Philippine Embassy staff help locals with legal documents in N. Charleston

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Staff members from the Philippine Embassy in the nation’s capital made a weekend stop in the Lowcountry to help people get their passports renewed and more.

The Philippine Embassy’s staffers stopped at the Filipino Community Center in North Charleston this weekend bringing multiple services to the Lowcountry. People could renew their passports, reacquire their Philippine citizenship and register for overseas voting.

“For some of them, they find it difficult to go to DC to renew their passports,” Philippine Embassy Consul General Iric Arribas said. “That’s why we come to places which are far from D.C., so we can serve the Filipinos who are here.”

Filipino Community Center President Roger Viduya said there are about 12,000 Filipinos who live in the Lowcountry who are mainly residing in Goose Creek.

“If you’re an American citizen, and if you want to have a vacation inside the Philippines, you could only stay there for 30 days,” Viduya said. “Instead of doing that, they offer us the opportunity to become a dual citizenship.”

Some people recited their pledge to their home nation to become citizens once again as part of an oath-taking ceremony.

“If they have already acquired Filipino citizenship, then they also acquire their right to vote when we have the national elections,” Arribas said.

Those voting rights work similarly to absentee ballots. For locals, the outreach mission shows that their home country is still thinking about them.

“It’s nice for the government of the Philippines to recognize all of those Filipinos all over the world, you know, doesn’t matter what part of the world,” Viduya said.

Throughout the weekend, officials said they helped out more than 300 people with their documents.

This is the first time embassy staff has been in the area since 2019, but there’s no word on when their next trip will be.