Jesus, St. Jude, and I (The Conclusion)
"There was another passenger earlier who was rejected by Immigration since she had no clearance-letter. I’m afraid I cannot book you on this flight.”
Several images crossed my mind the moment I heard this:
I could be checking-in at the Pan Pacific Hotel nearby the airport, wait for Monday and hopefully things get sorted out with Immigration;
I try the airport-immigration and when they find that I’ve no clearance-letter, they shove me into the immigration office, get interrogated, and possibly jailed for trying to leave the country without their clearance.
But then I thought, I’m a Filipino. We are known to be more astig than the locals wherever we may be. “Unahan lang sa sindak yan,” a colleague in Singapore once told me. So, I took a deep breath and said to the lady at the check-in counter:
“NO! That letter is not needed! Immigration has already rescheduled my visa-expiry to an earlier date so that means they have checked and found nothing pending from my end.”
She paused, lifted her landline, and called to whom I assumed to be her manager. She then covered the mouthpiece and told me,
“Here’s what you can do. I will book you BUT I will not check-in your baggages for an hour. That will be enough time for me to assume that immigration has ok’ed you to travel.”
I agreed. I would have to proceed immediately to immigration which meant skipping my intended McDo breakfast meal (darn).
On my way to the escalator leading down to immigration, I was getting worried. “What if I get rejected and sent back? I would have to stay here over the weekend?” I told myself.
In that moment, I remembered St. Jude.
It was on the previous night when I was packing all the rest of our stuff from the condo that I came upon a stampita of St. Jude. At the back it said something like, Patron of Lost Causes. I never gave that much notice as I put it in one of my baggages until now. This seems to be classified as a lost cause, so why not try?
So as I was walking, I called on St. Jude to intercede for this no hope situation. “I sure hope he’s listening,” I thought.
The immigration-queue was fairly light. Not too many passengers traveling at lunch time since most of the flights are in the morning. I was in a queue with around 10 people with a tourist-couple at the front, seemingly unaware that one of the immigration officers was calling them to his counter so that the queue could move.
Seeing that the officer failed in calling the couple, I called the attention of the couple and pointed them to the waiting officer. They looked and went. The officer gave me a “thank you” look. Finally! The queue was moving and my fate was about to be determined.
Since there were 3 counters serving the queue, the choice of going to a particular officer was random. Then my turn came, and I was lucky to be put into where the tourist-couple went earlier.
I showed him my passport and browsed through the pages. “Don’t look at my visa!” I shouted to him in my mind, hoping he’ll hear. He found the visa-page of course. Then, as he was about to ask me something which I assumed to be asking for my immigration-letter, a female-colleague of his passed by and greeted him who seemed to have asked when he’ll finish his shift. This somehow lost his train of thought. He totally forgot about what he was supposed to ask and with his right hand, grabbed the immigration stamp.
A stamp on the immigration card.
A stamp on my passport.
He signed on both stamps and handed me my passport. I was free to travel.
I thanked the officer and, in tradition to my Dad’s PR skills, I asked him how long has he been working on his shift.
“12 hours,” he said, his eyes showing bags wanting to release sand-dust of sleep.
“I think you better go home. Get some rest.”
“Yes I will. Tired already lah.”
I said goodbye to him and passed the immigration counters. It felt like a big burden has been lifted. Never have I been so relieved to have passed by airport-immigration in my entire life!
These past two weeks have been hell alright. Malaysia must’ve been going to miss me so much that she pulled all the stops to make me stay. Of course, Manila is where I want to be.
There was one final issue 2 hours before my flight: I had 400 ringgit worth of notes in my wallet that had to be left behind, and a hungry stomach that needed to be fed.
Next stop: Duty-free shopping and Sbarro’s.