— travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams —

travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

Just a few days ago, a Filipina posted on Facebook about her experience being offloaded from her June 17 flight to Singapore. She reports that she was made to wait for 1.5 hours for her interview with an Immigration official and that she was eventually offloaded for not being able to present her grandfather’s birth certificate. As of June 25, 2015, 12:01 AM, her post has been Liked by 9,907 people and shared 11,258 times.

Now, Immigration officers aren’t exactly my favorite people in the world and offloading is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. (Well, okay, it is, but only on my worst enemies. Heh.)

That said, before we join the bandwagon and question the ludicrousness of having to bring your dead grandfather’s birth certificate just to board an international flight, I think it’s worth examining the situation more closely.

Let’s get two points out of the way first:

  • We only know the side of the offloaded passenger. (Let’s refer to her as Ms. dela Cruz, though her complete name and her Facebook name are obvious enough in her post, which she made Public.) As people are never likely to divulge their own shortcomings when ranting, it would be nice if we also heard the side of the IO, just to have a more complete understanding of what happened. (See 26 June update below for the BI’s subsequent explanation.) Details that we don’t know — that might have proved to be important — include:
    • Is this Ms. dela Cruz’s first time to go out of the country?
    • Is this her first time to go to Singapore? (Her Facebook page states that she lives in “Bedok, Singapore.”)
    • How long was she going to stay in Singapore?
    • What was her itinerary?
    • Does she have a job here in the Philippines? (Her Facebook page states that she works in “Pbcom Tower.”)
    • Did she have proof of financial capacity? Or was her relative going to support her stay? If it’s the latter, was her relative able to provide her with the Affidavit of Support & Guaranty and was it duly authenticated by the Philippine embassy in Singapore?
      At any rate, here’s a screenshot of Ms. dela Cruz’s Facebook post — please just click to enlarge it (it’s rather long).

      From Ms. JA de la Cruz's Facebook page (Public post)
      From Ms. JA de la Cruz’s Facebook page (Public post)
  • Second, I definitely agree that she shouldn’t have been made to wait for an hour and a half for secondary inspection, especially as her boarding time was nearing.


Anti-offloading tips from an Immigration officer


The most important point, though — and the one that we should be most concerned about, since we don’t want the same thing to happen to us — is the fact that she was offloaded.

Apparently, Ms. dela Cruz was going to be staying with a relative in Singapore. She doesn’t mention in her post how exactly she was related to her host, but she says that the IO asked for “PROOF LANG NA KAPAMILYA KO DAW YUNG TITIRHAN KO” (proof that the person she will be staying with is a relative). She says she gave the IO a copy of her relative’s passport, invitation letter, Singapore ID and Philippine ID. However, the IO asked for proof that she was truly related to her host “KASI MASYADO NA DAW COMMON YUNG DELA CRUZ” (because dela Cruz is a common family name) — that is, it’s possible that they just have the same family names but aren’t truly related.

It was at this point that the IO apparently asked for Ms. dela Cruz’s grandfather’s birth certificate.

According to Ms. dela Cruz, “ANG SABI KO NAMAN, PAG BINIGYAN BA KITA NG BIRTHCERTIFICATE NG LOLO KO NAKALAGAY BA DUN NA GODDAUGHTER NYA KO?” (“I said, if I give you my grandfather’s birth certificate, will it show that I’m his goddaughter?”) This actually confuses me a bit — is “goddaughter” a typo, and she actually meant “granddaughter,” or did she mean that she was her host’s goddaughter, and if it’s the latter, are they really related? Either way, to cut the long story short, Ms. dela Cruz apparently could not present proof that she was related to the person she will be staying with in Singapore, and so she was offloaded.

As a footnote, it’s worth mentioning that Ms. dela Cruz made another attempt to fly to Singapore on June 19, and she was offloaded again, though she didn’t elaborate why.

