No doubt, our passports are now just as important as our money when travelling overseas. We may have a perfectly crafted itinerary, a pre-approved visa and that hard-earned work leave, but without this one critical document, we’re basically powerless. But that’s something we’ll probably realise once we personally experience losing or damaging it in some way — just like these Filipino travellers!
1. Blame that officer!
“I got held up in Immigration only to find out it was a mistake since the officer did not check my stamps and visas. The worst part is I missed my flight and rebooked it for the following day which messed up my whole itinerary. Goodbye hotels and bus bookings for cross-country.”
2. Ang bango-bango!
“Natapunan ng pabango passport ko a week before ng alis. So, naisip ko na kunwari kakatapon lang, inisprayan ko ulit. Pagbuklat sa Immigration mega tanong. Sabi ko ‘Kakatapon lang ayan pa nga oh fresh pa’. Inamoy-amoy ng officer. ‘Oo nga’. So lusot. [My passport got drenched in perfume a week before my departure. To make it look like it just happened, I sprayed it again. I was asked a lot of questions when it was flipped open in Immigration. I told them the incident was still fresh so the officer ended up smelling it and concurred. I got through.]”
3. Nang dahil sa isang pahina
“Yung natanggalan ng page na hindi mo alam tapos nandoon ka na sa airport at magche-check in. Pero hindi ka pala makakaalis because of that. [That time your passport lost a page without you knowing it and you’re already in the airport about to check in, and you couldn’t leave because of that.]”
4. Wait, amag?!
“Yung napatong ko sa basang damit tapos hindi ko ‘yon napansin nang two days kasi hindi pa kasi ako maglalaba. Ayun parang inamag pero okay lang naman na. [That time I placed it on top of my wet clothes and didn’t notice it for two days since I didn’t have plans of doing laundry yet. It ended up getting mouldy, but it’s okay now.]”
5. Just in time!
“First passport ko [which I applied for] via an agency 13 years ago. The day of the release of my passport, na-hold up or na-snatch ‘yung bag ng liaison officer containing all newly released passports. So we had to process again kasi magbi-business trip ako. We had to submit a police report about my passport. The day na mag-aapply ako ng visa sa Japan Embassy, that day rin binigay sa akin ang passport ko, sa harap mismo ng Embassy habang nakapila ako. Personal pa ang pag-apply ng Japan Visa that time. [It was my first passport which I applied for via an agency 13 years ago. The day of the release of my passport, the liaison officer’s bag containing all newly released passports got snatched. We had to process again because I was going on a business trip. We had to submit a police report about my passport. The day I was applying for a visa at the Japanese Embassy was the same day I got my new passport while queueing in front of the Embassy. Japan Visa applications were done personally at that time.]”
6. Maganda na ‘ko, kuya!
My old passport picture makes me look like as if I’m a man, as in super short hair. Now my picture is super feminine. The delivery boy can’t believe that it’s the same person. I blurted out ‘Kuya maniwala ka na. Dati akong gwapo, ngayon maganda na ‘ko’! [I blurted out ‘Kuya believe me! I was handsome before, but now I’m beautiful!’]”
7. Excited much?
“Nag-day tour kami sa Malaysia from our trip to Brunei. Akala ng Immigration Officer nagpapa-extend ako ng visa. Ayun, they checked magkano na lang pera ko tapos noong tinatakan passport ko, sinulat talaga that I will exit Brunei the next day. [We went on a day tour to Malaysia from Brunei. The Immigration Officer thought that I was asking for visa extension. He ended up checking how much money I had left then when my passport was stamped, it was indicated that I would exit Brunei the next day.]”
8. Bakit may butas!!!
“Noong nag-apply ako ng Chinese Visa, noong binalik [passport ko], nabutas ‘yung biopage ko ng paper clip. Kinabahan ako baka hindi tanggapin kahit super liit na butas lang ganoon! [When I applied for a Chinese Visa, my passport’s biopage got a hole from the paper clip when it was returned to me. I panicked thinking it would be invalidated despite the hole being so small!]”
9. Never lose it!
“When I lost my passport once and braved all the hassles and challenges of getting a replacement. Smart tip: Keep an eye on your passport, never lose it.”
