A Filipina who boarded the Dubai to Manila flight on June 7, 2020 shared her travel experience for OFWs who wish to go back home already.
“I know madami nagtatanong what’s the current situation in the Philippines. How’s the quarantine experience like? May swab test ba talaga? May bayad and all?” Lalaine Ortiz Lacerna shared on her Facebook account.
Step 1 – So, here it is, finally! After three flight cancellations (Philippine Airlines, Emirates and Cebu Pacific), after all the heartbreaks, numerous calls and being under a long waiting list, I have decided to get a special flight because I was already desperate to go home. Based on my investigation, these kinds of flights are not usually announced by airlines on their website. With a help from a friend who happens to be working in a travel agency, I was booked to an earlier date. Lesson learned: try and try until you succeed.
Step 2 – To make the long story short, my flight was delayed for more than three hours. But I told myself that it was fine, the most important thing is that I will flying back home. This was the very moment when I was already full of positivity and energy.
Step 3 – And, finally, this is the moment! You’ll just thank the Lord because of your excitement!
Step 4 – The plane has just taken off and I was already eating! I have decided not to eat during my eight-hour flight because I was already paranoid and making sure I will not take my mask off inside the aircraft.
Step 5 – They have a free hygiene kit!
Step 6 – Touchdown, Philippines! We’ve landed at 11:30am / June 8. We were greeted by the Philippine Coast Guard team, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and Red Cross representatives. They did the briefing on what to expect during our arrival in the Philippines. All are explained thoroughly. I felt that we were treated well and nicely. Everything was organized. Job well done, Philippines!
Step 6 – And this is what I really like the most! You can see a lot of this roaming around, disinfecting the areas, hallways, chairs, walls, etc. For me, this is an assurance that we are safe. Social distancing is also maintained, the airport was not overcrowded. Again, I am impressed.
Step 7 – And the adventure begins. After the briefing, it’s time for Covid-19 swab test. All pregnant ladies, families, and children are on the priority lane. During the flight, I was surprised because about a hundred of the passengers are pregnant.
PS: Since I’m an OFW, the Covid-19 swab test was free. For tourist and student visas they need to pay at your own expense.
Step 8 – That moment when you’re already nervous (Covid-19 swab test). My experience: it wasn’t painful. It was maybe uncomfortable. Just hold your breath for five seconds, and then you’re done!
Step 9 – See? There wasn’t a long queue for immigration! No hassle at all.
Step 10 – Three hours after our arrival, it’s time for us to be taken to our designated hotels while waiting for the test result. This time, we didn’t have any clue which hotels were going to take us. For non-OFWs, they have a designated desk that will assist them and they will be asked which hotel they want to wait for the result. The volunteers will show them a list of hotels where they want to stay with the corresponding price. Unfortunately, non-OFWs will pay for that.
Step 11 – Ladies, there’s no need to worry about carrying those heavy stuff. The drivers are willing to help you so you just have to enjoy the ride and the free packed meals provided by OWWA!
Step 12 – I told the driver to handle my TV set with care and he just put it beside me!
Step 13 – Social distancing is also observed inside the bus.
Step 14 – Thank God because someone is selling sim cards inside the bus which is priced at Php100. The driver is selling globe and smart sim cards! Just make sure you’ve changed your dirhams at the airport because when you’re inside the hotel, they will never allow you to go outside.
Step 15 – This time, we were brought to two wrong hotels. I already felt tired this moment because it’s been three hours already since we were travelling on the bus! It was hot, you feel sleepy and hungry at the same time but I still managed to take a selfie!
Step 16 – And here we are finally! And because we were waiting inside the bus, we noticed that the hotel was short-staffed. It was like 2 staff against 300 check-in guests. Lesson learned: just don’t complain because it’s pandemic almost every business is short-staffed! The important thing is you can sleep properly.
Step 17 – This guy caught my attention. And because we’re too bored while waiting for the bus, this guy seemed so tired carrying all the baggage.
Step 18 – And because we felt pity for him, we gave him a tip. We’ve all volunteered to give a small amount because we know how tired he was.
Step 19 – Tadaaa! It was all worth it! I was assigned to a suit room. After signing check-in papers, we were assisted in our assigned room.
Step 20 – Spacious and clean room.
Step 21 – You can take a bubble bath!
Step 22 – I have my own cabinet!
Step 23 – The room has a fridge, TV set, and it’s complete!
Step 24 – Free food and water.
Step 25 – Free breakfast.
Step 26 – Free lunch.
Step 27 – Free dinner.
Step 29 – Yes, you’ll eat here three times per day.
Step 30 – You can also request food delivery just in case you missed the fast food here.
Step 31 – Free delivery by Food Panda.
Step 32 – This is really important! Because we’ve waited for almost six hours before we get to our hotels and almost all our devices have run out of battery already. Remember to bring this with you.
Step 33 – I forgot to mention earlier, during the final briefing, we were asked to follow this Facebook page because the Covid-19 test results will be published here.
Step 34 – And finally, after four days! Rumor has it that they release the result immediately! I got my result and it felt like passing a board exam because of the excitement. I am super thankful and blessed and the experiences I had taught me so many things:
1. Don’t complain because God is preparing things and it will happen in the right time.
2. Trust his will. If you believe that God is with you in your journey, don’t ask and never question because he has plans for you. It was, indeed, a better plan.
3. Be patient. Everything happens for a reason. I now understand that my previous flights have been cancelled because He doesn’t want me to experience what others have experienced.
4. Be thankful and share your blessing!
Step 35 – For your information, this certificate was given to us at Paranaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX). For those NCR residents, you can ask your family members to fetch you.