In these difficult times, traveling back to your home country seems to be impossible and complicated. With all the travel restrictions both in your origin airport, layover, and arrival airport, you may consider not to push through with your travel plans if it is just for leisure purpose. In addition, the tripled cost of the ticket and the PCR Testing timing is a crucial thing to plan. So here are some of my tips that can guide one traveler.

Before

Here are some points to remember before taking your flight:

  1. For OFW, register for e-CIF at the Red Cross website. Take a screenshot of the QR code or print it. For non-OFW, register at padlab website.
  2. PCR Test in a government-approved facility. Have an appointment in a government-approved laboratory for PCR testing. I paid 650 MAD in Cheikh Zaid International Hospital in Rabat. Results are released after 48 hours. They don’t send it to your email so you have to retrieve it at the hospital.

During

Check-in online before your flight to reduce the hassle at the airport. There’s not much passenger when I flew last 22 September. Airport were not that busy due to limited flights. The flight from Casablanca to Abu Dhabi went well with only few passengers. Lots of vacant seats so I was able to lie down. Upon arrival at the Abu Dhabi Airport, that was another story. It was a full flight. Always bring a pen. You will be required to fill up 3 forms onboard: health declaration, arrival card and COVID-19 CIF.

Arrival at NAIA T1

If arriving as OFW, you will have to go to the Red Cross booth for free PCR test . After that, the usual process follows like immigration clearing, luggage retrieval and you will be ushered by free bus to your government-provided quarantine facility. From there, you’ll have to wait for your test result.

If arriving as non-OFW, you will have to do your PCR Test at the Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory. Fee: 4500.00 PHP or 95 US$ for regular. Results are expected to be released within 48-72 hours. While for STAT (ASAP), 11700.00 PHP or 240 US$. Results should be released within 12-24 hours. I paid the regular one and got the result the following day at 0800H. After swabbing, immigration clearing and baggage retrieval, immediately proceed to the Department of Tourism booth. They will ask for your hotel booking. You have to shoulder this as non-OFW. You will have to sign an Affidavit of Undertaking and you will be escorted by one of the  Philippine Coast Guard employee to the accredited taxi. You have 2 options, either fixed rate which they have a list of all the hotels with corresponding fare or you go with metered taxi. Rates are posted.

Upon arrival at the hotel, you will have to observe some safety measures like disinfection, temperature check, and so on. You are not allowed to go out unless you get a negative result. I got my PCR result in less than 24 hours. So I suggest, just book 2-3 days. It was really fast.

Traveling To Your Hometown

After checking out from the hotel, it’s time for me to find another place to stay until my scheduled flight. I ended up in a friend’s place. Going back to your province requires some documents to comply prior to arrival in your respective towns. Always contact your local government unit and check the airlines policy before flying. In my case, I spoke with the quarantine focal person and instructed me to comply with some papers. It was too fast and requires one day to process them all. Here’s the process:

1. Go to the barangay where you are currently located. Ask for quarantine pass. Submit to Rural Health Unit or City Health Unit in exchange for medical certificate.
2. Visit the PNP station and submit a photocopy of the quarantine pass and medical certificate. Fill-up the form and submit to the staff. Wait for the authority to travel.
3. After collecting the above certificate and pass, ask your family member to get a residency certificate at the brgy. hall. Together with the travel authority and medical certificate, submit it to the local government unit so they can issue an acceptance letter and coordination notice to the driver who will fetch you.

The Stress From Being Stranded Somewhere & Struggle To Go Home

Philippine Airlines cancelled my flight 4x. It prompted me to find another option like carpool and boat. Carpool was too expensive. So boat was the last choice. Apart from the pain of collecting those documents needed to secure the acceptance letter from the Local Government Unit, the RORO boat (roll-on, roll-off) schedule should be consider as well as the guidelines for accepting Locally Stranded Individuals (LSI). Both the arrival port and the accepting LGU has its own protocol. Another challenge is the transportation arrangement. Lucky for those LGU who provides transportation to their returning residents. Public transport is not allowed to fetch LSI, Returning OFW (ROF), and APOR. If your LGU like mine doesn’t provide transportation, you should be the one to arrange.

It was a smooth sailing trip from Batangas to Caticlan. Upon boarding, they will check the medical certificate, authority to travel and acceptance letter. 13 hours in total. Same documents will be checked prior to disembarkation. Starlite Ferries has clean restrooms and shower rooms, good reclining chairs (1120.00 Php) or bunk beds (1700.00 Php). Food was included on the ticket but not drinks where you have to purchase it separately. Beer for 90.00, softdrinks for 60.00,  and 30.00 for bottled water. Immediately after arrival at the quarantine facility, a small interview was conducted and I was ushered to my own room. I’ll be quarantined for 14 days.

Are you traveling soon or just traveled recently? Share your experience and don’t hesitate to ask for any questions or hit the comment box. Have a safe trip!

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I live my life everyday celebrating. An easy go lucky guy. Always hungry for adventure and learning different cultures. If I'm not at the summit, I'm at the sea. Traveling is my way of life. Deeply in love with mountaineering, swimming, skinny dipping, island hopping, fishing, and cycling. Loves good food, beer, music, and good human conversation. At home, I used to cook, do yoga, and meditate. A coffee lover. Stay most of my time at the outdoors, breathing the cold air, tasting the saltiness of sea breeze, watch the waves swiftly caressing the sand, listen to the flowing water of the river, pitch my tent or hang my hammock and sleep under 5 billion stars. I hate manicured places (resorts). Adores sunrise and sunset which gives me extraordinary energy.