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travel inspiration for small budgets and big dreams

Rappler offloading article screenshot

An article I wrote for Rappler about how to minimize one’s chances of being offloaded by the Bureau of Immigration was published just yesterday and I think it’s worth bringing up a few points:

  • I think we can all agree that the system at the Bureau of Immigration needs improvement. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m no fan of the Immigration people and their profiling methods. As a 5’1″ brown-skinned girl with a relatively high-risk profession, I’ve had my share of raised eyebrows and skeptical tones, and that pisses me off. I hate that you have to prove your innocence instead of them having to prove your guilt. I can rant with the best of ’em, but I choose not to, for the simple reason that it usually doesn’t help. Change the system, yes, by all means! No one is stopping you. But I refuse to be uselessly negative; change is unlikely to be brought about by people rabidly spewing inane analogies and shortsighted generalities from the comforts of their keyboards.
  • There are a lot of issues here than just the right to travel. Even in the event that someone manages to weed out all the corrupt Immigration officials, there is still human trafficking, drug trafficking, and poverty to contend with. There’s no denying that a lot of people do go abroad with less than pure motives. I don’t blame them — most of them do it to feed their families — but that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. I’m sure that anyone who steps forward with a foolproof way — actually, not even a foolproof way, but even just a better way — to combat human/drug trafficking without subjecting innocent passengers to undue burden would be hailed as a hero.
  • One thing people always complain about when they get offloaded is that they didn’t know that they should have brought all those extra documents. I strongly believe the Bureau of Immigration should do a better job of educating people. It’s a real problem but a solvable one, so I went ahead and did something about it.
  • Rappler accepts contributions from everyone —  you can email your articles to Stop saying I should do this and I should do that. If you feel so strongly about it, stop yapping about what other people should do and do it yourself. I will be the first to stand up and clap.

In the meantime, I would rather make a little progress and help a few people, than make a lot of noise and accomplish nothing.

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

28 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh how cool you had an article published. Congratulations. You’re one of the very best, most friendly and down to earth travel writers around and you deserve to be heard (and read!) Second: Blar….wh

      1. Are you talking about the rape one? Because that was the one that really annoyed me. It’s so stupid, like I could think of all sorts of ways that it’s different, but I’m just gonna not bother.

      2. YES! I replied to it. I couldn’t help myself. It’s not the same thing AT ALL. I’m going to make a comparison that’s not so good but it’s the best thing I can think of to make my point about the article. What you describe happens sounds so stressful not to mention can derail someone’s plans completely. I’ve never been in that situation so the best I can come up with is the border crossing from the US to Canada(or Mexico which I’ve never been to). I’ve been pulled over going through customs, had my vehicle searched and been questioned. It is not fun at all. It’s stressful even though I know I didn’t lie or hide anything from the border agent and I don’t understand why they think I’m suspicious. I know I’ll likely be permitted to continue on my way to Canada as soon as they’re done checking me out but it’s still a let down. The whole process from questioning to having the car checked might take less than 15 minutes(or hours) and it’s an terrible 15 minutes. A lot of people get really upset if that happens to them too. So I’m imagining how being offloaded from an airplane would feel and it’s 455040204923 x worse!! So if somebody said to me “I’m going into Canada for a festival tomorrow, what if the border agents stop me?” I’d tell them how stupid it is they take the time to pull over suspicious people who are actually not criminals in the slightest bit and then give them advice to make it as smooth as possible so they can go on their journey. Because it sucks but the calmer you stay and more you tell the truth the sooner it’s over.

        The other thing is that sometimes people read helpful articles but say “Bah!! I already knew that!” or want to talk about something related (how to change the system) but that’s not what the article is about. It’s great that it can open up that thought and discussion perhaps but the article is for the people who asked for help. Who are worried and should be as prepared as possible to get through that worst case scenario. So for the people who think they already knew or the advice isn’t beneficial to them…they need to realize it’s not FOR them.

