The nearest Filipino consulates are Miami or Atlanta, but for many families making the trip is just not possible.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some organizations are calling for a Filipino Consulate to be built in the city of Jacksonville to service the thousands of American-Filipino residents in our community.
The City of Jacksonville has of the largest Filipino communities in the state of Florida. There are about 33,000 Filipino-Americans on the First Coast, with more than 24,000 in Duval County alone.
Gabrial Marion moved to Jacksonville from the Philippines in 2017 to be with family and to work. But he hasn’t been able to travel back home since because his paperwork needs to be renewed.
“I like to visit in the Philippines this last September, but the passport expired and I do not know what to do,” said Marion, who moved to Jacksonville in 2017.
Without a passport renewal, Marion can’t see his three sons, his daughter or his grandchildren.
To get the paperwork he would have to travel to the nearest Filipino consulate in Miami or Atlanta. Ligaya Kirkland, Filipino Chamber of Commerce member says for many families that’s just not possible.
“This is really an urgent situation because there’s so many Filipinos who want to renew their passport,” said Kirkland. “They need it right away, and not everybody has the means to go to DC or Miami.”
A Filipino consulate provides passports, traveling documents, medical records and other official documentation.
Kirkland along with other organizations like Coral Ridge Ministries and We Filipinos Inc, are asking local leaders to work together to bring a Filipino Consulate to Jacksonville.
“My family, my wife’s from the Philippines. My Grandparents, her parents are incredible, they’re involved in church ministries. Which means we have people show up here… They come to the church here do Flag ceremonies but they need that respect and they need a consulate here very badly,” said Jeff Bursed, Chaplin Coral Ridge Ministries.