April 2015 | Cebu and Manila, Philippines —
he first part of this post is about the CFO interview and seminar for Filipinos married to Korean citizens. Before Danny and I set foot in Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), I scheduled for the CFO seminar and interview also known as the guidance and counseling program (GCP) online a couple of weeks prior to our trip. Few days later, I received a confirmation email from CFO Cebu online appointment system.
CFO accommodates 12 (Cebu) or 15 (Manila) slots for Korean spouses every Tuesdays or Thursdays only. Since we’ve heard that there are lesser applicants in Cebu than Manila, we decided to apply in Cebu plus a travel leisure opportunity awaits.
For us to have a hassle-free trip, we arrived in Cebu a day before the seminar and stayed in Executive Pension, a walking distance from the CFO.
I woke up at 6:30am the following day and dressed in decent clothes. Our pension house doesn’t have a restaurant so we had our breakfast at the nearest McDonald’s. Surprisingly, they don’t offer hot choco, which left us to choose coffee. After eating, we headed straight to CFO. I logged in to the security guard’s logbook and left Danny waiting outside. The guard doesn’t allow anyone else to come along with the applicant. I had to sweat out before reaching CFO because it is located on the fourth floor of the building and there are no elevators or escalators. The office is quite small comparing to Korean embassy in Manila. There are 2 seminar rooms on the left and 2 bigger rooms on the right. Across the entrance/exit door are 4 counters, window 1 takes the photograph of the applicant and windows 2 to 4 manage the applications.
These are the basic requirements:
The guard asked me to be seated and wait for my name to be called at Window 2 or 3. While waiting, I was observing what other applicants’ were doing. There were some families filling up forms, I guess they were planning to apply as emigrants. I didn’t wait long enough to be called to proceed to window 2. The staff gave me a blank form, wrote my name and Danny’s name in red pen (oh my. if it was in Korea, it means we’re deceased!) and gave me the form to finish filling it up. I entered pre-departure room 2 to fill up the form. There were only basic data questions, nothing to worry about memorizing anything. When I finished, I gave it back to the person-in-charge. I waited again to have my photograph taken then paid Php400 for the guidance and counseling fee. She, then, told me to come back at 1pm for the GCP. It was only 9:30am when I finished the registration. So, Danny and I decided to rest at the hotel for awhile. We came out at around 11am, took a very light lunch at Phat Pho in Robinson’s Cybergate.
We really lost our appetite since the incident that happened the night before. But, we got over it now. We were able to reach CFO before 1pm. Once again, Danny has to stay outside. The guard wrote “Korean” and the counselor’s name at the back of my receipt in red pen. (again!) Looking around, I didn’t see the families I saw earlier that day but only women with ages ranging from 20s to 40s. At exactly 1pm, there were 13 of us to enter pre-departure room 1 for a film viewing that lasted for almost an hour. It was about human trafficking. There was Dingdong Dantes as the host of the documentary film. When it was done, Japanese and Korean spouses were called to transfer to room 2. We were only 4, 2 for Japan and 2 for Korea. Before the counselor started discussing, she set some few rules. One of which is an active participation, meaning if she asks something, she also expects us to answer. The discussion was mainly about marriage and a little about legal documents and visas, etc. Around 4:30pm, she asked us all to step outside and wait to be called one by one for the interview. I was the last one to be called. I wasn’t that nervous because she was more in a hurry than interested in my love story. She asked me some additional documents, those were
- printed photos to prove my relationship with my husband,
- photocopy of legal capacity certificate which we got before the wedding,
- photocopy of foreigner’s bio-page passport and
- photocopy of notarized documents from the Korean embassy: Certificate of Family Relation and Certificate of Marriage Relation
I was, then, advised that I have to come back for a 2-day Korean cultural orientation (written below) which focuses on Korea and its culture and traditions before they can give the CFO certificate only (no sticker) but they have to set the date yet. That means we’ll be waiting again and spending some more on plane tickets, food, hotel, etc. Oh well!
NO CFO certificate,
NO CFO sticker.
It was almost 6 in the evening when I got out from the CFO. Danny got tired waiting outside all afternoon. He showed me his drawing of the spa house in front of the building. hehe
What else to see near CFO Cebu? LINK HERE.
Two-day Korean Cultural Orientation Program
Twelve working days after my guidance and counseling program and interview in CFO, it was a Friday, I got a call thru landline from my counselor that she scheduled me to attend the 2-day Korean cultural orientation program the following Wednesday and Thursday, before they could release my CFO certificate.
The program is important to provide knowledge and information about Korea and its culture and tradition. I believe a cross-cultural marriage isn’t just about two people committed to each other as husband and wife, but they are also able to accept each other’s background and at least learn even just a little bit of the other’s language. It doesn’t mean one must give up his/hers in order to adopt the other.
On the first day of the program or seminar, I reported to CFO at 8:15 in the morning. We were about 13 participants, all female. Some were interviewed 1-2 months prior to the cultural program. So, I think I got lucky I was able to join them within the same month I was interviewed. We started around 8:45am with topics like travel tips, what to do after arriving in Korea and a recap of what we discussed during the GCP. Each of us were given 2 useful books. According to our counselor, they were provided since year 2013 by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family (MOGEF) exclusively for the foreign migrant spouses. A big thanks to them!