From Ms. JA dela Cruz's Facebook page (Public post)
From Ms. JA dela Cruz’s Facebook page (Public post)

Why would someone need her grandfather’s birth certificate to fly abroad?

Ms. dela Cruz needed to present proof that she was related to the person she was going to stay with in Singapore. I suspect that the grandfather’s birth certificate was only mentioned as an example of a document that would prove the relationship — say, if she was going to be staying with an aunt, birth certificates would be a way to trace the family tree. If the IO did not explain that, then that’s quite an omission on her part, and Ms. dela Cruz is justified in complaining — though it wouldn’t change the fact that Ms. dela Cruz wasn’t able to prove her relationship to her would-be host. (I think it’s worth pointing out that the IO was right — dela Cruz is a common family name. In fact, the name Juan dela Cruz is our equivalent of John Doe.)

Why is it the Bureau of Immigration’s business whether one is related to one’s host?

According to the BI website, “a traveler will be subjected to a secondary inspection, when deemed necessary, for the purpose of protecting vulnerable victims of human trafficking, illegal recruitment and other related offenses. As such, Immigration Officers (IOs) are allowed to propound clarificatory questions relating to any documents presented or the purpose of travel. Based on answers provided, the traveler will be given a list of additional requirements to support his alleged purpose of travel.”

There have been thousands of cases of people going to other countries as “tourists” only to stay there as illegal workers. This month alone, the BI was able to catch strangers pretending to be friends going on a tour and women pretending to be missionaries, all of them on their way to undocumented jobs abroad as domestic helpers. Mary Jane Veloso flew to Kuala Lumpur as a “tourist” with a “friend” and $500 cash, and look where that got her.

Basically, Immigration officers have seen it all. So when a young girl traveling alone to Singapore says that she will be staying with a relative, but she can’t give definitive proof that she is indeed related to her host, I can imagine that would raise alarm bells for the Immigration officer.

Again, let me emphasize that I am not defending the Bureau of Immigration — I am just trying to put myself in their shoes. It’s a flawed system, and a lot of innocent people get trapped in the net along with the guilty ones, but since Immigration officers don’t have veritaserum or lie detectors, they have to rely on, well, less reliable methods like instinct and experience. That’s why it’s so important for travelers to prepare their documents.

What can we learn from this?

The lesson here is NOT that we should bring our dead grandfathers’ birth certificates when we travel.

What we should bring is proof that whatever we’re going to say to the Immigration officer is true.

If you’re flying to another country soon, here are some articles that might help:

What Filipinos Need to Know About Traveling Abroad: Guidelines from the Bureau of Immigration

Offloading, required documents, and other Immigration FAQs

I can’t stress this enough — it’s really better to over-prepare than to under-prepare. OA na kung OA, ‘wag lang ma-offload.

Update 26 June 2015: The Bureau of Immigration’s Response

According to the Inquirer, BI spokesperson Elaine Tan spoke to them in a phone interview and said that the IO asked Ms. dela Cruz to provide “the marriage certificate of her father and marriage certificate of her father’s cousin in Singapore whom Dela Cruz was going to visit” because “she was assessed to be financially incapable to travel in the secondary inspection.” Tan said, “Hindi rin po na-establish ‘yung employment niya. So based on the totality of circumstances, she is likely to be a victim of human trafficking. High risk po.” I don’t totally understand it — Is the person in Singapore only her father’s cousin by marriage? Or is the cousin married to a Singapore national which would explain her residency in Singapore? — but, still, the lesson here is to provide proof of your claims.

© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 


61 Responses

  1. I saw this today and kind of skimmed through her rant because it was too long! Hehe. But yes, when I read that she was being asked for her grandfather’s birth certificate, I thought too that maybe the IO was only trying to determine her relationship with the relative in Singapore. (Of course, most people’s takeaway from this story is that she was offloaded and was being unfairly asked for a dead relative’s document. Hmp.) I totally totally agree with being over-prepared being pretty OA myself. Case in point: the Schengen visa I applied for was for the purpose of visiting a friend in Germany who’s been a resident for about 5yrs. So aside from her letter of invitation, to prove our relationship I brought our old employment certificates from that company to show that we worked there in pretty much the same period. Plus printed photographs of us together haha! Quite praning, I know hahaha

  2. I simply cannot react, coz it is like a mixed emotion-kinda-thing. to be offloaded once is one thing but twice? Was she given an explanation hung second time? Kahit siguro ako, magagalit non. and i wonder why they specifically asked for the grandfather’s cert? ikaw ba maiisip mong dalhin ang birthcert ng lolo mo?

    nakakainis na nakakatawa at the same time. 😀

    1. It’s difficult to determine what actually happened because we only have her story and there’s a lot of missing details (I updated the post to list down what I think would have been nice to know). Pero true, I don’t think anyone would think of bringing their lolo’s birth cert. 😀 I think na-mention lang yun as an example, feeling ko what they really needed was just proof, kahit anong proof, that she was related to her host.

      1. It happens 🙁 I saw a news clip once about someone had been offloaded 3x. Nakalusot on the 4th try. It’s usually people who go abroad as tourists and the BI thinks they will actually try to work there. 🙁

      2. Oh wow! I see. They have a tough job rin to be fair… Hopefully it will be resolved. Un lang imagine the hassle and cost on the part of the person lalo kung mali ung IO? Hopefully magka update tong news na to

  3. We read that news here too. Sheila and I haven’t been outside the country (you already know that), but we’re planning to travel abriad in the near future. Considering we are low-budget backpackers, this news gives us quite a concern. Please bear with us; we haven’t been outside the Philippines. Hehehe!

    Here’s are our concerns: First, what if we can’t present a return ticket because we are planning an indefinite tour around SE Asia and we haven’t decided about our return schedule? Second, what if we can’t present a hotel booking because we’ll be staying in, say, a hostel, homestay, or bed-and-breakfast? Third, how do we prove we are financially capable considering that we are budget travelers?

    Thanks! This will truly help us in prepping up for our first out-of-the-country trip in the near future. 🙂

    1. Hi Gian (and Sheila)!

      I haven’t tried going on an indefinite backpacking trip so I can’t give you answers based on personal backpacking experience, but I think you don’t have to worry.

      Return ticket — Unfortunately, the Bureau of Immigration mentions a round-trip ticket as one of the minimum requirements for Filipinos going abroad. Best advice I can give you there is to set a tentative date for your return and book the cheapest flight you can find, like during a piso sale.

      Hotel booking — It doesn’t have to be a hotel, it can be an email confirmation from wherever you’re staying. Sometimes, the IO asks for a receipt, or proof that you’ve already paid for your accommodations, but they don’t do this to everyone, I think just to people that they suspect might be high risk for trafficking.

      Financial capability — I think it’s not so much the actual money in your account, but whether or not you can afford the trip you are taking. So, for example, if you have 100k in your account, that’s more than enough for a backpacking trip, but it won’t be enough for someone planning on a bakasyon grande in expensive locations. Basically you just have to prove that you can afford your trip. I’ve never been asked for proof of financial capacity during a trip, but for visa applications (which also require proof of financial capacity), what I do is I make a budget for the trip and I make sure that it’s well within the balance in my bank account.

      In your case, you guys have so much backpacking experience already within the Philippines, so bring proof of that, like maybe store photos in your phone. I think you can even show them your blog if necessary! (Show them your blog award!) In general, IOs (except for the really corrupt ones, I guess) take into consideration a lot of factors when making their decision, not just one thing. In the case of Julie Ann dela Cruz, I don’t think it was just the fact that she can’t prove her relationship to her host in Singapore, but that fact taken in the context of her other circumstances, like she’s female, single, and according to the BI spokesperson, financially incapable. And if you read her Facebook posts and comments, well, not to be judgmental about it, but she strikes me as someone who doesn’t seem too responsible and too wise (like she actually posted her threat to the IO who interviewed her), so I’m sure there was a whole lot of factors that led to the decision to offload her. In that respect, I don’t think you guys have anything to worry about.

