Contributed by Vinz Ideas
I don’t usually write and post rants or any negative issues but this one deserves a special space here.
My companions and I booked our tickets three months before our trip to Malaysia and Singapore because we really waited for the seat sale of Cebu Pacific Airlines to save money. We also booked our hostel accommodations in Malaysia and Singapore online and planned out our itinerary well prior to the trip. We were all set and just excited for our trip.
The night before our flight, I printed out our tickets, itinerary, and photocopied of our IDs and other documents just in case the immigration authorities will look for some supporting documents.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3: The Big Day
Passengers are advised to be there 3 hours before their flight, which we did to have ample time should any problem arise. We had a smooth transaction at the check-in and travel tax counters. Although I had some excess baggage aside from the allowed 7 kilos hand carry bag, I didn’t need to pay for it because we were four passengers and we’re allowed a total of 28 kilos, and fortunately, our bags only weighed a combined 26 kilos.
At around 12pm, we lined up at the immigration counter for the interview and stamping of passport. First in line was a friend of mine who smoothly passed the Bureau of Immigration interview after being asked some questions and showing her supporting documents.
When it was my turn, the immigration officer looked for my company ID which I gave right away. Next, I showed him my Certificate of Employment after he asked me to prove I was still working under my current employer. He also inquired about my salary as an SEO Specialist, which I answered honestly. Afterwards, he asked me about my credit cards and HMO cards. Then, he looked at my itinerary (plane ticket) again and asked about the booking date. I said May 15 and confirmed it with my friend who was waiting for us behind the immigration officer.
The officer called my friend again and looked at their itinerary. He proceeded to ask my friend why my name wasn’t included in the itinerary. My friend explained that I was booked separately because she was trying to catch the limited seat sale when she was booking our flight; as I was unable to reply to her right away about my personal details, she decided to book herself and our companions ahead. Later on that same day, she booked me a ticket separately after I responded with my information.
This should not have been a big issue because I had all the required documents and round-trip tickets, and it was very clear that it was just a week-long vacation. But without any explanation, the immigration officer brought me to the holding area where there were more than thirty passengers queuing for the second immigration interview. By this time, I just kept calm because I didn’t want to entertain any negativity in my mind.
The Second Immigration Interview
It was already 12 noon and I was still in the long queue, so I went to my friends who smoothly passed the immigration officer. I told them to just leave me because it’s already boarding time and they might miss their flight as well. I told them I’ll just re-book my ticket and follow them to Kuala Lumpur if I pass the second immigration interview. They left me, but I was able to manage my anger and kept the positivity. While in the line, I just talked to other passengers and made friends. I also thought of going somewhere like Cebu, Bicol or Palawan if I was denied by the Philippines Bureau of Immigration.
At around 2.30pm, my turn finally came. The second immigration officer just asked the same questions the first immigration officer asked, and then allowed me to re-book my ticket. I was still smiling, but this time I was full of anger inside because it made no sense for them to hold me when in the first place it should have been resolved with the first immigration officer. This resulted in me having to miss my original flight and re-book an expensive ticket to Kuala Lumpur that amounted to ₱4,950, plus ₱900 for the extra baggage. But I’m still thankful that I was able to fly late that night after so many hassles that I experienced in the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.
Will I travel again outside the Philippines?
Yes, of course! The road is my only home and travel is my first love. If anything bad happens, I always treat it as a great experience. I know I learned something from this horrible experience.