Sunday, December 18, 2022

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

Narrative / Perspective / Actual Experience who visited more than 130 Countries having Philippine Passport only

"What makes a worthy Filipino Traveller is his/her Philippine Passport" - Mang Andoy

 

According to Henly Passport Index of 2022, Philippine passport ranks 80th in the world (together with Cape Verde and Uganda) with only 67 visa-free countries. On the other hand, Republic of the Philippines granted visa-free privilege to Nationals from 157 countries for a period of stay of thirty (30) days or less.

The challenge of having weak passport like Philippines is terrifying especially for first time travellers and Solo Backpackers (even how frequent traveller we are). Actually the most horrifying part is going out of Philippine International Airport (all terminals). High probability to be offloaded, wasted bookings and itinerary if a single doubt occured to assigned Airport Immigration. Not just here in our Homeland but also almost throughout the international Airport with interaction to their Immigration Officers / Staff, their query is degrading and profiling. In my honest opinion, WHAT MAKES A FILIPINO TRAVELLER IS HIS / HER CAPABILITY TO TRAVEL HAVING A PHILIPPINE PASSPORT ONLY especially as Solo Backpacker to countries who profiled us as someone who thinks that we are not capable to finance our visit as tourist (of course, based on my experience).

HOW CHALLENGING IT IS TO TRAVEL WITH PHILIPPINE PASSPORT ONLY AS FILIPINO SOLO BACKPACKER:

(1) Heavy list of document to provide of more than 120 countries needed for Philippine Passport Travellers to apply for visa before arrival. Some of this horrible required documents are the following;

a. Passport validity should not be one year before expiry.
b. Fully completed and signed Visa application form.
c. Two recently taken photos (within the last three months) must be attached.
d. Travel insurance policy with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros in case of any medical emergency
e. Proof of accommodation. (hotel/hostel booking) / letter of invitation from host to stay
f. Proof of financial means (Bank account statement)
g. Visa fee of around 200 USD
h. Letter of Visa Application why you want to visit that country
i. Letter of Invitation from a travel tour agency
j. Return flight ticket to home country

- For First World Travellers, they will just buy an incoming flight ticket (no pre-arranged visa to apply with terrible list of required documents, no return flight, no fixed itinerary, no further interrogation, they enter airport with peace of mind and no chance to be offloaded).

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

(2) Heavy interrogation of Philippine (NAIA) Airport Immigration Officers. Actually this is the worst nightmare of aspiring Filipino travellers especially for Solo Backpackers and with blank / renewed passport. They will ask question per the following repeatedly while judging our appearance;

a. What are you going to do on that country / When are you going back
b. What place are you going to visit / Do you have someone / travelmate on going to that country
c. What is your work / How much did you bring /  Who funded your travel

There should be document evidences to prove your answers (print-out is better). If you just by any chance rattle or mistakenly responded to any of the questions. obviously you are suspicious to them that you are lying. Thus, there will be another interrogation in their private office. Our ultimate goal is to let down the suspicion of Immigration Officers by avoiding suspicious behaviors such as nervousness, rattle communication and absent-mindedness.

Based on the above among all the Airport Immigration Officers I encountered on my more than 133 countries, I confirm that the NAIA Officers are NOTORIOUS / TERROR in terms of off-loading a Filipino travellers. AS PHILIPPINE PASSPORT HOLDER ONLY, IT'S FREAKING HARD TO GO OUTSIDE OUR BELOVED HOMELAND JUST FOR LEISURE TRAVEL. 

- For First World Travellers, they will just buy an incoming flight ticket (no pre-arranged visa to apply with terrible list of required documents, no return flight, no fixed itinerary, no further interrogation, they enter airport with peace of mind and no chance to be offloaded).

(3) Heavy interrogation of International Airport Immigration Officers / Staff with the same set of questions per item (2). Additional nightmare of aspiring Filipino travellers especially for Solo Backpackers and with blank / renewed passport. They asked same set of question repeatedly while judging our appearance. Furthermore, since we look like a ship crew, ALL OF THEM always think we will go to this certain country to work. Our ultimate goal is to let down the suspicion of Immigration Officers by avoiding suspicious behaviors such as nervousness, rattle communication and absent-mindedness.

- For First World Travellers, they will just buy an incoming flight ticket (no pre-arranged visa to apply with terrible list of required documents, no return flight, no fixed itinerary, no further interrogation, they enter airport with peace of mind and no chance to be offloaded).

(4) High probability to be the subject of random inspection. Due to rampant population explotion and continous hardship to live of most of the 3rd world country residents, illegal immigrants (refugees) are everywhere. Thus, I've been subject of random immigration inspection due to my appearance as a typical 3rd world resident who seemed not capable to be a tourist. In Switzerland train station (2013), I was pre-selected to have a rigid inspection (my backpack was searched thoroughly up to underwear being publicly investigated). In Bulgaria (2015) train station at night, some roaming police suddenly asked my passport (only me among the waiting passengers).

- For First World Travellers, they will just buy an incoming flight ticket (no pre-arranged visa to apply with terrible list of required documents, no return flight, no fixed itinerary, no further interrogation, they enter airport with peace of mind and no chance to be offloaded).

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

How Challenging to have a Philippine Passport as Pinoy Solo Backpacker

SOME PERSONAL EXPERIENCES HOW WEAK IS THE PHILIPPINE PASSPORT

(1) I've been subject of pre-selected immigration inspection due to my appearance as a typical 3rd world resident who seemed not capable to be a tourist (illegal immigrant / refugee). In Switzerland train station (2013), I was stopped to have a rigid inspection (my backpack was searched thoroughly up to underwear being publicly investigated). In Bulgaria (2015) train station at night, some roaming police suddenly asked my passport (only me among the waiting passengers).

(2) On my way to crossboarder land travel between El Salvador and Honduras (2021), as usual, I was the always last one to board the bus due to unusual Philippine passport is using a United States B2 Visa as entry visa. I was the only passenger who required stamping on my passport that took the bus waited for long. Paid 3 USD as visa fee. 

(3) Eventhough I arrived early to boarding gate, the Dubai Airport (DXB) staff checked-in me late due he was not sure if Philippine Passport Holders are visa on arrival in Barbados despite the documents I presented. But before that, he interrogated me a lot as if he is an Airport Immigration Officer. But surprisingly in Barbados airport (BGI), I entered the country in less than 3 minutes by just immediately presenting the required documents (print-out) (2022).

(4) I jusy recently applied for Norway Schengen Visa for 2023 Winter Birthday get-away as Filipino Solo Backpacker with no work. Here is the list of the required documents (total of 80 pages) and payments I submitted.

a. Copies of current passport biopage and used pages (18 pages) 
b. Filled-out Harmonised Application Form (8 pages)
c. Travel Medical Insurance of at least 30,000 Euro (from Mastercard Gold) (15 pages)
d. Roundtrip flight ticket reservation (2 pages) 
e. Proof of funds (bank statement with statement of account) (6 pages)
f. Confirmation of hotel accommodation (2 pages)
g. Proof of ties, financial commitment (house, condo, investments) (19 pages)  
h. Detailed itinerary (1 page)
i. Previous copy of Schengen visas with entry / exit stamps (5 pages)
j. Appointment, Checklist and online receipt (4 pages)
k. Schengen visa fee of 80 Euro (PHP 4,919)
l. VFS service charge of PHP 2,047 (courier to Embassy and to home included)
m. processing time of 15 to 45 days since the Embassy is based abroad


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