      Sorry taas kaayo akong tubag! Hehe. Anyway, if you haven’t read this yet, this other article contains a bit more info about getting through Immigration, maybe it will help too:


  4. Hi! Im Dave, 21. Currently working as an accountant but not earning that big and Im planning to resign in my current job this coming November. And on that month my foreign friend wants me to travel with him here in Ph then KL then Laos. This whole trip will all be paid by him. The thing that concerns me are the documents I would need to prepare in my situation to legitimize this pending travel plan of ours. What should I do and bring to pass the IO in Ph. I really do hope and pray that you can help me with my trip. Thank you so much!

      1. Thank you so much! I have read most of your articles related to passing the IOs and it really helped me a lot and gave me ideas of how it’ll be like to be in there. I must admit it’s quite frightening to be offloaded of course. However, my intention is clean and that’s only to travel, spend some vacation and not to work somewhere else. Do you think my situation will be allowed by the IOs to let me board my plane? Thank you so much for your response! Good day!

      2. Hi Dave. I can’t predict what the IO will say or do — it really varies a lot and depends on whether there is something in your answers/documents/appearance that will trigger their suspicions — but I think that as long as you can show that your only purpose is tourism and that you’re coming back to the Philippines, you should be fine. Try to prepare your itinerary for both KL and Laos. Build up your savings so that the IO won’t think you are at high risk of drug trafficking. I know some people who weren’t employed when they traveled who were asked why they were traveling when they don’t have a steady source of income, so just prepare your answer to that. I think more people are traveling these days, many as backpackers, so hopefully the IOs are getting used to the idea that some people just want to travel even if they don’t have millions in the bank. Don’t forget to get your friend to make an affidavit of support for your trip. And during the interview, just answer confidently. Good luck! 🙂

      3. Awee. Thanks! I never knew that affidavit of support also apply to friends. Thank you so much for all the informations. All of these will definitely help in my travel plan. Thank you for reaching out! Hoping for more power in your blog and your personal life aswell! I’ll keep everything in mind.

      4. Regarding the affidavit of support, the BI website actually says: “If not financially capable to travel, an authenticated Affidavit of Support or Letter of Invitation, indicating therein the relationship within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, together with the supporting documents may be entertained; Affidavit of Undertaking/Guaranty may likewise be entertained.”

        So in most cases the affidavit would have to come from a close relative. But, in your case, if your friend is paying for everything, you might as well get him to put that in writing in the hope that having a legal document will help.

        I hope you have a great time on your trip and thanks for your well wishes. 🙂

      5. Awe. Thank you so much! Bookings were made already! So excited and nervous at the same time. Hope everything will be okay. Again thank you so much for everything!

    1. It did. However, I have work and family and other things to take care of. I answer messages when I can.

      1. Yeah it did. Im sorry for sending another one. Hope it didn’t bother you that much and thank you so much for the response.

  5. Hi,ask ko lang po almost 2 years na ako na opload ng 3× going to singapore.then now may tourist visa na ako ng japan…possible po ba na d na ako mahaharang ng immigation

  6. I don’t really like to go out much but a family friend (who coincidentally became my ninang) based in Cambodia has been inviting me to visit her since I graduated from college. Recently, she planned to celebrate her bday with her hubby, she told me and another friend to tag along since there was a promo fare (alam nya din kasi na ayaw kong naalis mag-isa)

    To cut to the chase, my companions were able to fly to Cambodia last night whilst I had to go home. Haha…Now, I’m conflicted abt rebooking since I have to go through the same ordeal, alone and pay for the penalty and ticket difference ng bagong flight.

    Any suggestions with what I should do? Thanks.

