My personal experience teaches me that, whenever possible, it is cheaper and easier to marry a Filipina in a Western country than it is to marry her in the Philippines.
The only instance in which your only option is to marry a Filipina in the Philippines is when she lives in the Philippines and there is no legal way to get her to a Western country.
If she lives in the Philippines and she doesn’t meet the requirements to get an entry visa to a Western country or she was a clandestine immigrant in your country and she got caught by the police and expelled, and therefore it is very unlikely to get her to return to your country in a legal way, your only option is to marry her in the Philippines.
Yet, based on my experience (both with the Italian and the Filipino bureaucracy) I’d say that the option to marry a Filipina in the Philippines can be complicated and, obviously, more expensive so, whenever possible it is much easier, if one has the chance to do so, to get legally married in a Western country and this can generally be done by either marrying one who already lives in the West (legally or illegally) or by finding the way to help her get a fiance or a tourist visa.
If a Filipina does live in a Western country as a clandestine immigrant, generally speaking it is not a problem to marry her.
Let’s say that undocumented Filipinos here in Italy (and Filipinos in general) are not viewed as a threat so it is highly unlikely that they get expelled, let alone physically deported (I mean put on a plane at the expenses of the government that can barely afford to deport those who pose a real threat).
Here in Italy marrying an undocumented Filipina is very easy and the authorities never ask an illegal foreigner to show her permit to stay in the country while going through the legal process of marrying a local citizen. All they need is their passport, their birth certificate and the certificate of singleness and that’s it, no one will ever impede the marriage if a Filipina is an illegal immigrant (which happens very rarely by the way here in Italy as most Filipino workers do have a permit to stay).
What about helping her to get an entry visa to your country to marry her where you are and avoid the hassle of going through the Filipino bureaucracy?
As far as I know, US citizens can bring their Filipino fiance to the US by means of a fiance visa but here in the E.U. this is apparently not possible.
As far as I know this kind of visa expires after 90 days which, I guess, is too short a period of time to get to know a Filipina properly, given all the things that a Westerner needs to weigh, like the relationship with the extended family, the fact that her relatives might need financial support, having or not having children and so on.
What’s possible here in the E.U., at least theoretically because European embassies are very strict when it comes to issuing Shengen visas, is to apply for a tourist visa, but that would also only be valid for 90 days.
So, getting a Filipina to a Western country either through a fiance visa or a tourist one to eventually marry her in a your country is the easiest way to avoid extra bureaucratic issues but it doesn’t give you much time to get to know her properly.
You can of course visit the Philippines multiple times as a tourist and go there back and forth multiple times, if you are retired or otherwise have no work obligations and have the money to do so, and that would, of course, give you more time to evaluate whether to marry her or not but for common mortals who need to work and cannot take much vacation time this can be hard.
If a Filipina was expelled from a Western country or there is otherwise no legal way to get her to come to a Western country to get married, the option to marry a Filipina in the Philippines is the only one available.
As I’ve said earlier, marrying my wife here in Italy proved to be a very easy, cheap and straightforward process.
Marrying her in the Philippines would have been way more complicated for me.
The main reason, at least based on my personal experience, why it can be very difficult (or even impossible in some cases) to marry a Filipina in the Philippines is because the Philippine Government requires all foreigners to provide a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from the embassy of the country where you come from and in some countries (like mine) this certificate is not easy to get.
This certification affirms that there are no legal impediments to the foreigner marrying a Filipino.
I have read somewhere that the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines provides U.S. citizens the opportunity to sign an “Affidavit In Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage,” a self-certification that the U.S. citizen is free to marry in the Philippines.
The Italian Embassy does not provide the opportunity to sign said affidavit and, as a result, an Italian who goes to the Philippines to marry a Filipina in the Philippines has to get there already having that certificate.
The big problem is that very few government officials here in Italy know that this kind of certificate even exists.
After having been told by the Italian Embassy in Manila that, if I wanted to get married in the Philippines (an option that I was considering at that time), I had to produce the Certificate of Legal Capacity, I went to the local town hall asking for the certificate and they said “what is that? We have never heard of that!”.
I called back the Italian Embassy explaining the situation but they insisted that there would have been no way for me to get married in the Philippines without that certificate.
I went to the town hall multiple times and I even, eventually, bumped into an official who admitted that he had heard about that document but his colleague (the one in charge) just didn’t want to help, she maintained that they have never issued that kind of certificate, they knew nothing about it and therefore there was nothing she was willing to do to help.
So, the bottom line is that I had to discount the possibility to go to the Philippines to marry a Filipina, namely my wife. I could have hired a lawyer and eventually found the way to get that certificate but that seemed to be too much of a hassle.
I did everything in Italy and it cost me nothing, the legal process was fast and smooth and I didn’t have to produce any “Certificate of Legal Capacity”, just my passport, birth certificate and few other things.
So, if you choose to marry a Filipina in the Philippines because there is no other legal way to do it in your country, before getting too emotionally involved, make sure that your country’s bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way and that you can easily get all the papers that the government of the Philippines requires.
Also make sure that, if she was previously married, her previous marriage was legally annulled (there is no divorce in the Philippines, there is only the possibility to annul the marriage).
So, before exploring the possibility to marry a Filipina in the Philippines, consider first (in my opinion and based on my personal experience as an Italian) if there is a possibility to avoid going through all the complicated bureaucracy and get her to your country and marry her there and only, as a last resort, do it in the Philippines.
Getting married in Italy was no-cost and easy for me.
Of course I don’t know the bureaucracy of each Western country so you’ll have to find out for yourself depending on where you live.
Marrying a Filipina is already a challenging experience, it can turn out to be an amazing relationship but there are many cultural challenges that are going to arise, so I recommend avoiding unnecessary legal complications if possible.