How The Philippine Bureau of Immigration Almost Ruined My Malaysia and Singapore Tour

Philippine bureau of immigration

I don’t usually post rants or any negative issues here on my travel blog, but this one deserves a special space here.

The Preparation

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 online our hostel accommodations and planned out well our Malaysia and Singapore itinerary, prior to the trip. We were all set and just excited for the day of our tour.

The night before our 1PM flight the next day, I printed out our tickets, itinerary, photocopies of our IDs, etc., just in case the immigration authorities will look for it.

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 to fix everything should any problem arise. We had a smooth transaction at the check-in and travel tax counters. Also,  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.

Around 12 in the afternoon, 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 how much was my salary as an SEO Specialist, which I answered honestly.  Afterwards he asked me about my credit cards and HMO cards, then went back looking at my itinerary and asked when did I book my ticket. 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 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.   Later on that same day, she booked me separately after I responded with my information, thus why I have my own itinerary. This should never been a big issue because I had all the required documents and roundtrip tickets and it was very clear 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 in queue  for the second immigration interview. By this time, I just kept calm because I didn’t want to entertain any negativity in my mind.

Patiently Waiting for the Second Immigration Interview

It was around 12 noon and I was still in the long  queue, so I went to my friends who smoothly passed that 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 this 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 rebooking my expensive ticket to Kuala Lumpur amounting Php 4,950.00 plus Php 900.00 for the extra baggage. But I’m still thankful that I was able to flight late that night after so many hassles that I experienced in the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.

Will I Travel Again Outside Philippines?

Yes, of course! The road is my only home and travel is my first love. If anything bad that happens I’ll treat it as a great experience. I know I learned something about it. Keep the positivity and travel. 

Read also: Backpacking Malaysia & Singapore: 5-Day Itinerary, Cost Breakdown & Highlights

Author: Vinz

Vinz is a part-time travel blogger, part-time digital marketing specialist, and full-time dreamer. He loves the photographic medium for expressing what he loves about life. He always finds himself lost during travel. But he loves unfamiliar territories and finding his way around. Aside from his taste for adventure, he loves two things while traveling - meeting new friends and food.

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  1. I know how dreadful ur experienced was, I had the same experienced with a friend, we were going to HK. I got smoothly with the BIs here, but my friend was questioned and detained at the counter. We all have our roundtrip tickets, hotel and tour printouts and all paid before our trip. But bec he was a transgender, he was questioned. Even if he has money to support his tour, they still did it. It’s a discrimination in our own country. I’m a housewife, but bec my husband work abroad I was not interrogated. It’s so insane and nerve wrecking experience that I wouldn’t wish to anyone.

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    • Hi Apol, thanks for sharing your experience! I’m glad that both of you still made it after the hassle you’d experienced.

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      • I was going to Malaysia for a 1-year overseas assignment. I arrived a few minutes late compared to my other 2 companions so I got separated from them while we were queuing for the immigration. All things related to my travel (tickets, documents, accommodation, expenses, etc) were prepared by my company. Still, the immigration asked a lot of questions and some of them were already really annoying. The officer even asked for a picture of my office! My companions were able to pass and I told the officer my companions are already inside the boarding area but I was stopped and asked to fill out a very long document and then I underwent another round of interview. I was not able to board my flight and ended up having to use my boyfriend’s credit card (in USD!) just to pay for another ticket on the following day since that was the last flight for the day. I hope I can have that reimbursed. And oh, on the second day, I was there really early, almost 2 hours before the check-in counter opened. BUT, the immigration lines were so long I was worried the whole time I may not get on the plane on time. Good thing there were no issues anymore, but by the time I finished, it was just right for boarding time. Sucks! An improvement should be done there.

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  2. though it could have a terrible story but luckli passed the problem. after all i think you enjoyed your time in malaysia and singapore, isn’t it? thanks for sharing your experiences.

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