two lands, one home

One bright idea day, I finally decided to process my French nationality after 6 years of France. I received my official declaration yesterday after a year & 15 days. Nothing theatrical, no officials from the French Tribunal nor an oath taking & photo op. Just me & the nice lady, in between us a glass window while we exchange valuable documents, instructing me on what to do next for my identity card. Voila, je suis française, ou plutôt devenu française par mariage (I am now french, or rather became french by marriage).

Not once did it cross my mind to be living somewhere else but my birthplace nor did I dream of spending my life with someone who comes from another land, fourteen thousand kilometers away from what I ever knew. I never imagined to have another nationality other than my own. But here I am, bounded by my choices, circumstances & opportunities, my life evolving in certain ways I didn't expect. My newly acquired nationality is significant because it is only after seven years that I feel more at home in my adoptive country.

First, Monsieur le President Sarcozy actually shoved me into doing it. He really make butts move, especially for the estranged. The 2003 Philippine Republic Act N° 9225 on retention & re-acquisition of citizenship is the icing but the cherry on top of the cake is that both countries recognize dual nationality. And that is le top for there are only a few countries* who do.

As required, it is all about integration. In paper, first I was asked bills that indicate "mr & mrs" to prove the authenticity of our marriage. Since 2003, Sarcozy attempts to minimize fraud marriages. Then I was asked to submit documents showing mine & my husband's professional activity in the past years. It will indicate your willingness & ability to obtain employment thus showing you speak the language with ease to find a job. I suppose it can somehow show that you are a taxpayer & won't be dependent of the governement's social welfare since France is very generous on that even to non-citizens. After, I was convoked by the Police Nationale for a 6 page question interview of my life as a married couple in France & to verify my oral & written French. Questions range from how we met to my educational background. From our weekend activities & associations I joined to knowing my neighbors. I was even asked to write a few words in French. To my relief, the police announced that I am well integrated. In the year of waiting, we didn't have phonecalls nor visits to my happiness.

But what does it really mean to be integrated? It is not only about speaking French or being a taxpayer & on being in harmony with your new environment. It is about the sensation of being home. In accepting the change & trying to live with it because like one travelled American* client told me, no matter how long you have lived in another country, you will always be an outsider. Like even after 20 years, I will always be la Philippine to those who know me & la Chinoise to the rest of France. I would always consider France as my second home & it will always be different from my true home. I may be French in paper & have proven integration but I will always be strange, like France will be to me. And to quote Kala* when I asked what is integration for her, "It is to recognize you are different but you still try to assimilate yourself into your host country's culture without losing yourself & without forgetting where you came from."

But the thing with being part of two nations is when I'm in France, I miss the Philippines & my old habits so bad. Then when I'm in the Philippines, I miss France in a way. Like I miss our apartment & my habits I consider still young. The irony of being in two places. But one thing is absolute - in France, like in the Philippines, there will always be something new to discover because everything changes as we grow old. People & things move. As we adjusted in our new home, we'll likewise adjust to the changes in our old home.

I have just one true home but the Philippines & France have a different sense of home to me now.
Only after 7 years.

*the website is not updated since the dual citizenship act of the Philippines have been passed in 2003
*my American client is originally from Texas, moved to New Mexico & have lived in Germany for 9 years as an Opera singer

*Kala & I processed our nationality at exactly the same time. She just received her nationality (at least by the French embassy in Qatar) a week after mine. Congratulations, frenchie sister!
*we'll then process our Filipino nationality very soon, of course!


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. "in France, like in the Philippines, there will always be something new to discover because everything changes as we grow old". I agree wholeheartedly with this one, because no matter how long we stay in a country, if we're willing to find new things to discover, we will. Like I was saying earlier, I think you really toughed it out with the integration factor, going back home only after 4 years. It's nice to be recognised and welcomed by your host country, and we're so lucky that we as Filipinos can get the double nationality. That way you're now really a child of the East and the West, hehehe. A good balance, don't you think?

    Anyway, my Frenchie sister, the next round of paperwork for us will be with the Philippine Embassy. God knows I need you there again to remind me to doublecheck all my papers and to arrange them as listed in the requirements, like you did last year (and thank you again for that, hehehe) ;-) I'm so looking forward to Paris!!! :-D

  2. "Home is where your heart is..."

    In that sense, I'd like to congratulate you not for being given the French citizenship but for finally embracing France as 'another home'...

    Congrats makis!

  3. Kala: Do you imagine the changes we'll see when we go back to Manila??? It's so amazing how things change, how they move. We sometimes see things differently as we grow old. A child of the East & West! That really sounds nice!

    I will definitely doublecheck your papers & kurot on the singit if you firget something for not being organized :D Paris in the fall!

    Thanks so much, Gina! I really appreciate your thought on my embracing France as "another home" :) Because it rally feels that way - after 7 years!

  4. hey, félicitations!!!!! now i need to get my b*tt moving, i really need to process mine too (im getting tired of being limited to the schengen countries, and im considering expatraition too so better to be french in that case). by the way, was it an official translator who worked on your papers?.. hay naku, i guess i need somebody like you too to push me on working on the papers, inaatake ako ng katamaran ko... and do you think the procedure hasnt changed yet since sarko time?

  5. Its a celebration to be able to have dual citizenship. Good for you for finally embracing this opportunity.

  6. oh dear, Mak, grabeh, you did it, sarap naman! congrats!

