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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Experience with the Philippine Immigration

After I waved goodbye to my wife and kid,  tears fell and my world moved slowly.  The entrance gate of the Philippine Airlines was in front of me. I said to myself, "This is it, there's no turning back!". I'll sacrifice to leave my country, my wife and my kid for the sake of finding better opportunities in Singapore, which my home can not provide.

I laid down my backpack and my trolley-bag for the x-ray machine inspection. Went in to the metal detection frame and the officer gave me a thumbs up to proceed.  The airport lobby is wide with an overwhelming ceiling and glass walls.  I saw the Customer Service and the check-in counters at my right.

It was time for me to check-in my luggage and so I headed to the counter.  The counter personnel asked me for my passport and my e-ticket.  Unfortunately, she asked me to pay the travel tax first, which I don't have.

How much is the Travel Tax and Terminal Fee?
I went to the Customer Service and paid my travel tax worth P1,620.00.  They issued a government receipt, which is a reminder that it is for the government and for the people.  So, I'm giving my money for those who were left behind. Oh well!

Anyway, I brought along with me the receipt and proceed to the check in counter.  Then headed to pay my terminal fee P750.00 at the Terminal counter, another payables but this time it's for the terminal.  In fairness, the terminal is well maintained, so no doubts about it.

My heart still pounding fast and started to beat twice stronger when I was then going to the immigration officers.  This process of my journey to Singapore is the WORST!

Why I called it the Worst?
I prepared my documents to hand it over to the immigration officer. These are the questions she asked me with my answers...

Where are you going?
   ...I am going to Singapore.
How long will you stay?
  ...Just 5 days.
This is not a return ticket (holding the e-ticket printed from the internet), I need the one with the signature of the PAL supervisor?
  ...Ma'am, this is what I got from the internet.  This is the usual thing to do when we book online.
NO! Go back and have the printed form from the PAL supervisor counter!

I went out of the immigration section and have a printed copy of my e-ticket with the PAL supervisor signature on it.  They were also confused and so was I. This I said is unusual. So, I went back to the Officer.

This is the e-ticket, you've been to UAE and you're overstaying (looking at the pages of my passports)?
  ...No Ma'am, I did a month extension and it's legal to have one.
NO!You overtayed!

My heart was beating at a maximum rate....

So, where are you staying? my friends house
Do you have the invitation? Ma'am, we only have some conversation at the internet.
I need the invitation from your friend.
  ...How can I have that invitation for just 2 hours, the plane will be leaving.
I NEED IT! Provide it! (..she handed me all my documents)!

The PAL lobby seemed leaning on me, the ceiling, the glass and people around me looks so near. My heart beats unusual and my head aches.  All my labor and my hardship which I poured in these documents seemed to disappear in one click.

I said to myself, I will not go out of this airport. Singapore is the opportunity for my Family. If I can't make it out of this country, how will I support them?

Asking again to myself, what if the officer just have her bad day?  What if she was just tired at this time?  An idea lighted up on top of me.

How was I able to board the airplane?
I did not do illegal things, and never will! But, I was able to board the plane.

When I thought that maybe the officer has her bad day, I then transfered to the other officer, who happened to have few person on queue. This time, a young Officer was there on her booth. I went to her and handed my documents.

Where are you going?
   ...I am going to Singapore.
How long will you stay?
  ...Just 5 days.
Where will you stay? my friends house.

My heart pounded slowly and I can hear my own breathing.  Then, to my surprise, the officer took her chop and pulled it high above my passport and stamped it down to one of its pages.  The stamp that changed my life until now...

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  1. wow the other IO really gave you a hard time.. good thing you were able to think of going to another IO. good job! very inspiring. hope you'll have more stories to share. most specially once u landed sg and how u got ur job.

  2. wheww! as if I was feeling what you felt with the first IO officer. your story is really inspiring... will be looking forward in reading your next chapters in sg.

    God bless.

  3. I am glad that you were inspired by this. You also inspired me to post more things about Singapore. If you feel that this is helpful, please share it to your friends that may visit to Singapore, as tourist or OFW.

  4. Yep, I had the same experience. Philippine Immigration Officers are pricks! They are actually Psychology graduates who play mind tricks on you. It's annoying how our own countrymen are the ones that are hard to deal with. I had no problems with SG and Malaysian Immigration Officers when I came and exited their countries. These Philippine Immigration Officers are the arrogant ones. They think they own the friggin' country that we are travelling to. Technically, below are what you need to present to them for travelling as a tourist, and I quote this from the Philippine Immigrations Website(


    • Valid passport – at least 6 months;
    • Valid Original visa for port of entry( when required); and
    • For tourists, a return ticket. (Memorandum Order No. MCL – 07 -019 issued on October 24, 2007).

    There's no need for them to ask for an invitation or any other stupid questions. As long as I'm travelling and I'm friggin' coming back (as indicated on the return ticket), it's ok and if you want to travel and see the world, IT'S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. I really hate these guys because of the disrespect that they've given to my dad who is an OFW and a manager in Malaysia, a so-called "Bagong Bayani". The way they talked to him was as if he was a beggar of sorts. I understand that they are supposedly protecting people from doing "TNT" in other countries. But seriously, you can't do TNT in Singapore because with the size of their country, their technology, and their disciplined and organized police force, they can track your butt down. Besides, yeah sure, I'm goin' abroad to look for work but that does not mean I already have a job. If I don't find one, I still will be forced to come back to the country because of the Social Visit Pass validity. And if I do get a job, I will forced to process the needed requirements of POEA and OWWA, part of my remittances will benefit the Philippines and I will be one of the "Bagong Bayanis". So I don't really get the Philippines Immigration Officers are a bunch of arrogant pricks. I know someone will say they're just doing their jobs but that's BS! If they're doin' their jobs, they should have caught the criminals escaping abroad. They really love the power trip. If I were to come across anyone of them again and treat me again like crap, I'm gonna be ready and I definitely won't back the F down. whew! Sorry I really get frustrated when it comes to Philippine Immigration Stories. At least I blew some steam. Thanks for this site....

  5. Same thing happened to me, I guess it's the same IO you've encountered. However, I was unlucky because she escalated me, costing my flight. All other offloaded are going to Singapore and all of them came from the same IO. Good thing I have a copy of all of the other supporting documents in my phone as I was able to show it to them and they finally approved my flight. If you observe her offloading passengers again, my suggestion is - change lines immediately!

  6. Good to know that you're successful with your trip. Officers have their own way of decision making, it happened you're with her. She's probably the same officer that I've encountered.

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