Hunger Games of Immigration Officers (Part 1)


Bituin – A Filipino exiting the country on tourist visa.
Mr. B – Immigration officer. Dark, a bit heavy, hard-featured. He wears earphones.
Ms. B – Immigration Staff. Very fair, medium size and height, long hair, chinky eyes.

March 2012 Mid-morning


Bituin enters the immigration area and stands in the snake-like line. She makes a mental review of her check-list. Baggage check-in, done. 1,620 peso (Dhs 135) travel tax, paid. 750 pesos (Dhs 62) terminal fee, paid. She tries to hide her agitation as she gets closer and closer to the immigration windows.

Bituin – (Whispers to herself) Relax. Confidence. Breathe. So help me, God.

The man ushering the line looks at her and signals her to Window 3.

The Immigration officer scans her documents.

Mr. B – What is your relation to your sponsor?

Bituin – She is my cousin.

Mr. B – You do not have the same surname.

Bituin – I have an Affidavit of Proof of Relation attached in there to show how we are related.

Mr B. ignores her statement, not really looking at the papers she presented.

Mr. B – You don’t have the same surname.

Bituin – If you look at the affidavit it provides a family tree and traces…

Mr. B – (Cuts her short) Go to that room and give this papers to the lady.

He adjusts his earphones and jots down something on her passport and visa.


Ms. B flips Bituin’s passport with one hand and grips her cellphone with the other. She opens the passport to the first page and studies the photo.

Ms. B – (Very slowly) Yes, this picture is you. (Slowly turns to page 2) Not valid for travel to Iraq. Do you know this?

Bituin – Yes, but I am not flying to Iraq. I am flying to Dubai, to the Middle East.

Ms. B – Ok. (Turns to page 3 and points at the stamps of her previous travel) You flew to Malaysia as a tourist and didn’t come back on your date of arrival.

Bituin – Yes, but I still came back when I finally got a job back here in the Philippines.

Ms. B – What is your job here? Where is your ID?

Bituin shows her ID.

Ms. B – How much is your salary? Where is your receipts of salary?

Bituin – I earn 8,000 pesos and in the province they do not give a receipt of salary. They pay me in cash.

Ms. B – Ok.

She continues flipping through her passport and comes back to the page of the stamps.

Ms. B – Do you see this red stamp here? This shows that you had an illegal entry. What did you do in Malaysia?

Bituin feels that whatever she says, there is no correct answer.

Bituin – Whatever happened during that time is the responsibility of the agency that hired me and for which I paid for. I will honestly tell you, I worked in Malaysia. During that time, I just followed instructions entering this immigration. They called me while I was here in the airport and they gave me instructions and I just followed. But that was two years ago.

Ms. B slowly sits back and looks straight at her.

Ms. B – So what are we going to do about this?

Bituin knows this question is the pre-requisite to grease money.

Bituin – (Swallows her fears and speaks boldly) Ma’am, I will not pay you or bribe you with any money because all my papers are genuine and complete.

Ms. B –  (Turns all red and angry) So what are we going to do then? I cannot erase this on your passport. I cannot let you go. I know you will go to Dubai and look for a job there. You already did it once in Malaysia, you can do it again.

Bituin – What happened in Malaysia was two years ago. If during that time, you said I was let go illegally this time I have all my complete and genuine papers.

Ms. B –  What are you going to do in Dubai?

Bituin – I am going as a tourist. Whatever is written there in my visa is what I am going to do. This trip is a gift from my cousin. I have letters of invitation both from her and the agency that provided my visa. They are all there.

Ms. B – How much is your pocket money?

Bituin – I have 10 thousand pesos. But I need that money because I am going as a tourist. My sponsor will provide my accommodation and food. This money is for my shopping.

Ms. B – So what are we going to do then?

Bituin – (Looks at her watch) We need to let me go because I am about to miss my flight.

Ms. B – (Raises her voice) Why will I let you go?

Bituin – All my papers are complete. What else do you want me to answer?

Ms. B – (Browses her documents for a while) This is your sponsor? When was the last time she came home?

Bituin –  January.

Ms. B – What is her work?

Bituin – She is a freelance artist supported by her husband.

Ms. B – How much does her husband earn?

Bituin – Attached in there is his salary certificate. If you just look at it.

Ms. B – Your surname is not the same with your cousin.

Bituin –  Attached also in there is the affidavit of blood relation tracing our family tree, signed and notarized.

Ms. B –  (Quickly scans the top paper but doesn’t look at the attachments) I do not understand what is written here.

Biutin –  All my papers are in English, how can you not understand? If you just read them, then you can ask me what you do not understand.

Ms. B – How much is your pocket money?

Bituin – I am holding 10 thousand now. But I already paid for all these documents, my taxi coming here and all the taxes required.

Ms. B – So what will we do then?

Bituin – Just let me go, please. I already answered all your questions.

Ms. B gets a form for basic information and told her to fill it up and sign. Bituin accomplishes the form and hears her flight being called out.

Bituin –  Can I go now?

Ms. B: (Grabs the form from her and writes down notes) I will write here that if you will not return on your flight date, our agencies in Dubai will go and haunt you and catch you. We will have your sponsor and her husband terminated from their jobs and they can never come back to the Philippines or travel in any country.

Bituin feels a powerful rage about to come out of her. She closes her eyes and pushes back the tears of anger, fear, degradation and frustration. She whispers a prayer and garners all the strength she had left.

Bituin – Can I go now?

To be continued…


10 thoughts on “Hunger Games of Immigration Officers (Part 1)

  1. hi po.. ask ko lang if until now may ganyan parin sa immigration? ang daming question pala?anung mga docs talaga ang need po.. thanks


  2. Reading this makes me sick. Coming back to the Philippines 2 weeks ago, I have experienced how crooked immigration officers could be.

    The man stamping the passports in entering the Philippines almost held up my child because according to him, he was born illegitimate. I had to lecture him on Family law and how I have full custody of my child. And besides, it doesn’t even make sense because we were “entering” the country. Not leaving.


    1. MY OH MY! That is so ridiculous and annoying! Good thing you know where you stand, I imagine you giving a parenting seminar there and then. Haha. Kakagigil sila!


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