After the reported fiasco of a Filipina tourist being asked lengthy and ‘unreasonable’ questions, including a demand to present her 10-year old-graduation yearbook, at the Philippine immigration, a 25-year-old vlogger and Filipino tourist arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on Friday wearing a toga or academic regalia worn in graduation ceremonies.
“It was not meant to ridicule immigration officials but to highlight the fact that some Filipino tourists were held unreasonably at the airport and barred from leaving the country,” Jim Morales told Khaleej Times on Saturday.
“Someone brought a diploma; so, I brought a toga to be different,” added Morales, who came to the airport wearing a black toga and a mortarboard cap with a tassel while holding his luggage.
He posted his photo on his personal Facebook account and it immediately went viral, gaining around 3,000 funny reactions, and was shared over 1,300 times, with some people commenting: “It may look funny but it was [a commentary] on ‘ridiculous’ immigration officials. They asked for a graduation yearbook, and here’s someone who came in toga.”
Morales clarified he did not wear the attire at the immigration counter but he had made his point. “They might be offended,” he added in jest, but firmly explaining the parody was not aimed at mocking anyone but to highlight the “unreasonable stringent screening at the Philippine immigration.”
Update: ‘He graduated’
In keeping up with the humour, Morales posted a fresh photo of him on Saturday morning reaching his destination in Japan. Like in a graduation ceremony, he tossed the mortarboard cap and smiled gleefully while holding a ‘diploma’.
In his post, he wrote the caption translated as: “When you have surpassed the questioning of immigration authorities in the Philippines.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) has earlier clarified that Filipino tourists don’t need to bring their yearbooks to the airport. They also issued an apology and explained they were “constrained to implement strict measures to assess departing passengers” as part of their task to combat human trafficking.
According to Philippine Bureau of Immigration, a total of 32,404 Filipinos were deferred from departure last year. Of these, however, only 472 were reported to be victims of human trafficking or illegal recruitment, while 873 had produced fraudulent documents, and 10 travellers were found to be minors who sought to work abroad.
Dubai-based travel professional, Geoffrey Salatan, who is managing director at MRG Pinas Travel, said he had seen a lot of Filipinos who were denied from going abroad.
“Being offloaded from a flight is not only frustrating but also financially draining. Imagine how much time, money and effort these passengers have put into planning their journey, only to be stopped from boarding a plane?,” he added.
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