The Agony of Surrender

When I moved to Berlin in 2017, the intention was never to remain here on a long-term basis. Once I set up my home, however, and things began to happen, I thought I might as well linger a little longer, give it a shot and see where the road takes me. I will spare you the gory details, but to make a long story short, I applied for German citizenship in May of 2019, with the prospect of being over and done with it by November. I passed the citizenship test with flying colours in August, had the interview, and was told that there was technically nothing more to stand in my way. How does the old saying go? Never assume, less you make an ass out of u and me.

Well, my file got unceremoniously victimised by the Immigration Office and City Hall, in a tedious bureaucratic pingpong. November 2019 came and went and there was not a peep to be heard from either authority. Then I was told that both offices were running on a skeletal force because half of the employees had caught the flu. A few weeks later, everything shut down for the Christmas holidays and here in Berlin, the winter holidays in January 2020. Just when I got my hopes up for things to get moving again in February, the Corona Virus came to town and #lockdown2020 ensued.

All government offices in Berlin only returned to business on June 25, 2020. Yes, over a year after I had officially submitted my application. It pains me to read the forums where people share their glowing experiences of only having to wait four months! Ugh. Nevertheless, I did not lose hope and continued to pray for the best.

Ah, but when the bureaucrats returned to work, my file had been passed on to yet another person (I stopped counting after the fifth one), who began requesting another stack of documents (some of which I had already submitted at least twice), including written proof of my stay in Kenya. Kenya?! I was completely flabbergasted and livid. We are talking about a period between 1970 – 74, when I was three years old, attended kindergarten only half of that time, and I had no clue whether that particular school kept records going that far back. What the bleeping bamboozling bejeezers does my life in Kenya as a three-year-old have anything to do with my German citizenship in 2020? Daddy died in 2016 and with him his employment records or any other proof that we were posted in Kenya by his employer back then. At this point I began to suspect that COVID 19 affects bureaucratic brain cells in a manner that cannot be quantified nor qualified.

Lo and behold, earlier this week I received an email from my equally befuddled and frustrated lawyer, that we finally got the approval and confirmation of my citizenship (Zusicherung)! There is just one final step in the process. I need to take this letter of confirmation to the Philippine Embassy and request a release from my Philippine citizenship (Entlassung). I gulped. This was really happening. At this point, some of you may be asking, can’t you have dual citizenship? From the German legal perspective, no. Dual citizenship is only granted to those of mixed parentage, where at the time of birth the person can prove that one parent was a German citizen and the other a Filipino citizen. My daughter, for example, has dual citizenship. But for naturalised German citizens, dual citizenship is out of the question.

When I went on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Berlin to download the forms for the Entlassung, my heart broke and I could not help but cry. The official and legal translation of this form is not a release but a renunciation (Verzicht) of Filipino citizenship. That really hit home. If the word had been surrender, it would not have been so painful, but a renunciation carries the permanence and finality that is irrevocable, and this is something I struggle with. It feels as though my identity for the past 53 years is about to vanish.

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