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Unlike other guys his age, Rey was never attracted to the promise of “greener pastures” in the United States.

He loved the laid back feel in the city of pines and he intends to stay after graduating from college. He has simple dreams of settling down in Baguio, to teach at the university where he is now majoring in Education, and regularly play with the acoustic band he formed a couple of years ago. He was looking forward to a quiet and uncomplicated adult life, a far cry from the one he had growing up in San Andres Bukid in Manila.

But as luck would have it, Rey’s long – time girlfriend, Beth, got pregnant a few months before they were set to graduate. When their parents found out, they were told to get married right away to “save face”; it was the classic “what will people say?” dilemma.

So in a haste, they processed all the necessary documents like birth certificates, certificate of singleness (CENOMAR), and secured a marriage license. Rey and Beth were married in Catholic rites at the St. Joseph Church in Pacdal, Baguio City. In less than seven months, Beth gave birth to a healthy baby boy they named Joshua.

A few months after giving birth, Beth, a natural born U.S. citizen, broached the idea of settling in the United States as soon as Joshua is big enough to be flown out of the country. Apparently, Beth was in the Philippines only to gain a college degree as this could be pretty expensive in the U.S. Her plan was to go back to the U.S. right after graduation; she was set to join her uncle’s software firm in Texas. Now that she is married with a child, she wanted to pursue her plans, with husband and baby in tow.

Beth’s suggestion did not sit well with Rey. He had his own dreams of settling down in Baguio and living the “simple, country life”. No one was ever going to uproot him from Baguio; not his young, idealistic wife and no, not even the promise of “greener pastures” in America.

It did not take long for the couple to decide on their fate. Beth will fly back to the U.S. with baby Joshua while Rey stays behind. They will try to raise their family apart and see if it will work. If not, Beth will file for a divorce so both of them would be free to pursue their separate lives.

Rey’s siblings were shocked to find out about his decision. While some would pay for a U.S. citizen to marry them so they can be granted a visa to legally stay and work in the U.S., Rey was practically giving his away. How could he?

Beth and Joshua left for Texas two days after Joshua turned one. Rey was devastated. There were days when he would ask himself if he made the right decision. He would spend hundreds of pesos on phone cards just to hear his son’s blabber from thousands of miles away. He thought he would never survive.

He saved up enough to buy a two-way plane ticket to be with Joshua on his second birthday. His son barely recognized him; Joshua kept crying for his mom when Rey tried to hug and kiss him for the first time in a year.

Rey’s visit helped him and Beth sort things out between the two of them. They both decided that the best way to get on with their lives and pursue their dreams is to go their separate ways. Beth promised Rey that he is free to visit Joshua anytime and that she would make sure to take their child on regular vacations to the Philippines so he could get to know Rey’s side of the family. Beth filed for divorce and had all papers signed by Rey before he left for the Philippines. Beth’s lawyer also requested Rey to sign documents to permit Joshua to travel alone with his Mom as his sole guardian in the U.S. Rey received the divorce papers eight months later.

Fast forward to fifteen years later, Rey met and fell in love with a fellow professor, Mia. Two years into their relationship, Rey proposed and asked for Mia’s hand in marriage. At first, they thought that Rey still needed to file for an annulment of his and Beth’s marriage in the Philippines in order to marry Mia. Their friends told them that Rey’s divorce in the U.S. is not recognized in the Philippines.

But Rey’s lawyer advised him of Article 26 of the Family Code; he only needed to file his divorce papers at the Regional Trial Court in Baguio City (where he resides) in order to get his PSA Marriage Certificate annotated properly. Turns out, he only needed to obtain a Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce Decree from a Philippine court in order to marry Mia. He did just that and in a few months, happily tied the knot in a civil wedding ceremony in Baguio City.

Rey and Mia have been married for three years now and are expecting their first baby. Joshua, Rey’s son by his first marriage, just recently turned 16 and will be traveling to the Philippines to visit his dad and hopefully, to meet his new baby sister. He is also planning to stay in the Philippines and study in the same university where his parents met 16 years ago.