Indonesian citizenship is eligible for a VISA WAIVER to visit Guam for less than 15 days. For that reason, my Palauan friend, who I went to visit made a plan for my trip to Guam a couple months before. We communicated with U.S. Immigration in Guam and Philippine Airlines (PR) to sort out VISA and MACHINE READABLE PASSPORT issues (since my passport is older). When all the issues were settled, we thought, I purchased my ticket and I was ready to go.
I could sense something might go wrong when I checked in at the PR counter in Singapore. The officers didn’t know that Indonesians could get a VISA WAIVER to Guam. I argued with a mean and ruthless officer for that. He insisted that I needed a US VISA to visit Guam and wouldn’t let me board the plane to Manila. Sjeezz… Fortunately, the check-in counter lady was very nice and helpful. She checked me in to Manila and assured me that PR officers in Manila would know the issue better.
As soon as I landed in Manila, I proceeded to the transfer desk of PR. There were 2 guys who helped me and they seemed to know about the VISA WAIVER issue for Indonesians. They gave my passport and boarding pass to a security officer to take me to the departure area on the second floor. When she met another officer, another problem arose. The officer told me that a MACHINE READABLE passport is a MUST to go to US territory. She took me to the supervisor area and discussed this with some other officers while I was just standing there very nervous. Unfortunately, I received bad news. They just told me that I need a machine readable passport and wouldn’t let me board the plane without one. Defending myself and arguing with them was not a wise thing to do that time because I was physically and emotionally exhausted. The worst thing is PR even made an arrangement right away to send me back to Singapore! I was guarded by a security officer to go back to the transfer desk as if I was a criminal.
Good thing the 2 guys at the transfer desk were very nice. They comforted me and at the same time tried many ways to get confirmation about the machine readable issue. But at the end I still received a bad news. I can’t go. WAYAH!
During that tormenting process, I got a call that my friend made a back up reservation for me with Continental Airlines (CO). CO confirmed that there won’t be any problem for me to go to Guam with my passport. I had already lost hope and didn’t even want to try to go to the other terminal where CO office is located. But I thought if I didn’t try I might regret it. So I went.
The only thing CO officer did was fax a copy of my passport to Guam Immigration Bureau and within 5 minutes..VOILA! We got the approval that I’M GOOD TO GO! What a relief! I felt like cursing PR for all the nerve-racking things I had to go through because of their stupidity/lack of knowledge (excuse my language).
However, my bad luck wasn’t ended yet. I still had to pay for the new ticket. Unfortunately, at the Manila airport my 3 freaking credit cards were REJECTED, my ATM card didn’t work and my cash wasn’t enough to cover the ticket price. What I did was make a new reservation for the next day and I decided to go to Silang-Lalaan, outside of Manila, where I also have some old school friends to clear up my mind and regain my energy. I was hoping tomorrow would be a better day and everything would work out just fine for my trip. I was keeping my finger crossed.