Anti-Offloading Tips from an Immigration Officer

Anti-Offloading Tips from an Immigration Officer | SGMT —
Plus guidance straight from the Bureau of Immigration and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).


I recently had the chance to put a few questions to an Immigration officer and he kindly agreed to give me a few tips for travelers who might be nervous about getting offloaded. (I promised him I would keep his identity confidential, even though he didn’t really require this as a condition to answering my questions, and I also assured him he didn’t have to reveal any “trade secrets” from the Bureau of Immigration.) Please take note that these tips are for legit tourists, particularly first time travelers who might understandably be worried about the possibility of being offloaded. If you’re reading this so you can find out how to fool the Immigration officer at NAIA, I urge you to please, please reconsider your plans. You may have good intentions — maybe you just want to work so you can send your kids to school and get your family out of poverty — but the risks can be very high. It might be your family who will end up having to sell everything to save you, so please think about it.

Required Documents: The Basics

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First of all, if you haven’t read “Pinoy Abroad: List of Documents Required by Immigration for International Travel” please do so right now. (The link will open in a separate tab so you don’t have to leave this page.) That article will give you a list of documents you have to bring when you travel — the basic requirements, the additional documents that may be required if the Immigration officer has doubts about you, the requirements if someone else is paying for your trip, and the list of people who need a DSWD travel clearance or a Travel Authority. If you want to be really prepared — to the point of being over-prepared sometimes — you’ll find even more tips here: “Offloading, required documents, and other Immigration FAQs.”
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An Immigration Officer’s Tips

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Here’s the gist of what the immigration officer said when I asked him for tips for first time travelers:
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Real People: Gea Pino

Gea is so passionate about travel (and so eloquent about the experience AND so resourceful with funding…you’ll see what I mean later!) that it’s hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t always going off to one place or another. And yet there was a time when — like so many of us — she was always saying, “I don’t have the money; I’ll travel when I’m rich.” Read on to find out what changed her mind.

RealPeople_Gea_01NAME
Florie Gil (Gea) Pino
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OCCUPATION
I am a chemical engineer by profession but currently working as a Manufacturing Specialist and as a Pollution Control Officer of San Miguel Foods Inc.
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HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Honestly, I don’t have a travel fund per se. I do save up if ever I travel. And those savings are backed up by loans. SSS loans go to travel expenses. And sometimes it’s fly-now-pay-later as part of the travel expenses are taken care of by the reliable plastic cards.

Most of the time, even if the tickets are bought way in advance, my travels are based on whatever is available during the airline’s seat sale. I do have places in mind that I want to go to before the airlines offer seat sales.

For someone who is like me — who feels “sick” for not having traveled even locally for two months in a row — and would like to set up a travel fund, have someone keep the money for you. For instance, open a joint bank account with a friend who, like you, would want to have that travel fund. And think of that money as something not really yours, so when the time comes that you need it for a great adventure, you have the finances to back you up.
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WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Surigao del Sur
Tip: Traveling in a group will be a lot more economical than traveling alone in this area. Going from one place to another will take a lot of time. So either you go by habal2x which is faster than taking a public bus or you rent a van. Habal2x fare is per motorcycle, so it’s better to have someone to share it with or you pay the full fare all by yourself.
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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
By next week I will be flying out to the capital. From there, I will travel by land to Zambales to surf. (Note: Because of my publishing schedule, this actually already happened!) But for next year, I have booked myself a ticket to Myanmar among others. And hopefully (God willing), on the later part of next year, to Europe.
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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
EUROPE. No explanation needed.

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FAVORITES
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DESTINATION
Singapore has always been my favourite — I’m not sure why! Probably because it was the first country I had been to outside the Philippines. And whenever I’m there, I always feel at home even though I’m just crashing in some friend’s home. You can never get lost in Singapore. Their railway system is the best in my opinion. And the peppered crabs are just so mouth watering. Yes, I know, they’re known for their chilli crabs but the hawker station in Ang Mo Kio offered that peppered crabs were the best — well, except maybe for those chilli crabs that my friend made for my last dinner at their home last year.
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STAY
By far, my favourite hostel would have to be the Explorers guesthouse in Kuala Lumpur. It’s clean and cheap and offers overflowing coffee anytime of the day and free bread and spreads for breakfast. It’s a few blocks away from Pasar Seni station.
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FOOD
Somewhere in Kuala Lumpur, just across the H&M store, we chanced upon a Mediterranean restaurant. Aside from it being delish, it was friendly on the budget. For someone who could live on Skyflakes just to save up during travels, that’s telling a lot! And the noodles in Blue Sky Hotel in the Old Quarters in Hanoi was really good for 25,000 kip worth. I chose it because it was one of the cheapest on the list (and I really need something other than Skyflakes to eat) and good thing it was far from being a disappointment! That was the best buy.

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TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
Travel style or philosophy? I’m not sure. I guess it would depend on what you really like to do — like I always see to it to experience or see what the place is known for or whatever interests me for the time being. But I do admit that food is last on the list, probably because eating is really a necessity so I don’t dwell that much on food. Basically, I just want to see the beauty this world has. Call it sightseeing or whatever, but the sights and wonders of a place is a testament to how beautifully artistic our loving Creator is. Whether it be a place or the people, whenever I see something good I always say “Lord, you are sooo good! You are beyond awesome!” and to be able to see what He has created and to not just see it but experience it, it humbles me that He allowed it to happen and my heart is just full of thankfulness.

