Transitioning back to the Philippines in the middle of a pandemic wasn't easy. There were a lot of moving parts, but it was mainly a couple of things: (1) Quitting our jobs, (2) Arranging our travel back to the Philippines, (3) Shipping our things, and (4) Turning over our apartment.
Quitting our jobs wasn't as straightforward as we wanted. We had to give notice in advance. I wanted to leave earlier, but they wouldn't just let me go. It was a blessing in disguise because I was able to resolve additional health issues. My doctors also wanted me to be stable before I left. Eventually they allowed us to go. This was relatively the easiest thing to do.
We booked our flights and hotel in advance. It was very expensive to book just a one-way flight, so I booked a roundtrip one since I need to have my annual check-up next year anyway. The complicated part was following the ever-changing protocols. We originally booked 10 days at the hotel, but the IATF reduced the quarantine days to six. Good thing the hotel said they'll just refund the extra days.
The tricky part was the documentation needed. I detailed the requirements on this blog post. It's what we followed. Key thing is to print everything out because that would help with the clearances. Save all the QR codes also on your phone and make sure it's accessible offline (in case you don't have internet upon arrival). It makes things easier also if you have a local Philippine SIM since that's where the notifications of the RT-PCR test are sent.
Keep yourself updated also by checking the OWWA Singapore FB page. They have just posted an updated process last November 8 (see below), you may check it on the page here. Print this if you can since it could be confusing where to go next. We were lucky because the manongs who assisted me with the wheelchair took care of bringing us to where we needed to go.
A week before our flight we found out that there's a single occupancy policy. This means couples would be split up. I clarified this with the Board of Quarantine and got this response -
Room sharing for families/designated guardian shall be allowed under the following criteria:
1. With minor children 2. Persons with medical condition needing assistance with activities of daily living* 3. Senior citizens needing assistance with activities of daily living* 4. Persons with disability (PWD)
*Activities of Daily Living include eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting and walking/moving around Present the proof of your medical condition to the Quarantine Medical Officer on duty at the airport and coordinate with the hotel management regarding this. Please be reminded as well that if you were allowed to share room, you should sign a waiver with the hotel indicating your awareness of the risk of exposure in case one of your members yields a POSITIVE RT PCR RESULT. This exposure will mean that you will have to undergo 14 days quarantine with Day 1 being the date of release of result.
Jay has been taking care of me since I got sick. My two doctors wrote a memo for me stating that I needed daily living assistance. I informed the BOQ officer and presented the documents and email from BOQ. The medical officer on duty came to me and asked whether I needed to be hospitalized immediately (my medical conditions really look scary on paper). I told him I was stable and just needed my husband to be with me all the time. He gave the option for home quarantine, but I told him we already booked a hotel. We stayed at the hotel because we wanted to be sure we were negative before going home.
The most challenging part of the process was physically moving back everything. This process was tied to the turn over of our apartment. We had to inform our landlord two months before leaving so we can use the diplomatic clause on the contract. We were required to send a letter from our employer about our last day. After that we requested for quotations from shipping companies and eventually contracted one to help move our things.
Traveling for pleasure or business is easy. Traveling to transition back home is an entirely different process. We started sorting our things in early September, but we only finished packing for our flight two hours before we left for the airport. We also had to send a box via LBC the day before our flight because we realized we had more stuff to bring back. Haha. It was TIRING. We just rested the first three days during quarantine to catch up on sleep. I was so grateful that we didn't have to worry about food or chores. We were able to take naps whenever we felt like it.
And now we're home! I don't think I'll want to live abroad again or move far, far away! And I never want my family to be apart again! I slept like a baby last night. It was my first time to have more than an hour of deep sleep. Knowing Miggy's just in the other room probably calmed me down finally. Just a few more days we'll get to see my Mom! Yay!
#Home7 #NewG237 #Xmas45 #StayHome #BeKind