We left the house at exactly 11:00am for our 2:00pm flight to Singapore on Christmas day.
Singapore Airlines is now in NAIA 3. At least our flight that day. It was not chaotic in the airport when we got there. Maybe because it was Christmas day. But there were still a lot of people traveling. You’d be surprise.
We went straight to Singapore Airlines counter to check in. It was a long queue. While waiting for our turn I did my traditional airport shot like I usually do.
Then our turn came.
The girl in the counter got all our passports and checked it one by one. Then she said your passport is expiring in 4 months. International law is you can’t travel 6 months before your passport expires. We looked at each other. And then I said, who? me? Girl in the counter looked at the passport and said: yes. I said, are you sure? She looked again and said, yes. Your passport is expiring on April 2016. I asked again: who? me? and she said again, yes, you. Maria Cristina.
Me? That never happened to me. I am borderline obsessive compulsive. I always check our passports. I couldn’t believe it. The kids couldn’t believe it. They were thinking Mom? that never happened to Mom.
I looked at my passport. Yes, it’s expiring in April 2016.
How did I f*****g miss this???? There’s no way! I started to push my panic button.
Claudia said I am not going if Mom can’t go. We looked at each other for a long time without saying anything. I did not want to ruin my kids vacation.
Then the girl in the counter said let me talk to my supervisor. I told her please miss. I’ll take the risk. We waited for 10 – 15 minutes then she came back with a piece of paper. You have to sign this waiver. We are not responsible when you get to Singapore.
I told her, yes miss. I will sign anything. Just let me fly.
I signed the waiver.
She let us through.
While waiting for our flight we all started to talk about the worst case scenario. Claudia googled Singapore law and told me: Mom, Singapore is very strict with the 6 months expiry date of passport. Vito was saying, they will send you back Mom.
I told them I will still take the risk.
Singapore to Manila is 3 hours. That was the worst 3 hours of my life. I was very, very nervous and I can’t even show the kids that I was nervous ’cause I didn’t want them to be stress about it.
The whole flight I was praying and praying and farting and farting every 10 minutes. I prayed and prayed. I know Singapore is very strict in everything. Think Flor Contemplacion.
When the pilot announced that we were landing in a few minutes and when he mentioned Changi Airport the more I got scared. The name alone Changi Airport scared the shit out of me.
But I was still hopeful. It’s Christmas day and I was going with my family for a holiday. They might be less strict with me.
When we got to the immigration I chose a male immigration officer. We kept on moving from one line to the other. I was thinking a male officer will be less strict than a female officer.
I will try to charm my way in.
Our turn came. Tb said lets all go as a family. He took all our passports and gave it to the immigration officer. The immigration officer took Tb’s and Claudia’s passport and told me, Mother and son queue.
Vito and me went back to the line and queued. Tb and Claudia went through. Then he called me and Vito. I thought he was checking my passport first and I was thinking God please I hope he will not notice. I kept on looking at him and when he stamped the passport he gave it to me and I took it. I was so happy and deep inside me I said: YES! When I tried to leave the counter he called me and said that’s not your passport. That’s your son’s passport.
I went back. He checked my passport. I was looking at him and praying please, please God. I hope he will not notice the expiry date of my passport. He flipped my passport so many times. Then he put it inside that small black machine.
He put down my passport and looked at me. I made eye contact.
Immigration officer: you did not renew your passport yet?
me: not yet. I did not know my passport is expiring in 4 months Sir
IO: International law is 6 months before the expiry date of your passport you are not allowed to travel anymore.
me: yes, I know that. But I was not aware Sir. I only found out when I checked-in in Manila.
IO: where did you buy your ticket?
me: from a travel agency Sir
IO: they did not tell you? It’s their responsibility
me: No Sir they did not tell me.
IO: choose, I can send you back to Manila now or you take the risk when you get to Male.
me: I will take the risk Sir. I don’t want to ruin the holiday of my children
IO: how long are you staying in Singapore?
me: overnight only Sir. We leave for Male at 10:00 tomorrow morning. We should be in the airport by 7:00 tomorrow morning.