    1. Hi Is.ka,

      I don’t know why you were offloaded in the first place, so I can’t give you specific advice other than to be meticulous about your documents and make sure that these documents address the reason for your being offloaded before.

      Good luck!

  7. Hi tanong lang po, pumunta ako nang dubai as tourist pero nagtrabaho ako doon. Pero nag resign na ako sa tinatrabahuan ko tapos umuwi ako ngayong December at babalik din sa January. Posible po ba maharang ako sa immigration kahit nanay ko naman magsponsor sakin? Saka yung record nang pagtrabaho ko dun makiquestion kaya? Pls advise po. Thanks.

    1. Hi CJ. Since pumunta ka abroad for one reason but you stayed there for another reason, it’s possible that if the Immigration officials know about it, that will affect their judgment of your future trips.

  8. Hello po! Questions po. I am planning to go to Dubai next year as a tourist. My intention is to apply directly for an airline company based in Dubai kasi pahirapan ang pag-apply sa agency nla dito sa Pilipinas, so balak ko sana i-try yung luck ko kung sa kanila nlng ako directly mag.aaply. I don’t have any relatives or friends I know of na andun sa Dubai. Balak ko gawin is magpa.sponsor sa travel agency sa dubai, hotel, tickets, visa fees, etc. Parang red flag yata etong gagawin ko kasi tourist tapos mag.aaply pala ng trabaho. And this will be my first time to travel abroad.

    Hindi po ba pwedeng mag.apply ng trabaho while on a tourist visa and then just look for an employer na magproprovide ng working visa once there?

    Kung tatanungin ng immigration, must I lie about my intention para lng hindi ako haharangan?

    Do I have to be an active voter (two consecutive elections na akong hindi nakapagboto so binura na yata yung name ko sa comelec) para makapag.abroad?

    Sorry for such noob questions, I need all the help and advise I can for this kasi. Salamat in advance.

    1. Hi Becca! Sorry for the delayed reply, I’ve been really busy. I can’t predict what the Immigration officer will decide in your case — it depends on them talaga, and meron din namang people in the same situation as you na nakalusot, so let’s hope na you’ll get through without a hitch din. Pero you’re right, medyo red flag yung case mo…based na rin sa mga kwento ng ibang nag-co-comment dito sa blog, you might be asked why you’re going to Dubai on your first trip abroad, wala ka namang friends or family dun. Kung intention mo lang is tourism, why not Hong Kong muna or Singapore or another ASEAN country?

      I wouldn’t advise you to lie either kasi they’re usually pretty good at detecting lies, and also if you get found out, baka black mark na yun against you. I know of some people who go to another country first, like Singapore, and then dun na mag-bo-board ng flight for Dubai, but again, I can’t advise you to do that kasi risky talaga, and the IOs are aware din of that possibility.

      I don’t think you have to be an active voter to go abroad, wala naman yata yan sa rules and I’ve never heard yet of anybody who was asked for voting records.

      I’m sorry I can’t be of more help… I haven’t been in the same situation kasi so I don’t have firsthand knowledge or experience about it, plus hindi naman pwede na i-advise kita to do something illegal. 🙂 I do wish you all the best. xx

      1. Hi! Ask ko po sana kasi jan. 8 flight namin bf ko papuntang hk visit nmin yung mom ko…mother ko nagpa booked ng tickets nmin at guesthouse n tutuluyan namin at scan lang ny yung reciept at calling card ng guesthouse tas print nmen…yung invitation letter nya kasi dalawa kami ng bf ko n isusuport nya dun..parehas kami unemployed galing xa saudi last july lang dumating at aq nag work din s hk last 2014 aq umuwi…my dala naman bf ko n pocket money woorth 1k usd in case hanapan kami….ama ooffload kaya kami kasi un employed kami parehas? Nagtatakot kasi aq dami ko nababasa about offload…yung docs ng mother ko n binigay sakin…contract,hk id, passport, oec, at yung employer din nya pumirma sa invitation letter na support nya invitation n d kami mag hahanap ng work dun at visit lang mother ko for 7 days….help help help

      2. Hi Diana! I can’t predict kung ma-o-offload ba kayo or not. Siguro may chance na ma-offload because you’re both unemployed but posible namang hindi. Ang suggestion ko, aside from your mom’s documents of support, is to bring proof of your ties here in the Philippines, to help show to the IO that you’re really coming back and you’re not going there to look for work. Good luck!