    I plan to have mine on the fourth year of our marriage(august 2008)
    and im preparing hard to get it.
    Baka lalong mag higpit,kaya agahan ko ang apply!
    ok na ako sa writing (by dictation) reading and even speaking french, meron kaming joint account ni lolo sa bank, sama na joint loan, haha.
    Kaya, ano pa ba?
    Pwede mo ba malagay ang requirements?
    I got a copy, pero baka old na to?
    Alam mo na si sarco, lagi may binabago...
    pero oks na balita yan, matic pala if tayo ay married sa français.

  7. Congratulations you two! It's good thing you can have dual citizenship! My parents are planning to apply for their Filipino citizenship this year after relinquishing it almost 30 years ago.

    Congrats again Makis & Kala!

  8. Thanks, Apol!

    Do it, do it na, Ana!!! The more you wait the more you won't do it :) You have to grab the golden opportunity now that both countries recognize dual citizenship.

    Yes, it's an official translator who worked on our papers. The tribunal (or the prefecture?) gave us a list of official translators. I'm not sure if the procedure has changed or will change because it's really a case to case basis. You can get your requirements by calling your town's tribunal, you'll have a small interview & they will send it to you by mail ;) I'll bombard you with YM if you need a kick in the butt!

    So true, Leah! I just realized the beauty of the dual citizenship when I was writing this post :) And I agree with Gina when she says it's really all about having "another home." Thanks, Leah!

    Yes, Francesca, start inquiring na! You have to check the law that was passed on 2004 for your nationality kasi the new laws after the year of your marriage will not apply to you - at least that's what I understood ha! Kasi we were married, yung requirement was only 1 year uninterupted stay in France. In 2004, parang 4 years ata kaya you have to check.

    For the requirements, like I told Ana, is a case to case basis. Tawag ka sa tribunal niyo on nationality, konting interview (where were the parents of your husband born, etc), tapos papadala nila yung list by mail. AND! The French nationality by marriage is not automatic! France does not oblige you to get it & that is why you apply for it - it is a choice. Let me know if you have more questions ha :)

    Thanks, Lu!!! Wow, that's great for your parents, after 30 years! How aout you on your Filipino citizenship :)

  9. ouch! hehe. in fact, i have the list of requirements and the list of official translators from the prefecture, the company is even willing to pay for the translation expenses if i want to.. the only lacking doc before was the doc on casier judicaire or something to that effect which i translated to NBI clearance.. i got that paper last december.. so i have no more reasons left now.. but i guess i'll wait after september na lang, the whole of france is on vacation di ba ;).. so start bombarding me after sept hehe.

  10. ty Mak,and korek ka, di nga automatic, pero may possibilities, sabi dito sa web:
    i qoute ko lang ha?

    Le mariage n'exerce pas d'effet automatique sur la nationalité.

    Une personne étrangère qui épouse un(e) français(e) ne peut acquérir la nationalité française que si elle remplit certaines conditions.

    La procédure est celle de la déclaration.

    Conditions à remplir

    Le conjoint étranger ou apatride (sans nationalité) d'un Français peut, après un délai de 4 ans à compter du mariage, acquérir la nationalité française par déclaration, à condition qu'à la date de cette déclaration :

    la communauté de vie tant affective que matérielle n'ait pas cessé entre les époux depuis le mariage,

    et que le conjoint français ait conservé sa nationalité.

    Le délai de communauté de vie est porté à 5 ans lorsque le conjoint étranger, au moment de la déclaration :

    soit ne justifie pas avoir résidé de manière ininterrompue et régulière pendant au moins 3 ans en France à compter du mariage,

    soit n'apporte pas la preuve que son conjoint français a été inscrit pendant la durée de leur communauté de vie à l'étranger au registre des Français établis hors de France.

    Le mariage célébré à l'étranger doit avoir fait l'objet d'une transcription préalable sur les registres de l'état civil français.

    Le conjoint étranger doit également justifier d'une connaissance suffisante, selon sa condition, de la langue française.

    YUN NA!
    sufficient knowlegde of french language pa rin, waaahhhh!

  11. Ganon, Ana, you just have the NBI clearance to complete your requirements last year??? Sayang naman! Btw, you have to make sure that after you receive all your documents from the Philippines, you have 3 months, from date of issue (+ the translation), to submit them to the tribunal (validité 3 mois). Sige, I'll start bombarding first with reminders before September :D

    Yep, Francesca, there's still a freedom of choice ;-) And those are general conditions & requirements. You still have to call your tribunal for your list of requirements ha :) Eh oui, il faut parler en français et c'est logique, hein? Thanks for the qoute!

  12. CONGRATULATIONS MAKIS!!! Yes we will always be a stranger from head to foot, with or without accent, no-blond hair and having a slanting chinese eyes but that's how we stand out & proud to be a Filipino ;) ! Being a non-origin of french species is a never ending adjustment it's just a matter of digesting the experiences, events, understanding of cultures and how we put up a good ambiance around us. Integration and adjustment
    will happen along a gradual slope!

    Somehow France is our adopted country and I totally agree I also have the feeling that when I'm in Pinas I miss France! Go for dual nationality ;) !

  13. I agree with you 100%, Haze! France will always be strange to us & the discoveries will never end :) Come with us for the Philippine nationality!