- Once we deplaned, we submitted our health declaration form (distributed and filled out during the flight) and got temp checked. After that checkpoint, there was this human chain of coast guards directing us to either the holding area for OFWs or non-OFWs. (The system was heavily relying on this human chain, which was not too bad since every few seconds they’d ask what you were and then direct you, but I did wish there was like a memo with all the steps we had to do before we could leave because basically the orientation given (see next point) was very confusing).
When I got to my holding area (non-OFW), we were asked to sit down in every other seat (not 6 feet but better than nothing). There were a lot of us in the small room so was worried to be honest with social distancing. They distributed forms to fill out: 2 forms that needed all our details, where we were staying, health conditions, etc., and 1 form that looked like a psych evaluation (e.g. had questions like “I feel like there is no meaning left in the world” or “I am a little touchy” that we had to self report on). We filled it out, and as we did, a coast guard (tried to?) orient us on what would happen. He basically outlined the next steps: we would get swabbed, then we could go through immigration, pick up our bags, and then go sign an affidavit (basically that we wouldn’t escape, could be held liable if we tried to leave our quarantine facility, and that we agreed to the swab test). The coast guard also mentioned that if we tested negative, we would get a certificate emailed to us that said we tested negative from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and could leave our hotels. If not, we would be picked up by the BOQ and transferred to a hospital.
- Results and other instructions and updates can be found on the Philippine Coast Guard FB page, so can check there. The coast guard said all the tests were being processed by Red Cross (only, it sounded like to me) so results could take awhile. Also, they are processing and verifying certificates online as well so you don’t have to get a hard copy from PITX to leave the hotel.
- At the holding room while waiting, people were upset and tired, so there was definitely a lot of shorter tempers. It was also crowded and noisy (again given the need for social distancing). It didn’t help that a.) from the supposed 3-5 days for results to come out, the coast guard said that, on average, it would take a week or more to get results and b.) an American guy looked like he got preferential treatment (I don’t know what happened since I didn’t make chismis but he basically got out to get processed waaaaay before everyone else did). People were also not very happy with the hotel prices, but also were not happy with the government quarantine facility (non-OFWs could supposedly petition to see if we could get into free government facilities if we didn’t have money for a hotel, subject to availability).
- Also, be prepared for hard to follow instructions and just people trying to follow but also not following? (e.g. A girl from DOT wanted to start verifying our bookings and asked those with prebookings to line up, and of course people started to rush to get first in line (with no social distancing of course because of the room size). But then the start of the line behind me insisted our rows should be first since that’s how we came in, so in the confusion and rush, a coast guard got mad and started getting mad and speaking into the microphone that he would delay our process if we didn’t all stay seated and went up one by one by row.) It was just messy and confusing because there were so many different agencies working there and sometimes there was conflicting information, but hopefully that smoothens out soon.
- I got out a bit first because I had a prebooking with Discovery Suites (huhu u da real MVP Alex) since DOT decided to verify if those with prebookings were accredited and inspected first. (So if you are arriving, prebook your hotel, make sure they are accredited and inspected by the BOQ, and prebook your hotel transpo if you can. It’s more expensive but I got out way before a lot of others did because of this).
- Got verified that my hotel booking and passport was legit, and went over to get swabbed. Had my UMID to get the test for free as a PhilHealth member, otherwise it would cost PHP 3,500. Got swabbed both in the throat in the nose. For what it’s worth, it did not hurt. Closed my eyes because I did not like seeing things going into my mouth and nose, but aside from my gag reflex slightly getting triggered, it was not painful. For the nose swab, it just felt like a twisted tissue going up my nose (if that makes sense? Haha).
- After the swab test, I got an acknowledgement slip and went through immigration (where there was also no social distancing with 4 immigration counters open that were beside each other and us passengers being back to back with each other and just a few inches away) and got my bags. Once through, I had to line up at the DOT counter to sign the affidavit. Since I had hotel transportation, I did not have to wait for the free shuttle to the hotels. However, I did have to wait for someone to escort me to the pick up area, since they kept on changing the rules as to where people could be picked up. The confirmation letter I had did not have the details of my pick up (just that I requested one, but no name of driver, plate number, etc.) so I had to get the transportation dispatcher to talk to the coast guard who finally relented and escorted me to the pick up place. It took awhile because I had to “kindly brontosaurus” my way through to get out of the terminal, since they at first would not let me go out to my pick up. So if you have hotel transpo arranged, make sure your confirmation letter also has the pick up details (name of driver, his/her mobile number, plate number, etc.).
- Finally got picked up by the hotel transpo and the coast guard had to take pictures of me entering and being inside the car. I asked for his name just to say thank you and he kind of got scared to give it (I think maybe he thought I’d lambast him on social media or something; he was already worried that I didn’t let him bring my bags as we walked to the parking lot/pick up zone and was like “oh no people might think I didn’t even bother to help you with your bags.” Or I don’t know if my face looks scary haha). I told him that I wasn’t mad at him or anything (I understood he looked just as confused and tentative about the work at hand), just at the system and the terrible way it was set up.
- I got to the hotel where I and my bags were disinfected. Shout out to Discovery Suites because the check in process was smooth, rules are clear, and staff were helpful!
- That was the entire process. Be prepared though for things and the rules and procedures to change suddenly and rapidly. If you have things ready like your PhilHealth number, information (like departure and arrival dates, prebookings, etc.) it will go a little more smoothly. Total time I took was around 3 hours, approximately, from deplaning to hotel.
A: No, everyone has to go through it.Q: Can I just get myself admitted to a hospital and get a test with them/other private lab?
A: Depends, would need to talk to whoever is senior officer when you arrive, and would probably need ambulance of hospital to pick you up from airport and bring you to the hospital where you will be admitted.
Q: Prices ranges or which hotels are included?
A: There were a lot, but if you don’t prebook, you are kind of left with whatever hasn’t been booked. Can range from 4-5 star hotels, to motels. Based on the numbers I saw last night, a quick ballpark range for prices per night are like Php 1,500 to 5,000 a night, not including hotels that are TBD for price. Those prices can also include different things–might be full board meals or not, etc.