Deportation from NAIA3 – Bị trục xuất

Tôi chưa bao giờ tưởng tượng đến, hay nghĩ rằng, mình có thể bị giữ ở sân bay. Vậy mà … điều đó … đã xảy ra …

I never EVER imagined, or think THAT, I will be kept at the airport. BUT that’s what HAPPENED.

The flight from Hanoi to Manila via Cebupacific, arrived by 5am March 6 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3). I queued up with other Vietnamese to process at Immigration counter. I helped two other Vietnamese to interpret since they don’t speak English. and 3 of us with another Vietnamese girl were asked to go to another room.

There were 2 other Vietnamese took the flight from Saigon were being kept there, they also don’t speak English and I interpreted. All of them have relatives/acquaintance waiting outside. All of us have return tickets to Vietnam.

Chuyến bay từ Hà Nội đến Manila qua hãng Cebupacific, đến nơi lúc 5h sáng ngày 6/3 tại sân bay NAIA3. Tôi đứng xếp hàng với những người Việt khác để làm thủ tục nhập cảnh. Tôi phiên dịch giúp hai người Việt không nói được tiếng Anh. Và ba chúng tôi cùng với một bạn nữ người Việt khác được gọi vào trong phòng.

Có hai người Việt khác bay từ Sài gòn qua cũng bị giữ lại đây, họ cũng không nói tiếng Anh. Tất cả mọi người đều có người thân đợi bên ngoài. Tất cả chúng tôi đều có vé máy bay về VN.

Officers asked us: reason to come, show pocket money, write the name of friend/relative here, etc.

Me,  I said: I still have something here and I want to come back to get my things, and I have an interpretation with WB. Problem is WB didn’t issue me any work permit, just contract. And I weren’t able to download that contract because the internet wasn’t accessible. The officer asked me: “You came back to VN last Sep and another time last Feb, why didn’t you bring your things back by that time”? I didn’t know what to say.

Cán bộ hải quan hỏi chúng tôi: lý do đến đây, mang bao nhiêu tiền, viết tên người thân/bạn bè ở đây …

Tôi nói là: Tôi vẫn còn đồ đạc ở đây và tôi đến đây để lấy đồ về, và tôi có một buổi phiên dịch với WB. Vấn đề là WB không cấp cho tôi work permit, chỉ có hợp đồng. Và tôi đã không thể download được hợp đồng lúc đó do không vào được internet. Cán bộ hải quan hỏi tôi: “Hồi tháng 9 năm ngoái và tháng 2 năm nay, bạn đã quay về VN, tại sao bạn không đồ của mình về lúc đó”? Tôi không biết phải nói gì.

A guy was released after few minutes. His reason was: his sister who married to an English man is pregnant and he comes here to accompany his sister to go back to VN. 5 of us were transferred to another room without any document or statement of why. Only guards are there with us, and they don’t know any thing.

Một bạn nam được thả ra sau vài phút. Lý do của cậu ấy là: chị gái bạn ấy đang mang thai và cậu ấy đến đây để đưa chị gái về VN sinh nở. Năm người chúng tôi được chuyển sang một phòng khác mà không có bất kỳ tài liệu hay thông báo nào về lý do tại sao. Chỉ có bảo vệ ở đó, và họ không biết gì cả.

Biên giới thực sự của Philippines là những dây băng màu xanh mỏng manh kia - The real border of the Philippines are those tiny blue ribbons
Biên giới thực sự của Philippines là những dây băng màu xanh mỏng manh kia – The real border of the Philippines are those tiny blue ribbons

From the time I stayed there, many others were being kept with different reasons: no return ticket, don’t speak English, same name with someone in blacklist, etc. The guards told me, last Dec there were hundreds of people, in which, around 25 Vietnamese and 20 Chinese. Vietnamese, Malaysian, Chinese, African citizens are being kept the most.

A Chinese guy has been here many times since he was 17, now he’s 27. His parents are here. He doesn’t speak English but he speak Tagalog very well. But they still don’t accept.

An Angolan has visa but don’t have return ticket.

Another has visa, return ticket but not “enough” money. He said his parents will send later but not accepted.