10. Buti na lang nagbanyo!
“Papunta akong Taiwan together with family. Sumakay kami ng SM MyBus patungong airport. Inilagay ko ang passport ko sa backpack ko na pinatong ko muna pansamantala sa lalagyan. Noong nandoon na kami sa airport upang magcheck in, namalayan ko na ang backpack ko naiwan pala sa bus! Para akong si Flash na tinakbo ang bus sa labas! Buti na lang, nagbawas sa CR ang bus driver at naabutan ko pa sa labas ng airport. [I was headed to Taiwan with my family. We rode an SM MyBus to the airport. I placed my passport on top of my backpack which I temporarily put aside. When we arrived at the airport to check in, I realised I left my backpack in the bus! I was like Flash running to the bus outside! Thankfully, the bus driver went to the CR so I was able to catch him at the airport.]”
11. Ako ‘yan promise!
“Immigration Officers ALWAYS, aka ALL THE TIME, do double takes while looking at my passport photo. They usually comment things like ‘Sorry but you look different’ or ‘Is this you?’. Sorry na, wala pa po kasi akong pambili ng pagkain noon, ngayon po meron na. [Sorry, I may have looked like I couldn’t afford buying food before, but now I do.]
12. Thankfully naman!
“Nag-CR ako sa Nami Island in Korea tapos mga 30 minutes na kami naglalakad at pics, I realized naiwan ‘yung bag ko sa CR with my passport and wallet. I panicked, went back to get it. Grabe takbo ko. Thank God it was still there. [I went to a CR in Nami Island, Korea then strolled around and took pictures for 30 minutes, then I realised I left my bag with my passport and wallet in the CR. I panicked and went back to get it. I ran as fast as I could. Thank God it was still there.]”
13. Always check the validity!
When I went to Oz and my passport was valid for slightly less than six months (mga five months and several days ganoon) so the Immigration Officer had to ask around if valid pa raw. Deep inside I was like ‘Noooooooo!!! This can’t be happening’. Take note the Embassy gave me a visa knowing the expiry of my passport. So ang ending, okay lang basta more than three months if papuntang Australia. Most countries is six months validity talaga. [When I went to Oz and my passport was valid for slightly less than six months (something like five months and several days), so the Immigration Officer had to ask around if it was still valid. Deep inside I was like ‘Noooooooo!!! This can’t be happening’. Take note the Embassy gave me a visa knowing the expiry of my passport. In the end, it was okay as long as it’s more than three months in the case of Australia. In most countries, the validity is strictly six months.]”
14. Bakit ako?!
Seoul, SK ang first foreign country na napuntahan ko. Family kaming nagpunta plus my sister. Nang nasa Immigration na kami sa airport sa Incheon, lahat sila mabilis lang no questions asked. When it was my turn, ang tagal-tagal ko. Paulit-ulit na tiningnan nung Immigration Officer ‘yung passport ko. Then, pinatransfer pa ako sa ibang Immigration Officer. Namumutla na ako that time kasi baka bigla akong pabalikin ng Philippines mag-isa. Kasi lahat ng kasama ko tapos na ako na lang ang hinihintay nila. After 20 minutes, tinatakan na rin passport ko, pinapasok na rin ako. Naalala ko, ‘yung picture ko sa passport ay short ang hair ko. Pero noong time na pumunta ako ng Korea, longer yung hair ko kaysa doon sa picture sa passport. Kaya noong mga sumunod na punta ko sa Korea, maiksi na hair ko para hindi na maulit yung nangyari noong una. [Seoul, South Korea was my first foreign destination. I was with my family, plus my sister. When we were in the Immigration at Incheon Airport, everyone else passed through quickly, no questions asked. When it was my turn, I took a long time. The Immigration Officer kept on looking at my passport. Then I was transferred to a different Immigration Officer. I was turning pale at that time because I was afraid that I might get sent back to the Philippines alone. All the others were finished and they were just waiting for me. After 20 minutes, they finally stamped my passport and I was able to pass through. I remembered that my passport picture had me with short hair. But on that trip to Korea, I had longer hair. That’s why on my succeeding visits to Korea, I made sure I had short hair to prevent the same situation from happening again.]”
15. No to torn passports!
“Nakakatakot every time inaalis at binabalik ko passport cover ko kasi baka mapunit ‘yung passport. [I get scared every time people remove and put my passport cover back on because my passport might get torn.] But I always use one so that it’s easier to spot in my bag or for if it gets lost.
More than an entertainment, these real stories should serve as a reminder for us to be even more careful when handling our passports. How about you? Have you ever experienced your own ‘passport scare’ from your past travels?
These quotes have been edited for grammar, clarity and flow.