In the afternoon, we discussed about the lifestyle in Korea. Actually, we read some parts of the guideline book about transportation, facilities for foreign spouses etc.
The next day, we had a special guest speaker. He lived in Korea for almost 20 years as a religious worker and he knows Korean, in terms of language and personality, very well. He talked more about the life in Korea and shared some stories about the lives of Filipina wives married to Koreans. We also did some Korean writing and reading drills.
We got our CFO certificate right after a fun-filled and interactive last day of the program. We were advised to come back to CFO again (Cebu or Manila) for the registration and sticker after getting the F6 spouse visa personally from the Korean embassy in Taguig.
Requirements for the registration:
- Valid passport
- Original CFO certificate
- Korean Spouse visa F6-1
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Can I go directly to CFO for the interview?
Answer: No, you must schedule an online appointment and secure a verification thru e-mail from CFO.
- How to make an online appointment? (from CFO website)
- Click the GOAS link for CFO Manila (www.gcp-appointment.cfo.gov.ph) or CFO Cebu (www.gcp-cebu-appointment.cfo.gov.ph) where you intend to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP).
- Answer preliminary questions to verify if you need to attend the Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP).
- If eligible for the GCP
• Indicate your e-mail address
• Click on the link sent to your e-mail
• Choose your preferred date of appointment
• Provide personal information of yourself and of your fiancé(e)/spouse/partner
- Print barcoded confirmation form or save a digital copy (PDF format) in your mobile phone or tablet.
- Take note of your date of appointment. Go to CFO-Manila or CFO-Cebu on the confirmed date at least an hour and a half before appointment and bring the complete set of required documents.
- How many day/s is the seminar?
Answer: For applicants bound for South Korea, 1 day for application / interview and 2 days for the cultural orientation. These are not on the same week.
- How long will the GCP seminar/ session be? (from CFO website)
Answer: The CFO counseling session takes a minimum of four (4) hours. It aims to provide you with adequate information regarding intermarriage and migration, the cultural and social realities abroad as well as available support networks for migrants in distress, among others.
In addition, we would like to stress that the CFO counseling program for fiancé(e)/ spouses/ partner of foreign nationals is based on the country of citizenship of the foreign national or former Filipino sponsor/petitioner. It can only accommodate 15 participants per session. We designed this small group’s session of four (4) hours to allow the participants greater interaction and more freedom to ask questions. The counselor or facilitator summarizes and synthesizes the participants’ interaction and sharing.
The final session is geared towards individual counseling where the counselor spends more time with counselee depending on the latter’s situation and may encourage submission of relevant documents (such as divorce papers, court decisions, annulment paper, certificate of no marriage, family registration, additional valid IDs, etc.) to address issues that surfaced during the counseling. This follow-up or one on one session could last for over an hour. In some cases the counselee and the counselor would agree to set another individual counseling appointment.
- Can I receive the CFO guidance counseling certificate right after attending the guidance counseling session? (from CFO website)
Answer: Provided the counselees have complied with the documentary requirements, satisfactorily underwent the counselor’s one-on-one evaluation among others, most counselees receive their counseling certificates right after the two stages of the counseling sessions. However, others might be required by her/his counselor to come in a set follow up session.
- How long should I wait for my cultural orientation schedule?
Answer: Within the month or 2. Be sure to answer the phone call from CFO.
- I already have a guidance and counseling certificate and hold a temporary/ visitor visa. Do I still need to register at the CFO and be issued a sticker? (from CFO website)
Answer: No. If you are fiancé (e)/ spouse/partner of a foreign national or a former Filipino and you hold a visitor/ tourist visa, you only need a guidance and counseling certificate from our office. Kindly present the CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate (GCC) to the port of exit and show them your temporary/ visit visa and other requirements asked by your host country.
- Should I pay for the sticker? Where to get it?
Answer: No, you don’t have to pay for it. You may get it at CFO Manila or Cebu, wherever is more convenient for you.
- I’ve been living in Korea for quite some time and planning to visit the Philippines, do I need to apply for CFO again before going out of the Philippines?
Answer: No. As long as your alien registration card (ARC) is still valid on your return date.
- I have already attended the Guidance and Counseling Program and was given a certificate. Do I need to attend the seminar again if I need to renew to my passport? (from CFO website)
Answer: Your CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate is a lifetime copy or has no validity date. You will only be required to attend another GCP session if you have changed your petitioner or sponsor meaning -spouse/ fiancé(e)/ partner.
IMPORTANT: What I experienced may not apply to every applicant but I hope you find this helpful. Thanks for reading!
If you have questions or clarifications or suggestions, feel free to leave your comment below.
CFO Manila Office
Address: Citigold Center, 1345 Pres. Quirino Avenue corner Osmeña Highway (South Superhighway) Manila, Philippines 1007
Telephone: (+632) 552-4700
Fax Number: (+632) 561-8332
Email Address: email@example.com
CFO Cebu Office
Address: 4th floor K&J Buliding, #4 Don Julio Llorente Street, Capitol Site, Cebu City
Telefax: (032) 255-5253
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and online appointment, please visit http://www.cfo.gov.ph/