Từ lúc tôi ở đó, có nhiều người khác cũng bị giữ lại với nhiều lý do khác nhau: không có vé về, không nói Tiếng Anh, trùng tên với ai đó trong danh sách đen,… Bảo vệ nói với tôi, hồi tháng 12 có tới hàng trăm người bị giữ lại, trong đó, khoảng 25 người Việt, 20 người Trung Quốc. Công dân VN, Malay, Trung Quốc, Châu Phi là bị giữ lại nhiều nhất.

Một người TQ đã từng đến đây nhiều lần từ năm 17 tuổi, năm nay anh ta 27 tuổi. Bố mẹ anh này ở đây. Anh này không nói tiếng Anh nhưng nói tiếng Tagalog rất tốt. Nhưng vẫn không được chấp nhận.

Một người Angola có visa nhưng không có vé khứ hồi.

Một người nữa có visa, có vé khứ hồi, nhưng không có “đủ” tiền. Anh ta nói bố mẹ sẽ gửi thêm sau, nhưng không được chấp nhận.

The room for people who transit and who being kept
The room for people who transit and who being kept

I don’t remember exactly how did we realize our situation. But afterward, I texted to someone I know at Vietnam Embassy at Manila, but he said he can’t be any of help. This happened before, and Vietnam Embassy sent people to airport, but can’t help.

Luckily, I had a Philippines phone number by that time, and someone outside helped me to load my phone. My phone then was being borrowed regularly for people to contact to someone outside.

Four Vietnamese are TR and TH – boy and 2 girls (N and Q). N cried a lot, she is a nun, mostly stay in church and it’s her first time experience something “shock” like this. Q is quite calm, she still smile and in peace. TR and TH worry, but not chaos. Me: accept life as it happens.

Our relatives/acquaintances/friends outside immediately find ways to help us. They went to immigration head office at Intramurous to write recall order for us. To name them: Hoa and Jocel – my friends, Mung – the aunt of TR, Hung – friend of Q, friends of TH, and N – she has lots of people help her (from Catholic churches and organizations).

Afternoon, TH was released, I asked him: how. He said: I don’t know, my friends helped me. He paid Php 7000+ for this. (Later on, when I came back to Vietnam and chatted with him, he told me that his friend asked a school in the Philippines to send a letter to immigration office saying that he is a student and coming to study with them).

4:11pm, David called me. I never intended to ask help from him. “No, David, I received many favors from you already, I don’t want to bother you any more.”  But he is still there, when I need help the most, voluntary find way to help me.

End of Friday, no hope, we need to wait until Monday since Sat and Sun no office. We were transferred to a nearby area which has rooms with beds for us to sleep. It doesn’t have doors. 6pm we can transfer our things there, 6am we have to transfer back to the original room. Anyway, it’s still better than sleep on chairs.

The bedroom

For foods, we consumed some goodies which are supposed to be gifts for our friends/acquaintances/relatives in the Philippines. Foods from outside were sent to us as well. Cebupacific is quite good, sometime they provide us some bottled water and cup noodles. The others, normally they ask help from the guards to buy foods outside for them. Me, sometimes I ask the guard to accompany me to get water from drinking water tap. Almost all of our activities are being recorded in a notebook.

We are not allowed to go further than the 2 rooms. We can’t buy anything for ourselves, must to ask help from the guards. One Russian guy who is a seaman, he can’t eat anything beside boiled foods. And that’s not possible to find in this airport (as from the guards). Luckily, the relatives of N sent us 4 boiled eggs, so I gave him one.

We aren’t allowed to send something outside or meet anyone. TR was allowed to see his aunt at Viewing Gallery which is very far to each other, then they talked by phone.

It’s the first time in my life experience the feeling of being “imprisoned”, to not see the sun. But if it was a prison, it’s an executive prison.

And it’s eventually enjoyable when meet new people, listen to different stories and help someone. N and me were volunteering interpreters. Sometimes it’s needed the combination from both of us. N only speaks Chinese and Vietnamese. And I only speak English and Vietnamese. When the Chinese/Taiwanese guys need to talk with guards/Cebupacific staffs, N interpreted from Chinese to Vietnamese, then I interpreted from Vietnamese to English and vice versa.

