“Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho” was being shown on GMA PinoyTV (a Filipino Television station) while I was busy fiddling my phone. I was barely looking on the screen and half listening when one of their segment caught my attention.
It’s about a Filipina who was suspected as a drug mule and was held by the Indonesian immigration for several hours. That brought back a somewhat similar (but not quite) incident that happened to me when I went to Batam, Indonesia to accompany my brother’s family for a day tour.
The Indonesian immigration official thought that I was using the trip as a form of exit in order to get my passport stamped with another month to stay in Singapore. He led me to an office for an “interrogation” in which I calmly explained that legally, I’m allowed to stay in Singapore for a maximum of one-month after the cancellation of my work pass.
I further mentioned that I’m going back to the Philippines in three weeks time, showed my flight itinerary, and the cancellation of my work pass. Unfortunately, I don’t have the letter that states that I can stay in Singapore for one-month.
As a result, the immigration officer was eyeing me like I’ve done something horrible and I felt like he’s silently telling me that I’m a threat to the national security. Ok, I was paranoid… but that’s how I felt when he was looking at me. The little tigress in me wanted to scratch his face and scamper away. However, my Philippine passport reminded me not to act like a neanderthal… hence, I controlled my boiling temper and met his eyes with a cool and composed aura.
I informed the officer that I need to hustle because my relatives were waiting for me and I don’t want to be the cause of delay of our one-day package tour. To speed up the process, I seek permission to use their internet connection so that I can show the information (found in the Ministry of Manpower website) needed to clear the air. Sadly, the internet connection sucks to the highest level! 😦
The immigration officer can’t seem to stand my incessant query as to why they don’t have internet connection so he referred me to another immigration officer. The second immigration officer led me outside and apologized for the poor “nonexistent” Internet connection. I looked at him with “it’s absolutely bizarre!” plastered on my face.
We went outside to check if the signal is better. Using his blackberry, we were able to find a hotspot but the speed was terribly sloooooow. After half an hour, I was still stuck in the Immigration area and by then, the tour guide appeared. I explained the situation and expressed my exasperation about the Internet connection in that port. The immigration officer seemed to take it as a cue and went to look for a computer with a “stable” connection. After 15 minutes, he led me to a different office and told me to use the laptop that he borrowed.
In less than two minutes, I showed the Ministry of Manpower website and the section which states that I can stay in Singapore for 30-days. The first officer had a serious look on his face while stamping and returning my passport. I was grinning mischievously and triumphantly while I took back my passport. Thank goodness the issue was handled in a mature fashion otherwise I could have been deported if I allowed the barbaric side of me to control the situation. Ha!