Pinoys flock to Nova Scotia for consular mission
HALIFAX - Crisaldo Azarias drove three hours from Antigonish just to attend the consular outreach mission of the Philippine embassy in Halifax recently.
A native of Laguna, Azarias has been working as a cook in Canada for three years. He is applying for passport renewal.
"Kahit malayo ang biniyahe namin, hindi na kami nag dalawang-isip pa para pumunta dito at mag renew kasi mas nakatipid kami," said Azarias.
Renewing a passport requires physical appearance at the nearest consulate office for biometric capture. This is not an easy task for kababayans especially those in maritime provinces like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
The closest embassy is in Ottawa, a 14-hour drive or about two hours by plane.
Ricky Mojica holds a work permit and has been in Canada for five years. He is now eligible to apply for permanent residence but he needs clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Mojica said that while getting an NBI clearance maybe cheaper compared to passport renewals, it's more complicated.
"Mas komportable yung pupunta ka na lang dito kagaya naming three hours away so mas madali pa din. One day matatapos mo lahat," Mojica said.
Nova Scotia is now home to a growing Filipino community of mostly skilled workers.
In 2009, community leaders wrote a letter to the Philippine Embassy about the many Filipinos here with consular needs but with limited capacity to travel.
"Ang dami kasing mga kababayan natin, lalo na yung bago, mga skilled workers, live-in caregivers, mga health workers natin na mga nurses na baguhan sa Canada specifically sa Nova Scotia, himihingi sila ng tulong para makalapit sila sa embahada dahil sa pag-renew ng passport," said Elizabeth Eustaquio-Domondon.
Domondon's appeal was granted. She has been coordinating with community leaders from New Brunswick, PEI, and Annapolis Royale on the conduct of consular outreach missions every year.
"Ang laki ng natitipid nila kasi kung pupunta sila sa Pasuguan sa Ottawa ang pamasahe nila hindi bababa sa $600 yan, tapos mag ho-hotel pa sila, mamamasahe sila, kakain sila. So yun ang ginagawa namin na serbisyo bilang konsiderasyon sa naitutulong ng ating mga manggagawa dito sa bansa natin sa Pilipinas nagpapadala sila ng mga remittances," said First Secretary and Consul for Nova Scotia, Porfirio Mayo.
The embassy also announced the opening of the first Philippine Honorary Consular Office in Nova Scotia with the appointment of Domondon as honorary vice consul.