I’ve read some of the nightmares of first timer Filipino travelling abroad. As my mind trying to digest the horrendous experiences, my heart seemed anxious and edgy that I might suffer the same fate when I come face to face with the Nazi-like immigration officers (IOs) at the airport. My travel partner, Diana, had her share of some agonizing and terrorizing moments at their hands for more than fifteen minutes when she made her first international travel.
Equipped with some learning insights, dressed in semi-fit shirt, a short pants and tennis shoes with a camper’s backpack, I confidently walked towards the immigration officer one high noon of 27th November, 2014. I was good at faking my emotion and throw my nervousness at the back stage as I drew near his cubicle.
Contrary to some dreaded experiences, mine was just a breeze. Perhaps it was just a beginner’s luck as we may call it. The immigration officer only asked me three questions and I got my first stamp in my passport. Let me transcribe that less than 3-minute conversation with the IO.
Me: Good afternoon sir! (Handing over my passport with my printed flight details and hotel booking confirmation)
IO: Just stared at me blankly. Where are you going?
Me: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Singapore.
IO: What are you gonna do there?
Me: We will be doing an international bench-marking as part of our final requirement for our masteral degree (pointing to my travel partner – Diana) while flashing my two valid IDs – Accenture and Cebu Institute of Technology – University.
IO: Looking at my IDs and passport he asked, do you have credit card?
Me: No I dont own one. I have cash. My left hand carrying my wallet and ready to flash it in front of him if the event if he would ask the amount. To my surprise he just smiled and put a stamp on my passport.
I think immigration officers are just doing their job. If they find your personality or demeanor questionable, though may sound bias, they will surely ask you more questions to make sure you have the good and right intent of travelling. A tip though, make sure you look confident and prepare for the worst so that you wont be shocked if you are asked some questions that you didnt anticipate. Moreover, have all your travel documents such as return flight details, hotel confirmation and your plans in doing in the country that you would like to visit and explore.
My experience with immigration has been satisfactory and it prompted me to travel some more. However, at the back of my mind, where will my 1600 travel tax and 750 international airport terminal fee go? Hmm. Let’s find out soon…