MANILA, Philippines – If you’re getting a visa at the US Embassy in Manila, there’s a chance you might see Consular Officer Dustin Bradshaw. Just don’t be surprised when he starts talking to you in Tagalog or Filipino.
Bradshaw said he studied Tagalog at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington DC for 4 months before he was assigned to the US Embassy. He said he and his wife have been in Manila for a year.
“Ang sabi nila hard language Tagalog pero pinilit ko kasi gusto ko kakausap sa mga tao sa akin, sa mga tao gusto nila malaman din gusto ko kakausap sa wika nila. Lalo na sa embassy, medyo nervous ang mga tao, hindi nila alam gagawin nila. So para sa iyong pakikisama, gagamitin mo wika nila,” he said in a radio dzMM interview with Anthony Taberna and Gerry Baja.
Bradshaw said he tried to practice his Tagalog skills before coming to the Philippines but discovered that some Filipinos in the US are not very fluent in speaking the language.
“Medyo mahirap kasi pag lumaki sila sa United States. Medyo mahina ang Tagalog nila. Ilocano din e. Hindi ako marunong ng Ilocano. Mahirap,” he said.
To show off his Tagalog skills, Bradshaw even translated the latest rainfall alert from state weather bureau PAGASA.
Why visas get denied
At the Embassy, Bradshaw said he usually handles “problematic” visa applications. He is also helping to explain the upcoming US elections on November 6.
Bradshaw denied that the US Embassy rejects up to 80% of tourist visa applications daily because of an alleged quota. He said the opposite is true: out of 1,200-1,500 applications daily, the Embassy approves about 1,000.
He also said there is not one single reason why people’s visa applications are rejected.
“Hindi totoo kung ako yung officer at ikaw yung aplikante, nakita ko itim ang jacket mo, ayoko. Bagsak agad. O matanda siya, bagsak agad. Hindi totoo. Ang gusto namin sa aming mga officers ay malaman yung totoohan. Yung kwento mo lahat. Yung kalagayan. Gusto namin makita magkano yung sweldo, may asawa, ganyan. Whatever it is, gusto namin malaman yung totoohan. That’s it. And then malalaman kung ma-qualify o di ma-qualify,” he said.
Bradshaw said applicants can check the US Embassy website and blog to check out some of the questions asked during the interviews.
He said Filipinos can also ask for a translator if they feel uncomfortable about answering in English. He said what is important is that the officer knows the truth about the applicant and that there is no “immigrant intent.”
“Kung hindi komportableng mag-English, pwedeng sabihin ‘Pwede bang ilagay interpreter dito?’ Pwede. Pwede kasi may mga Ilonggo, Cebuano. Hindi totoo (na deny ka kung hindi marunong mag Tagalog). Maraming kamag-anak duon,” he said.
“Hindi lang one thing. It’s yung ties talaga. Economic, social, whatever. Gusto naming malaman ano ang kalagayan sa buhay mo and then pwede i-interpret ayon sa batas natin,” he added.
He also denied that there are fixers that can ensure that a visa application will be approved.
“Wala. Bawal yun. Hindi kailangan. Kung sinabi mo yung totoo at ayos yung mga papel, ok naman, then the officer can give you a fair interview,” he said.
Radio dzMM, October 25, 2012