IO: where are you staying tonight?
me: Mandarin Meritus Sir.
IO: okay, I will let you through but it is not my responsibility when you get to Male.
me: yes Sir
IO: (stamped my passport) okay.
He handed me my passport.
me: thank you Sir. Merry Christmas!
I saw Claudia’s face. When I went to them she told me: Mom, I have acid attack because of you!
I was so happy that they let me through. I did not think anymore what’s going to happen in Male. I will deal with it by tomorrow. For now I am happy that I was allowed through.
We went to get our luggages. Our luggages were nowhere to be found. We waited until the last luggage. None. Nada. We asked someone there and showed our luggage claim stubs. He said your luggages were checked thru to Male.
But it didn’t even affect me. We don’t have anything except what we are wearing. Normally I would be freaking out already. Kids were complaining. I said, it’s okay. The hotel will have toiletries. Let’s just buy clothes and underwear to wear tomorrow.
Claudia: looks like God doesn’t want us to go to Maldives, Mom.
Me: it’s going to be okay Claudia. Legit reason for us to go shopping, right? Think of it like that. Let’s just be thankful they let me in.
We got to the hotel around 9:00pm already (our flight was delayed in Manila for 1 hour and a half. When we got to Singapore we were not allowed to land for like an hour due to airport congestion).
After checking in we just dropped our hand carry and ran out. OMG, Orchard road was packed with people. Too many people. It was Christmas day and everyone in Singapore was in Orchard road. Shops were closing at 11:00pm we have at least an hour and a half to shop.
It was very difficult to navigate through the crowd. So, I told the kids let’s spread out. Claudia and Vito went to Lululemon and I went to Sephora and was suppose to look for Mark and Spencers to buy our underwear.
It took me 30 minutes to wade thru the Orchard crowd. From Mandarin Meritus to Ion Mall on a normal day is less than 5 minutes. That was how thick the crowd was.
I got what I wanted in Sephora. They were not complete and I was so frustrated. Claudia texted me and said they were on their way to Sephora. I called her and told her not to come anymore, the crowd was unbelievable. Just stay where you are, I said. I told her I was not able to find M&S. She said: it’s okay I was able to buy underwear in Lululemon.
When we got to the hotel we realized there was H&M beside our hotel. So, we ran there and got underwear, sleep wear and clothes for the next day.
We went back to our rooms took a shower and ordered room service. This was like 12:00 midnight already. We went to sleep right away cause our airport transfer was at 7:00 the following morning and we need to wake up early.
By 7:15am the following day we were on our way to the airport.
We had breakfast when we got to the airport and shopped since our flight to Male was at 11:00am yet.
Our flight to Male was on time. I got nervous again. What if they will not let me in? What now? There was no worse case scenario to think about anymore.
Our flight to Male was 4 hours. I went to sleep and I did not want to think about it. I was thinking Singapore let me in already. I think they will be less strict. And besides I will charm my way in again.
We landed in Ibrahim Nassir airport in Male.
We looked for a male officer again. When there was one more passenger before our turn the guard told us to queue on the next line cause there was no passenger there anymore. We moved. And it was a female officer.
I am dead. I am so f*****g dead.
The kids and Tb went thru and when it was my time I made eye contact the minute I got to the counter and smiled. She flipped my passport a few times and stamped it right away.
No questions asked.
OMG. I can’t believe it. I am in Maldives.
Our resort representative was there waiting for us. His name is Ahmed. When I saw him I was so happy I nearly hug him. He was so confused what was going on. Filipinos are happy people he said.
The whole time I was in Maldives I feel like a fugitive. I defied an International Law.
While Claudia and me were lying down in the shore getting a tan, I still couldn’t believe I was actually there.
Mom: can you imagine if I didn’t take the risk? Can you imagine?
Claudia: Can you imagine if you renewed your passport? Can you imagine?
Next post will be about my time in Maldives.