      3. Thank you for taking the time to reply to that comment! I hope he doesn’t harass you or anything because of that. I checked out his Twitter account and it seems like he actually enjoys pissing people off. Thank you for standing up to him!

  2. Very helpful indeed! But I have a concern. I’ll be flying to Hong Kong in month. I already have the 2 basic requirements. For my hotel reservation, it’s under my boyfriend’s name who is Korean. We’ll go sightseeing there together. Am I in bad shape? I have my pocket money though. Any advice? Thank you sooo much!

  3. Hi,my flight is on july 23 already to sweden, my concern is i didnt have that cfo stamp on passport, i had all the requirments they might ask from except for cfo, and ill be flying with my bf from hk to sweden,its a connecting flight from me here in clark airport to hk.. do i have a big chance to get offload?

    1. Hi Anne! Unfortunately, I can’t predict what documents the immigration officer might ask from you — based on the experience of others, some get asked for CFOs while some don’t — so I can’t estimate your chances of being offloaded. If your flight was farther in the future, I might advise you to get a CFO, just in case, but since it’s already on July 23, I guess the only thing we can do is hope that your IO won’t require a CFO.

      1. Hi its anne here, im here now already in sweden, well thanks IO never ask me anything for my flight.. i had my visa, round-trip ticket only showed to them.. now enjoying my trip here with my bf. ☺☺

  4. Hello! ask ko lang po…

    I will be travelling to SG on August 2015 for a 8days (my first ever international flight). I’m a fresh graduate, unemployed. All I have is my passport, round trip ticket, and invitation letter from my friend’s sister in law. Doon po kasi ako magstastay sa condo niya para makasave po for accommodation.

    As for my pocket money po, I have my savings account. Naka-passbook naman po ako so makikita po dun yung consistent remittance galing sa mom ko since 2013 hanggang ngayon. My mom works abroad, siya po ang mag fufund sa travel ko. I will be having 1,000SGD on hand during my flight, and may back up parin ako sa savings account ko up to 6 digits in peso. I also have my debit card. I can also ask for a bank statement from my bank.

    My relationship with my friends sister in law is obviously not within the 4th civil degree of consanguinity or affinity. So malaking problema po ba’to? Di po ba talaga marereconsider na kahit as a friend ko lang din siya? 🙁

    Mataas po ba ang probability na ma ooffload ako considering na yan lang po ang mapapakita kong documents/proofs?
    Nagbabasa palang po ako ng mga cases about offloading nakakadrain na agad emotionally 🙁

    Thank you po.

    1. Hi Athena!

      Please don’t be discouraged. Although maraming na-o-offload, mas marami pa rin naming nakaka-travel ng walang problema sa Immigration, yung mga na-o-offload lang ang napapabalita sa news at internet. You still have time pa naman to prepare.

      It’s possible na the Immigration officers will ask you more questions kasi nga first time mo to travel abroad, tapos fresh graduate ka pa, at wala kang trabaho. So prepare yourself for that possibility para hindi ka magpapanic if ever marami ngang tanong.

      It sounds naman na you have the financial capacity to fund the trip, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Even if you’re a fresh graduate, parang graduation gift yan ng mom mo ang trip mo, di ba. I *THINK* because you have the financial capacity, hindi masyado magiging issue yung pagstay mo with your friend’s sister-in-law, although I can’t guarantee that. Try to focus on proof na tourism lang talaga ang reason mo for traveling to Singapore — make an itinerary, make a budget for it. If, for example, pupunta ka sa Gardens by the Bay, magbook ka na lang online ng ticket, para maipapakita mo na pupuntahan mo ang mga tourist attractions sa Singapore. And try to make plans for after your trip, like if you can, try to schedule a job interview after your trip, or something like that. Show that you have plans for how to get a job here in the Philippines after your trip. And like I said, don’t get rattled if you’re asked a lot of questions, just speak confidently and try not to be nervous. Just give it a try, I think naman you have a good chance of getting through.

      Enjoy Singapore!

