I’m back in the Philippines.
An apologetic TSA agent managed to detach my passport cover in Newark Liberty airport last night. I didn’t know the implications of having a damaged passport until I conducted some research during my layover in Hong Kong.
You see, some E-Passports issued by the Philippine Government in 2010 have a tendency to fall apart. The government claims that there were only 528 incidents of such damage – make it 529 now. The spine is the most vulnerable part of this particular batch of passport and they’ve mitigated this with some tape. There was even coverage in local news about a kid who wasn’t allowed to fly out due to his damaged passport.
I went straight to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) office as soon as I arrived. Upon inspection of my “mutilated” (their terms, not mine) passport, they felt that it was necessary for me to have it replaced. Sadly, this is something tape can’t fix. To be fair to the DFA, the staff were accommodating and professional. At least they showed some empathy on the situation. But yes, I had to pay for my new passport and I had no choice but to accept what they offer me. It could be worse.
From what was originally planned as a short, 1 week trip is now tentatively set to almost 2 weeks. If I get my passport in time, I have to at least extend my stay in Manila for another 5 days.
Ouch. Time to send out some emails.
UPDATE (January 3, 2015)
This post got a lot of traffic based on the comments below. While it originally intended to be a rant, here are some notes that may hopefully help address some of your anxiety. Good luck!
- Natanggal ba yung cover? Detached cover? – Yikes! Your passport is definitely mutilated and my advise is for you to rush to the nearest DFA consul office or Philippine Embassy so you can request for an immediate replacement. The risk here is that even if you’re flying out of the country, say, from the United States – they won’t allow you since your passport is damaged! Avoid the stress and pray that they’ll send you the replacement just in time for your trip. I was lucky because my passport got mutilated AFTER inspection (it was accidentally detached by a security offices sa airport). Bottom line is, it’s going to be a real hassle and your best bet is to go straight to the DFA offices in Macapagal upon arrival. Time is of the essence!
- Nabasa? It got wet? – Hmmm….I actually heard of a case on Facebook where my friend still managed to travel back to the Philippines. It’s worth a shot BUT I recommend that if you have time to have it replaced, do so. An added benefit of that is you kinda renewed your passport in advance.
- Kinagat ng aso? A.k.a. my dog ate my passport – Oh my god, okay that sounds really bad. On top of reprimanding your dog, it sounds like you would need a replacement!
- Nasulatan? – It’s akin to vandalism, intentional or not so this might fall under the damaged category as well.
Basta, ang rule is if your passport shows some form of damage (not to be confused with wear and tear), let’s say sira talaga siya (natiklop (bent), napunit (torn)) it always pays to be on the safe side. When in doubt, get a new one. Lalo na kung may time pa!
Yes, it’s a hassle but the good news is, you’ll be given a new reinforced passport that should survive future trips.
Having said that, check out these links for additional help:
Good luck! If you found this post helpful, please check out AndyanAgad.com if you want to send grocery packs for your family in the Philippines (sorry for the shameless plug).
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