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Day 3 - Trip to the Philippines During Pandemic - Swab Test

We had about a 4 hours layover in Narita Japan airport. It was about 2:00pm local time. The airport was so quiet, understandably due to the pandemic. I was hoping to get something to nibble on Japanese style but all the stores are closed.

Anyways, this trip has been so much to deal with. If someone travelled this far plus during the pandemic - halfway there probably decided to go back home. This was a tough one.

Upon arrival at Narita Japan - on our way out, I saw the sign with my flight number heading Manila - he asked - Ms. West!? I said Yes, - this way. There were only 3 of us on this flight heading to Manila. At the counter, the lady asked again all sorts of questions. "Do you have a pre-booked hotel in Manila for quarantine?" I said "no"! "Well, in order for you to board, you will need to book a hotel". With her tiny Japanese voice, I said "I still have to fly out to Domestic when I get there and I will quarantine when I get to my home" She said, no you cannot do that. It is mandatory to quarantine in Manila before you fly outbound domestic flights". At this time, I was really mad and wanted to cry.

She turned her desktop to me and had me booked a hotel right there for 10 days quarantine beginning June 19th is the 1st day. I had no choice but to do it, otherwise they would have me turn back to the USA. At this time, it was 2:00am USA time, exhausted.

I booked at Kabayan Hotel in Pasay City, this place was recommended by Ate MM who I met at Dallas airport during boarding. She is from Iloilo City. It is good to have someone you can chat with and at the same time, however sometimes an ally will somehow distract your judgements.

Get ready with more annoyances in Manila airport! Upon arrival at Ninoy International Airport it was about 9:45pm local time - which would be 9:45am USA EST. All arriving passengers have to fall in line for quarantine screening. Guards, wheelchair assistants, Martials are around so busy with their medical gown, mask and face shield. Completely different set-up than in Japan.

At this point, I knew that I would be going to the hotel for at least a 7 day quarantine, might as well just go with the flow. First we went through passport check and declaration, then went through a big, very bright light - scanning your body for whatever... then another hand waving at you to go this way.

There was a big glass room full of people waiting with papers in their hands. The Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory where no one can exit on this floor without paying PHP4,000.00 to book your RT-PCR test on the 7th day.

You know when something isn't right!

What happened was, when I left I've done a little research - that the swab test is done upon arrival at NAIA but it isn't! When I left, I completed the online registration through Philippine Red Cross. It asked me to register online, put all my personal information so when you get here, they will stick that swab in your nose and you are all set! Surprised! The Philippine Red Cross is nowhere to be found - none! The rules change everyday; the rules change based on what is suited for their pockets! I am mad.

And because Manila is not my final destination, I still have to fly out to domestic route with Cebu Pacific the next day! That isn't enough reason to be exempted for 10 day quarantine in Manila! Ugh!

At this point, it was about 11:45pm (exhausted). I talked to one of the agents at Quarantine begging if they could let me quarantine at my house in Dumaguete. He forwarded me to the BOQ Physician on duty. He provided me with a little cut out paper with an email address - saying email them with your request - asking them to give you an exemption to quarantine in Manila. I thought to myself, there is a hope.

June 20, 2021 at 12:01am local time, Ate MM and I took a cab to our hotel (exhausted). We know that we are going to be quarantined - meaning you cannot go out, do or get something. We asked the driver to stop at 7-11 for us to get something to eat. We were hungry and tired. As soon as I get in my room... I called my husband in the USA and provided an update - he felt sorry for what I've gone through. I said I am okay but I wasn't really okay. I was frustrated with the whole thing.

Even if I was so tired, I wrote an email to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) hoping to get an exemption. They asked me to provide the following documents for review, not guaranteed:

  1. Letter of Intent

  2. Copy of covid-19 vaccination

  3. Copy of negative test from 72 hours ago

  4. Itinerary

  5. Personal details

  6. Copy of my itinerary to domestic flights

I provided them with all the documents requested on the same day, but I didn't get a response. The following day, June 21, 2021, I emailed them again to follow up. But I didn't get a response. Waiting and waiting, until 2 hours prior to departing Cebu Pacific flight to Dumaguete, I went and rebooked my ticket before I lost all my money.

The next day, June 22, 2021, no response and finally on June 24, 2021 - I got an email from them stating - I am disapproved! After reading the email, I was fuming; I wanted to cry.

While I waited for 4 days, I had the feeling that my request would be denied. I wrote a response to them - expressing my disappointment.

In the past 4 days watching local news on TV nothing was making sense as far as the covid-19 protocol here in the Philippines

In the USA, if you've been vaccinated, you no longer need to wear masks, here it looks like this is so new to them, it's like covid-19 just landed yesterday! Hello!? The rules kept changing, they cannot make up their mind on what to do.

Strict but it's out of place! Hello!? Again, your covid-19 cases have gone up! Wake up you people! Which means something isn't working! How about trying something different. I know there are rules, but there are also exemptions in a proven case.



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