Besides, I was also helping interpreting from English … to English. For example, a Nigerian deportee and a staff of the airline, both can speak English well, but they asked my help to interpret. At that time, I didn’t know why. But afterward I think because of 2 reasons: (1) the Filipino airline staff was speaking in an accent which the Nigerian deportee was hard to understand, while I can understand Filipino accent easier; (2) the airline staff told the Nigerian deportee that they need to keep his passport until he land back in Nigeria, and this guy didn’t trust this much, so I told him about one person in our group experienced the same, and her passport was returned.

A pregnant Indian woman looks very painful and doctors and healthcare staffs appeared to help her. When she’s transferred to another room to take a rest, I brought chicken to offer her, she shook her head. The nurse there told me that she hasn’t eaten anything since last evening. I asked the nurse what she wants and I will buy for her. The Indian said she’s a vegetarian and she only want veggies. Yes, correct, I know that many Indian are vegetarian, but finding veggies in this airport is a big question. We aren’t allowed to go out and as far as the guards told me, only fast food chains like McDonald, Jolibee are available. Me, myself, wanted veggies as well. Finally, what I can give her, is only the rice. I offered her some peanuts and an apple but she didn’t get.

I met a Moroccan, some Nigerian has visa, even student visa but don’t have return ticket. One of them told me that, when he went to Philippines Embassy in Nigeria, that’s all they told him, that’s all he knows, he hasn’t awared of return ticket. He asked him he can buy a return ticket NOW to be able to get in the country, but they refused. A flight which cost around 2000 usd and took nearly 24 hours with one, two, three transits is wasted. And that’s many hope and preparation of people. Yes, it’s THEIR country and they have rights to allow someone to enter their country or not. But we just wish that they have a way to make lives of others easier.

We experienced seeing Morocco’s President passing by using express lane to go to the airplane.

Q was the first one being sent back to VN in Saturday evening. Her reason was too obvious: She booked her return ticket too far.

Tuesday afternoon, N was released. Tuesday evening (Mar 10), I were sent back to VN. Wednesday evening, TR was sent back to VN.

As long as you have a return ticket from Cebupacific, they will re-arrange the flight for you without extra pay.

I’m not so sure with Philippines Airline and other airlines in other airports. The time I stayed there, I saw people took flights of Cebupacific, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific and Emirates had same situation with me.

Notebook records people are being kept

Anyway, the custom officer just did her responsibility. No one is wrong, no one is right in this story.

Jersey said: “Thing doesn’t happen TO you, it happens FOR you”.

Just think about I still have something to eat, have a place to sleep and can help someone. I learned new lessons and have a STORY to tell.

What a GREAT experience!

Reminder: Be careful when booking online ticket of Cebupacific.

On their online form, there ARE 3 different blanks for First name, Last name and Middle name.

And of course, I entered in these 3 blanks. HOwever, the Middle name never appear on the ticket, although I entered it.

Previously I never experienced difficulty when traveling without middle name on the ticket, but starting early of 2015, they asked me to have that. BUT, I booked the promo ticket since 2014.

Yes, I can enter the middle name together with the first name so it will appear on the ticket. But, in fact, it’s middle name, it’s NOT two first names.


Deny of Recall Letter – NAIA 3 airport, Manila, Philippines.


Okay, we don’t know exactly why was I deported, but we assume that this is the reason:

There are a decent number of Vietnamese come to work in the Philippines illegally: i.e in public market. And I helped people who don’t speak English to interpret at the airport, so the custom think that those people come to the Philippines to work, and I was the one who helped them.

Another reason might be: I was staying under tourist visa in the Philippines too long after I resigned.


Updated as of Aug 25, 2016: I never returned to the Philippines since then. A law service there told me that I should pay 150,000PHP for their service fee only to be able to come in again.

I called Philippines Consulate in Ho Chi Minh city, but they advised me to contact with Manila for this.




2 thoughts on “Deportation from NAIA3 – Bị trục xuất

  1. Khuyen you really were sent back to Vietnam without any reason given? I am to visit Philippine friends at Cebu via Singapore, Marianette Virtudes soon. I better check back with her what is this all about.

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