Traveling? Dream it and make it happen. Don’t wait for it to happen — make it happen! One convo with the owner of the plant I worked with jumpstarted my travel. He asked me why I haven’t been traveling when he could hear in my voice how much I’d love to travel. My answer was always: I don’t have the money, I’ll travel when I’m rich. Then he said: you don’t need to be rich to travel. You just have to make it a priority. You buy bags, shoes, and other stuff you don’t really need — why not buy yourself a plane ticket? And I was, like, yeah, why not? It was one of the best advice I ever got.

Reading blogs has its advantages and disadvantages. It can trim down what you want to see and what you want to do from your own personal researches. From those blogs, you’ll know how to go to places that are cheaper, safer and more enjoyable. You can estimate the time and money that you need. But it can be disadvantageous as well. It can make your itchy restless feet itch and become restless even more. Your wanderlust will become even more insatiable as your bucketlist becomes even longer, even with the ticking off of places that once were on the list.

And I just realized now: the more I travel to other countries, the more I love the Philippines, the more I appreciate what we have. It’s hard not to compare places, it’s hard not to compare another country with your country. Right now, I’m mentally comparing Phi Phi islands with El Nido and Coron. Haha. But the Philippines will always be the winner for me.

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Real People: Gea Pino” was created by FGP and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

Real People: Yvonne Carangue

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I met Yvonne in Batanes. There were 5 of us having breakfast together: Yvonne was there with her friends Marge and Cheng, while Sir Onkar and I were both solo travelers. I was fumbling my Tagalog when, to my great relief, I found out that the three girls were also native Bisaya speakers. Hay salamat! All four of them were very kind to me and told such interesting stories. I wouldn’t recommend the breakfast at Fundacion Pacita (so little food for such a hefty price tag!) but I do recommend traveling solo at least once in your lifetime — it will give you the chance to meet and make friends with people like Yvonne.

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RealPeople_Yvonne_02NAME
Maria Yvonne Carangue

OCCUPATION
Radio broadcaster / Account executive

HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Usually I take the budget out of my salary — 20% monthly. If I have commissions from sales, 50% of it will go directly to my travel fund.

WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Singapore and Kuala Lumpur last September 2014. That was our 2nd time there — the first was in 2011.

Singapore Tips:

  • If you want a discounted price for any attraction in SG, go to Lucky Plaza Mall and buy package tickets from the Cebu Pacific Travel Agency — you can save as much as SGD 5-10.
  • Don’t miss the light, sound and water show in Marina Bay Sands and the Supertree show at Gardens by the Bay — for free! Schedule: 7:45pm and 8:45pm; Lights and Sounds: 8pm and 9:30pm
  • Find a cheap but comfy hostel along Geylang Road and China Town near MRT stations.

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WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
Planning (fingers crossed) to visit Seoul, South Korea during spring time (to see the cherry blossoms) next year!

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WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?

  • International
    • Beijing, China
    • Jerusalem, Israel
    • Japan
    • Paris, France
  • Philippines
    • Vigan
    • Palawan
    • Sagada

RealPeople_Yvonne_TravelPics_01

FAVORITES

DESTINATION: Hongkong and Macau
When we got there last 2012, it was cold and Christmas season, that’s why travel was so comfy. And Disneyland was just so amazing for someone who’s young at heart like me. We stayed in the pad of an OFW, Annabelle Copia, in Kowloon for as low as P400 per night. She guided us through all the directions and attractions in HK. Hong Kong to Macau is just P900. Macau is really the city of dreams. It’s one of my favorites because we didn’t spend a penny for transportation there. The shuttle buses of all hotels and casinos are for free. Unlimited juice, tea, coffee and souvenirs are also for free. (Isn’t that amazing?) But if you’re with a group and spending 1-2 days there, it’s a must to have a Filipino tour guide (cheap).

STAY: Khaosan Immjai in Bangkok, Thailand
This is a newly built hostel near Khaosan Road for as low as 350-450 pesos per night with free breakfast, unlimited coffee and bread.

FOOD: I’m not really into restaurants or cafes when traveling. I love the street foods in Khaosan Road (Bangkok) and Chinatown (Singapore). You can eat there for as low as 50-100 pesos per meal.

RealPeople_Yvonne_01

 

TRAVEL PHILOSOPHY
We make sure that we have a cheap but memorable travel experience — inexpensive but including many places and attractions.

Additional tips:

  • Always bring printed maps and MRT maps.
  • Ask for help from locals.
  • We travel light but when we come back our bags are heavy with lots of pasalubong for our loved ones — as in maximum of 40 kg when we get home!
  • If you want to travel, make sure you read blogs from fellow travelers — you can get lot of tips on where to go, what to do, and where to stay. Consider all the dos and donts.

Ang pagbibiyahe ay isang paglilibang at edukasyon. Hindi kailangang maging mayaman ka para makapagbiyahe. Don’t let your dreams remain dreams. Start now while you are able. My favorite quote is from Lao Tzu: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

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Real People: Yvonne Carangue” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.