  9. Thank u for reply… 🙂 pero ok lang b yun na mom ko mag invite samin ng bf ko? kasi ang nababasa ko relatives lang 4th degree? Kadi d naman nya kaano ano bf ko….:-/ na stress aq kakaisip…:(

    1. Kung boyfriend mo lang ang in-invite nya, that would be another matter, pero magkasama naman kayo ng boyfriend mo so it shouldn’t be a problem.

      1. Thank you so much sa pagrereply…godbless sayo kasi halata n napaka matulungin pagrereply mo s mga tanong ko napakalaking tulong n yun…thank u again!!!

      2. Thank you Diana! Don’t worry about it too much na lang, just try to bring all the documents that you can, tapos answer the IO calmly and honestly. If they ask a lot of questions, don’t panic para hindi magkamali ng sagot. Good luck!

  10. year 2012 na oofload na po den di ko na din ni try parang na trauma kasi ako at nanghinayang sa pera and now naisip ko ulit magpa booked ng vacation but kasama ko na po mom ko.. is there a possibility na ma offload po ulit ako?

    1. Hi Glaiza! Sorry for the late reply. Lahat naman tayo may chance na ma-offload, or in your case, may chance na ma-offload ulit, kasi medyo unpredictable minsan yung mga decisions ng Immigration. Pero, oo, I think it will help if kasama ang mom mo, and also try to prepare yung mga documents na posibleng i-require ng IO. Try mo lang, kasi sayang din naman if your whole life hindi ka makapag-travel. Try mo lang magbook ng promo flights para hindi masyadong sayang ang pera (although sayang pa rin yun pero at least hindi masyadong malaki yung nasasayang na pera if ever ma-offload ka) and yun nga, just prepare as many documents as you can.

  11. Hi po! Maraming salamat talaga sa blogs. I know, marami pang mga travelers na matutulungan dito. At isa na ako dun, tlagang pina ulit- ulit ko tong binasa. Marami ka tlagang ideas na makukuha dito lalo na sa mga first timer na mag travel abroad. Kawawa tlaga ang nangyari sa isang babae na na-ofload dahil lng hindi sya nkapagbigay ng birth sa kanyang lolo. As a traveler, yan tlaga ang ayaw natin mangyari. One of this month, mag travel ako papuntang UAE as visit visa, sponsored with my sister. Sa ngayon, wla po akng work. I do business only. Actually, i worked as a freelancer 4 years already. But sad to say, all my projects has been ended. What i have now is just only a Certificate of Earnings. Is it possible that i will go to the 2nd inspect because i don’t have a job? Do you think it is enough to have a copy of birth certificate of my sister as a proof that we are related? Or is it needed to have another option of proof to show that we are really related. As what my sister said, if pagpalain daw ako sa immigration, my flight is via SG. Parang connecting flight yata ang mangyayari dito. So, in that case my chance pa ba na ma detain ako dun sa Sg? Myrun pa bang interview na mangyayari dun? At hindi po round trip ticket ang kinuha ng sister ko. With my case, kailangan pa ba ang hotel reservation, dun lang man ako mag stay sa tinutuluyan nya?!
    I hope you have time to read this, despite your busy hours. Your idea is highly appreciated.

