Little Miss Drama

My Trip to Jordan: Why I Was Not Allowed to Fly the First Time Around

on July 26, 2013

This is a very late post. I said I’d blog about it back in January but due to many reasons, I was unable to. That is, only until now…

Last January, the company I work for, which is UAE-based, booked me a flight to Amman, Jordan for a business trip because we just opened an office there and I had to train all of our new researchers there on how to go about our work. I was supposed to stay for a month there, with a few goals in  my mind.

Naturally I was excited because it is a new place. I have never been to anywhere in Jordan prior to this trip so I was also looking forward on the new experience I was about to have there. I don’t know anyone else in Amman aside from the colleagues whom I have not personally met yet. We have only been communicating through emails for the past few months regarding our work.

The Abu Dhabi office was advised by the consulate in Manila on the necessary documents I would need to present at the airport so I thought I was all set to leave last January 4. I was early at the airport. I was there even before 7am, I think because our car was coding that day. My flight was still around 11am. I already checked in my luggage and proceeded directly at the Immigration. The officer at the counter asked me so many things: why I’m going there, for how long will I stay there, where will I exactly stay, etc. until she eventually asked me to go to one of the Immigration officers on the left side.

I knew it was not a good sign but I remained composed the entire time.

Two officers on the table were still busy talking to the other passengers who. like myself, were also asked to go there and explain why we were going to where we were supposed to go, etc. I just stood there waiting when one guy asked me about my “case”. I told him a few things and he said I should talk to one of the lady officers sitting behind the table. And I did.

I explained my “case”. I told them I am working as a freelance researcher for a UAE-based company and we just opened an office in Amman and my bosses wanted me to go there to train our new hires. I showed the lady officer the invitation letter I got from the company in Amman, the hotel booking for my accommodation, the tickets that I have (I have a return ticket because I was really only to stay there for a month!), and the stamped visa on my passport (which should already mean that the Bureau of Immigration had no business in stopping me from flying to Amman because I was given a damn visa!). Okay, I’m starting to get upset again while narrating all these because I really find it illogical and at the same time ridiculous that they would still stop anyone from flying to one country despite the fact that he/she was already provided a visa. Isn’t that the reason why someone has to apply for a visa for some countries in the first place?? Because the government or consulate of that country does the checking first if you are even permissible to go to their country and that you have provided all the necessary documents their government was asking for you to be able to support yourself on the entire duration of your trip! Otherwise, then just let our freakin’ Bureau of Immigration decide that for every passenger since they think they are “gods” who can decide on one’s fate.

Anyway, back to my story…

The lady officer was asking me for an invitation letter from the company in UAE which of course I could not present because the consulate of Jordan here in Manila didn’t inform us that this was also required for me to show them. She kept saying she could not let me fly unless I have that as well as an endorsement letter from the UAE company. I was really started getting upset that I started talking fluently in English to the lady officer. I do that when I’m really angry (or drunk).

I was asked to fill out a form where it asks me how much pocket money I have with me (which is quite weird yet I declared it) and also asked me for my student ID number back when I was in college (again, I don’t know why they would even ask that and how it’s related to anyone from being stopped to fly)! The lady officer told me she also graduated from UP (like I care!) and that as much as she wanted to allow me to take my flight she really couldn’t because she said that there was a recent ban for Filipinos in Jordan due to all the protests that happened a few months back and that the ban was just recently lifted and that I need to present more documents. She asked me to present two more documents once I re-book my flight so that they would also lift the ban they had on me on their computer. Great. Just great.

She also said she would call her boss to ask about my situation. While she was on the phone, I also called my bosses in UAE. I informed one of my bosses what happened and to inform the driver who was supposed to pick me up from the airport that I won’t be arriving anytime soon. When the lady officer got back to me, she said there was really nothing they can do for me.

Okay, let me just say this. Our Bureau of Immigration is known for having corrupt employees. There have been personal stories I have heard before about under the table operations. Somehow I felt at that time that all they were waiting for me was to make an offer to negotiate things (especially after declaring how much money I had with me which by the way includes my accommodation rent for a month).  But I’m not crazy to do anything illegal so I went home filled with so much disappointment and frustration from this bureau of our government.

Once home, I emailed our HR Department in Abu Dhabi regarding the documents I needed according to the Bureau of Immigration in NAIA. First was the endorsement letter from the main office (based in UAE) stating that I am their employee and the reasons as to why I would need to go to Amman in Jordan, who will provide my ticket and accommodation as well as my trip duration. Second was the invitation letter from the company in Amman which should be attested in the Philippine Embassy in Jordan.

I thought again that accomplishing these document would just be a breeze. Hah! Think again!

It took a week before my colleague in Jordan could go to the Philippine Embassy there due to heavy snow fall at that time. Once he was there, one Filipino employee at the embassy informed my Jordanian colleague that they DO NOT attest invitation letters. Out of frustration, my colleague called me and asked me to speak with this guy (who by the way was very arrogant!). I just want to say that some Filipinos who work in the government abroad are mostly like this. Just like the Bureau of Immigration, they think they are “gods” who can decide one’s fate.

Anyway, I explained to the guy about my case and what the Immigration asks me to accomplish. I said all of these in our native language which is Filipino. This was how he replied: “Eh hindi namin ginagawa yan.” (“We don’t do that” in reference to attesting the invitation letter). Naturally I asked him, “Then how come this  was what the Immigration told me to do if you’re not doing this process in the first place?” Again, I started talking in English because I was getting upset with this arrogant guy. He answered, “Eh ewan ko miss kung bakit yan ang sinabi nila sa’yo” (“Well I don’t know, miss, why they told you that.”) And he hung up on me!

Aaaaarrrrggghhhh!!! I was fuming mad. My colleague called me again and I told him to wait for my email and that I will try to contact the Bureau of Immigration here to clarify this matter.

After we hang up, I already looked for ways on how to contact the Bureau of Immigration as well as the Philippine Embassy in Jordan to clarify the matter.

I was able to talk to one person from the Bureau of Immigration because the number of the office that I called was open 24/7. I got the number from the Bureau of Immigration’s website. The woman I talked to gave me a different number to call the next day during office hours. At the same time, I found the website of the Philippine Embassy in Jordan and I immediately sent them an email on two email addresses posted on their website. Exactly after two days, I got a reply in my email from the Ambassador herself. I was surprised and at the same time impressed that at least between these two branches of the government, someone is actually doing her job. Her name is Ambassador Olivia Palala and to her I will be forever be grateful for.

The next few days, I was in constant communication via email with Ambassador Palala. She explained what my colleague in Jordan should do to acquire the necessary documents that we need. In the end, instead of an attested invitation letter (which will never happen because the embassy does not do that as a process as I were explained to), the ambassador coordinated with Bureau of Immigration on the needed documents on my re-booked flight and also talked to our HR Department to ensure our office is a legal company.

After two weeks of all the hassle I faced at NAIA, I was back there again to test the “gods” of the Bureau of Immigration if they will let me fly this time around. The Immigration officer at the counter again asked me to go to the left side and talk to the other lady officer by the table. I informed the lady officer (who is a different person from my first encounter on January 4, by the way) about what previously happened. She checked their record, checked my documents and asked me for the letter that the good ambassador has issued as well as the part of the email wherein the ambassador stated the documents I needed to present prior to my flight.

Alas. I was able to go to Jordan and I stayed there for 26 days to carry out the work I was assigned to do.

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One response to “My Trip to Jordan: Why I Was Not Allowed to Fly the First Time Around

  1. This info is priceless. How can I find out more?

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