- Visa -Non-immigrant and Immigrant
- Waiver of Exclusion Ground
- Certificate of Not the Same Person
- Balikbayan Program
- Pet Transport to the Philippines
- Applying for NBI clearances
- Renewal of Philippine driver’s license
- Medical Missions to the Philippines
- Securing of J-1 waivers
- Other – Authentication/acknowledgment of documents, such as SPAs, Deeds, school and medical records, even Trademarks
Key Texas Organization(s) Supporting the ConGen
At the same time, Mercado took the time to thank the Philippine American Chambers of Commerce of Texas (PACC-Texas) and its chapters in Houston, Dallas, McAllen, San Antonio for its consistency in supporting the Consulate Outreach program in Texas. She said their volunteers have been showing up for a decade to each consulate outreach to assist their kababayans.
“Texas Kababayans should be very happy and proud of what they have accomplished. This collaboration has helped more than 30,000 Filipinos in Texas and neighboring states in the last 10 years alone,” Mercado said.
It is estimated that with the regular Consulate Outreaches, the Filipinos in Texas saved US$15 million in travel expenses since they no longer need to go to Los Angeles in California to avail of the consulate services.
“Until further notice and at least through 2019, the Honorary Consulate in Dallas headed by Honorary Consul Ethel Mercado will continue to grant emergency passports and other travel documents for those who have to go home urgently but with expired passports.
It will also continue to process SPAs, Authentication documents, Reports of Birth and Marriage, and other consular documents.
Call Consular Assistant Nelia Africa for appointment: 940-728-2222 or email email@example.com.
The Dallas office is open 5 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm. Requests for emergency passports are usually processed on the same day.
Handy Links to Organizations in the Philippines