      1. Hello! I made it po here in SG! Maraming tanong yung IO but in the end pinalusot din ako without going through the second interview 😀 Your tips really helped po 🙂 Thanks again!

      2. Yay!! I’m so happy for you. And thanks for taking the time to write back and share your experience. Enjoy Singapore!! 🙂

  5. hi! i’m planning to go to dubai on december and also planning to work there. The thing is, can I bring my mom and my son also? If I have my working visa, magiging under din ba dun ang anak ko and my mom also? Is there any requirements? 🙂 Please advise. 🙂

    1. Hi wen. I don’t have personal experience with Dubai visas, but I believe visas are usually per person, so you will have to get separate visas for your mother and child. I think you can look at the UAE website for the requirements and procedure.

  6. Hi po. I have this problem na offload na ako twice. First time ko lang kasi mag travel. So mean wala ako alam bout what document immigration need. First time lang din fiance ko so wala din syang alam sa mga papers na needed. Ngaun binigyan ako ng immigration ng maliit na papers na need ko na documents isa na ung invitaion letter. Kaso hirap kumuha ang fiance ko sa philippine embassy sa KL ng invitaion letter. My chance pa po ba ako makapunta sa KL if ever cfo lng at remittance and pic ang maipakita ko? Ayaw ko na kc ma-offload ulit. Hope to hear from u asap!..

    1. Hi Mimz!

      Siguro may maliit na chance na makakalusot ka sa Immigration with just yung CFO, remittance, and pictures. Pero sa tingin ko, it’s best talaga if gagawa ang fiance mo ng invitation letter, especially if sya ang gagastos sa trip mo.

      You can learn more about kung anong documents ang posibleng kakailanganin mo sa article na to:

      As much as possible, magdala ka na lang ng lahat ng documents na ipinadala sa yo ng IO before, para at least better yung chance mo na makalusot sa Immigration, kasi sayang din naman if ma-o-offload ka ulit. Good luck! 🙂

    2. Hi,share ko lng thoughts ko, bakit kelangan ng fiance kumuha invitation letter sa embassy? I guess embassy has nothing to do with it.. invitation letter is coming from ur fiance as a proof his inviting you to come KL, i am a first timer also to fly abroad, and i dont have cfo either but i didnt have any problem at clark airport immigration just last week.. im in sweden now ☺

  7. Ang sabi lng sakin ng IO is invitation letter which is kelangan yellow or red ribbon mean need pa dumaan sa embassy.. then remittance and pic then xerox copy ng passport nung sponsor then roundtrip ticket.. kaso di siya makakuha ng invitation letter na silyado ng embassy.. di na kc katulad ng dati na pwedeng gumawa by own.. by the salamat sayo smalltown girl and anne..

  8. Greetings to all. Thank you Ms. Smalltown for this very useful information.
    My concern is I’m going to travel HK next month, I’ve been in Taiwan and HK before as a worker. And been here in Philippines last February, resigned from work. I’m a married woman but been seperated for 9 yrs and not yet annul. I have a foreign boyfriend wants to meet me in HK he’s from New Zealand. I booked only round trip tickets since I’m going to stay with him for 1 week. I only have a pocket money since he will be the one to provide everything when i am already there.
    OMG!!! Feeling ko kc maoofload ako after reading all the postings. Would the IO allow me to meet my boyfriend even though w/o proof that I am legally separated? What can you suggest for me to do? Thank you in advance… 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Hi Belle! Honestly, I also don’t know what to do in your case because you’re still legally married. If I were in your shoes, I probably just wouldn’t mention the boyfriend to the IO and just book a hotel that can be cancelled for free. (You can search for hotels with free cancellation here:

  9. Hi everyone!

    Comments are closed as I am currently very busy with work. Please review the article and read through the other comments to look for situations similar to yours. I wish there were more hours in the day so I have enough time for all the things that are important to me: family, work, this blog, etc. But since that’s not possible, this is the best I can do. 🙂 Have a wonderful day!