no boundaries

They deserve it! 

This happened many years ago but every time it sneaks into memory, I couldn’t help but bristle in anger.

While going through immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which should have been a breeze considering it was my umpteenth trip abroad, a woman immigration officer, I’d like to think, took a fancy on me and asked what I would do in Jakarta.

I told her I will cover a football game on the invitation of the Liverpool squad of England. After going through my travel documents, she asked whether I had a return ticket. Of course, I had. She asked to see it. After showing her the ticket, I asked, I can no longer remember if it was in a mean tone, what prompted her to think I would go TNT in Indonesia. TNT, of course, is “Tago ng tago, a term used for undocumented aliens in a foreign country, like our TNTs in the United States.


“SOP,” was her stern reply.

I refused to let it go, however, and gave her a piece of my mind.

I told her that if she would care to punch my name in her computer, she’d find out that I’m no first time international traveler, that I’d been to the four corners of the world covering, among others, the Asian Games, Olympics and World Championships.

I told her that in the Philippines, I am the envy of many because of my job, that I’m just one of 10 sports editors of broadsheets and English tabloids. That others would gladly have an arm or a foot for my job.

Besides, I told her, I have no intention of staying undocumented in Indonesia, much less in Jakarta, where her ilk abounds, noting that she wore a hijab. I told her that I took a bath every day, brushed my teeth twice daily, that I changed my underwear on a daily basis, that I changed my shirt and pants every day.


She didn’t respond, nothing the sarcasm in my voice.

While waiting for my boarding time, I was still seething in anger. This woman, even if she was, as she said, doing her job, had no business insinuating that I had even the slightest intention of staying a day longer in Indonesia.

But then, I can’t fault her, I later told myself and my traveling companion, a fellow sports editor. Perhaps, she hadn’t been to Jakarta.

I brought up this episode in my life because of the recent developments in the Senate Blue Ribbon committee probe on the P50-million extortion involving sacked Bureau of Immigration commissioners Al Argosino and Mike Robles.


Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the Senate panel, said he would recommend, among others, possible extortion charges against the two and retired police official Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero.

“I think the truth,” Gordon said, “is out.”

Which made me think: Maybe the woman immigration officer just wanted to shake me down for a few precious dollars but balked because I had the temerity to lecture her.


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