    1. Hi Juvaira! I’m glad nakatulong kahit konti ang mga sinusulat ko dito sa blog. First of all, kung pupunta ka doon as tourist, dapat talaga round trip ang ticket mo, hindi pwede one-way lang, kasi kapag one way lang, syempre the Immigration officer will think na baka ang purpose mo doon is not really as a tourist but baka maghahanap ka ng work doon. You can use your sister’s and your own birth certificates to show that you are related. I don’t know if mahigpit din ba ang scrutiny doon sa SG for Filipinos going to UAE but yes there might still be questions from the Immigration officials in Singapore. Since you’re visiting and staying with your sister, I think you don’t need a hotel reservation, pero kailangan may mga invitation letter and other papers from your sister regarding her status there. Good luck!

  12. Hi! I really have this big problem i hope you can help me. Recently I was offloaded i was asked a lot of questions by the io so nasabi kong employed ako somewhere but now since na offload ako my employer couldn’t wait anymore and they are not interested on my service. So for second time around I want to travel as a tourist na tlga, im bound to Singapore alone. Sayang kasi anh ticket at hotel na nabook ko so gusto kong gamitin yun. Because the last time the io required to have an OEC to comply but I’m not ofw and my employment visa was cancelled already. Please help me thank you.

    1. Hi Summerrain!

      I think ang magagawa mo lang talaga is to make sure na you can prove na pupunta ka na lang doon as tourist. So be prepared kung tatanungin ka ng IO kung anong mga activities mo doon as a tourist, anong places ang pupuntahan mo, etc. Kung iku-question ka about yung previous attempt mo, when you were offloaded, I think you can just be honest, just tell them what you wrote here. I think honesty naman talaga is the best strategy, marami kasing na-o-offload kasi may tinatago, eh sa sobrang dami na’ng experience ng mga IO, they notice talaga if there are holes in your story, kaya it’s better to be honest. You can read about some of the documents you might need to present in this article:

      Good luck!

  13. As a foreigner living in the Philippines I find the notion that IO’s are allowed to prevent legal travelers leaving the country disturbing.
    If a country decides to impose restrictions on people entering their country, such as the requirement that visitors have an onward ticket when arriving in the Philippines, that is entirely that country’s business and I have no problem with those rules. However, I do have a problem when countries have laws which prevents their citizens leaving; when barriers are put in place, not to prevent entry, but to prevent travel. That goes back to the days of communist Russia and makes the country a prison which is difficult to leave, even for a holiday.
    On a personal note and related to an earlier post. Last year my live-in partner and myself were stopped while attempting to fly out without her having a round trip ticket. The reason for her not having a ticket was because we had no fixed itinerary and no fixed return date. The proposed holiday was to be based around a ‘let’s go somewhere until we’ve seen enough, then go somewhere else – come back to the Philippines when the money gets low’ plan. Instead, we saw our first destination and came home, because I was forced to buy a ticket before she could board the plane. That is a situation that Europeans never, ever face.

    1. Hi Graham! I know, it’s sad and frustrating that there are these restrictions — what we would give to be treated the way European travelers are treated! — but apparently it’s “for our own good.” They’re trying to prevent, as much as they can, human trafficking and also Filipinos staying illegally in other countries (claiming to be tourists but actually going there to work). Can’t deny these things have happened quite frequently in the past and so they’re more strict with us now. Regarding the return ticket, I recently spoke with an Immigration officer and he said that they require us to have a return ticket because a return/onward ticket is almost certainly required at border control at the country of destination, and we could be sent back if we don’t have one. I’m sorry you had to cut your trip short because of that.

  14. My mother has travelled to Singapore numerous times but it was only today that she was offloaded because she couldn’t produce her Leave of Absence Form from work. It is an essential travel document the CebPac staff said. She was brought to their office where they asked her to re-book her flight (forgetting the need to produce that “essential document” they asked for earlier).
    My mother is nearing retirement and is actually using up her leave credits.
    Does this just happen to travellers bound for Singapore? And only with Cebu Pacific flights?

