Traveling Amidst Pandemic – Going Back Home (Philippines)

I went to the Philippines on October 17, 2020, when Coronavirus cases are slowly declining, Philippine’s Covid protocols are already established, and The Red Cross Philippines and the Philippine Government are having issues with debts and payment.

I don’t really have the intention of travelling, but my passport was expiring in November and the Philippine Consulate in Ghana doesn’t have authorization to process passport renewals. I had two options: option 1 is me sending my passport to Nigeria, and option 2 being me going home to renew my passport. I chose the latter.

I started preparing my documents a week before my departure. I did my online registrations and secured my negative Covid test result. When I landed in the Philippines, I did a mandatory Covid test at the airport, then I went to the OWWA area for my hotel allocation.

OWWA booth at NAIA Terminal 3

Outside the arrival gate, I met my mom. She was not allowed  inside the airport. She gave me food and some essentials to sustain me during my quarantine. She also took my check-in luggage so I don’t have a lot stuff to carry to the hotel.

A vehicle was arranged for us for our hotel transfer. My hotel was Citadines Bay City Manila. An OWWA personnel ,and a hotel representative briefed us on the protocols we need to adhere to while staying at the hotel. 

Hotel registration was made in the bus. One occupant per room policy was strictly imposed. Any special arrangements for food should be mentioned during registration process. Check in was made in batches to avoid crowding at the hotel’s facade. A bellman assisted us with our bags.

Hotel registration

On my 5th day, around 8:30am, I was woken up by a bellman because our transport is already downstairs and I was the only one they’re waiting for. I was told that the hotel representative tried reaching me around 5:00am to inform that I tested negative on my Covid test, and a vehicle will be waiting at the lobby at 8:00am to drop us at PITX (Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange) or NAIA Terminal 2. I quickly packed my things and took my bath. I was embarrassed, but for consolation, the bellman who assisted me said that it was not the first time that an OFW was late.

The bus passed by NAIA Terminal 2 first to drop those heading to Visayas and Mindanao before going to PITX to drop Luzon-bound OFWs. At PITX, buses were lined up, ready to take OFWs home. Before embarking on any bus, all OFWs are required to register at an OWWA booth depending on which region you are going.

OWWA bus

Since I have my service, as soon as I’m done with my registration and collected my food, I waited for my service and headed home.

For reference, here’s the process I went through:

Pre-arrival (At least a week before my intended arrival to the Philippines):
  • Pre-registered online for Covid swab test with Philippine Red Cross and took a screenshot of the QR code sent to my mail.
  • Obtained my Covid Test Result – Negative from an authorized agency. 
  • Reviewed policies and protocols of airports I will be departing, transiting, and arriving to. (Departure airport: Accra, Ghana; Transit airport: Dubai, UAE; Arrival airport: Manila, Philippines).
  • Reviewed my airline Covid protocols. (I travelled with Emirates Airlines).
  • Packed some clothes (good for 4 days) in my hand carry.
Departure from Ghana
  • Underwent mandatory temperature checks
  • Presented my valid Yellow Vaccine booklet at the entrance
  • Presented my Negative Covid Test result released within 98 hours before intended departure at the baggage check-in counter
Transit in Dubai
  • Went straight to the boarding gate
  • Wore my face shield
Arrival in the Philippines
  • Underwent thermal scanning and gave my health declaration form to a Philippine Coast Guard representative
  •  Took a photo of the issued code, which will be used to track my Covid result, for future reference
  • Queued for mandatory Covid Swab Test
  •  Presented my Philippine Red Cross QR code to the booth
  •  Did my swab test
  • Passed through immigration. Arrival form is duly filled.
  • Approached OWWA booth for hotel assignment and meal collection.
  • Collected my luggage at the carousel
Exiting the airport
  • Met my mom briefly. Took my baon from her: food (fruits and snacks) and essentials (toiletries, Philippine peso, SIM card since I do not have a roaming)
  • Boarded the bus to the hotel
  • Listened to OWWA briefing
Transfer to hotel and hotel policy
  • Did hotel registration on the bus. 
  • Listened to hotel policy briefing:

     – One occupant per room

     – No roaming around the hotel

     – No visiting rooms

     – All meals are provided by the hotel (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

At the hotel
  • Stayed for 5days and 5 nights
  • Received Negative Covid swab test from the Philippine Coast Guard
Returning home
  • Dropped by transportation provided by the government to PITX Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange).
  • Picked up by my relatives after obtaining certification from Philippine Coast Guard.
Helpful Links (Subject to change anytime) as provided by Philippine Immigration via their Facebook helpline
Hotlines
  • OWWA Hotline 1348
  • Philippine Red Cross Hotline 1158 
  • Covid Hotline 1555 
  • Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) (02) 8832 2929 / (02) 8942-6843

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