    1. Hi Rhea! Hmmm… That’s strange because I don’t think the Cebu Pac staff actually have the right to decide on that matter and instruct her to rebook her flight. Because the absolute requirements for travel are only the passport, the visa if necessary, and the return ticket. The Bureau of Immigration *may* ask for a signed Leave of Absence, but usually they only make it a must if the traveler is likely to be lying about the purpose of her trip or a victim of trafficking. Singapore is one of the places that are kind of a red flag for trafficking, but the BI says they would assess the “totality of circumstances” of the traveler, and I suspect (though I can’t be sure) that in your mom’s case, the Immigration officer would have allowed her to go, since, as you said, she’s nearing retirement. I think Cebu Pac has the authority to defer her departure.

  15. im travelling to uae this month with my 3month old baby and my mother in law .do i need to get affidavit of support..ofw from dubai

    1. Hi Marivie. If you’re not the one paying for your trip, then yes, it’s best if you ask for an affidavit of support from your sponsor. If your sponsor is in Dubai, I think he/she will need to have the affidavit verified by the Phil. embassy/consulate there. Good luck!

  16. How sad 🙁 immigration officers are mean bullies. They dont their job very well thats why they just knit pick. And make up all sorts of excuses to offload you

    1. Hi Jake! To be fair, although there are some corrupt and condescending immigration officers, I think majority of them are honest and it isn’t really their goal to offload anyone (they don’t gain anything from it). They just have a difficult job, sorting out the honest travelers from the ones with other intentions. And because they can’t read minds, they have to rely on their past experiences with the “modus” of travelers, like traveling to another country supposedly as a tourist but actually going there to work. I’ve had some people writing me here, asking for advice on how to get through Immigration because they want to tour Singapore or Hong Kong…and the next thing I know, they’re already in Dubai, working without the proper papers. I understand why people do it, but it can be dangerous.

  17. There should be a law na kung mali yung IO ay magrerefund yung government sa financial loss ng tourist para nman fair dun sa mga legit tourist na nasasayang lang yung pera dahil sa maling akala. Para nman mag-iingat yung mga IO sa mga pinaggagawa nila kasi accountable rin sila. My point is di sila accountable kung sila yung mali, parang mali yata.

  18. Henry James you’re absolutely right, it’s not easy to spend time, effort and money (hard earned money) to waste. It has to be fair, there should be at least a compensation to those that are victims of Immigration Officers fault. I would understand those travellers that are not legit and caught, but what concerns me are those legit first time travellers that has to be offloaded by mistake.

  19. Hi. I need help. I want to travel in singapore but I just recently graduated and still unemployed. Although I can finance my trip. Is there a chancr ma offload ako and what should I do?

  20. Hi! I was offloaded in December 2013, confiscated docs included passport. Up to this time, hindi pa rin naibalik ng BI ang passport ko. Any advise how I can retrieve it or whether mag affidavit of loss na lang? Please please reply. thanks.

    1. Hi Eve. Sorry for the delay in replying. Did you try to get it back from the BI? What did they say about it? Did they give you a date for when they will give it back? I think you should communicate with them first, and whatever reply they give you, you can use that to try to get a new passport.

  21. Hi! I was offloaded TWICE last year on my first trip to Dubai, using the visit visa I acquired from a travel agency.. I’m employed and will purely go there for tourism purposes. 1st reason is though confirmed book na yung hotel, kailangan fully paid and may proof of bank transcation since wala akong credit card and 2) I have enough cash on hand (50k for a month vacation) but they checked pa din my bank account (show money) if sufficient yun.. though nakaka-depress talaga siya I tried for the 3rd time and nakalusot ako finally pero instead of one month, 15 days lang ako dun.

    This month, I will visit again there on sponsored visa ng 2nd cousin ko. I just want to ask sana if pwede ba na scanned copies lang ng PSA birth certificate yung mape-present ko sa IOs to prove our relationship?

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