It happened again! Have this pesky thing that never fails to cause some unfortunate incidents with immigration officials at airports. In the Pinas, old people would have inquired if I had that balat hidden somewhere. The term actually refers to a birthmark that is supposed to make one a sort of magnet to all the unluckiness and negativity in the world. Used to think that it probably had something to do with my appearance. Either I looked like a member of some local terrorist cell, or a plain bloke from the rural areas who had been duped by illegal job recruiters into leaving the country and taking his chances in some god-forsaken place.
Guess it's more of the latter. But now I'm quite certain that it has something to do also with the intelligence level of some immigration officials. Like this amazing guy at the immigration counter of the old international airport in Manila who had an IQ level equal to that of a paramecium. When I stepped in front of the counter and handed him my passport and boarding pass, the first thing he asked was whether I'm traveling with this other guy who came before me in the line. Said I wasn't. Discovered later that there was this group of blokes who were all headed for South Africa through Bangkok. And this pea-brained Filipino immigration official was starting to get uneasy with all that data even before I reached his cubicle.
Upon seeing my passport and thus noting that it had a South African visa stamped on it as well, he quickly instructed me to proceed to the immigration office together with this group that he and his fellow immigration officials at the other counters quickly suspected of trying to leave the country illegally. Quite in keeping with his limited single-celled thinking process, he didn't even bother to check the date on my old visa. Had he done so, he would have found out that I had been to South Africa almost three months ago and that the visa was expired for more than a month. He didn't ask me for any identification paper, nor inquired about my real destination or my purpose in traveling to Bangkok. Had he done so, I would have shown him my university ID and travel pack that had the addresses of the office in Bangkok where I'm attending a meeting the following day and the hotel where I will be staying for the night.
But another nasty thing about these life forms masquerading as intelligent human beings is that they behave rudely most of the time. Much like real protozoans gobbling up other small cells. Asking him why I had to wait and go through the interview with their supervisor, this government official turned, pointed an accusatory finger at me, and nonchalantly announced to the world that I was a liar. After what felt like an eternity at the supervisor's office, everything was finally sorted out and I got the stamp on my passport. Doing my breathing exercises later at the boarding gate, thought about why the Philippine government is wasting our money to pay unthinking scum-dwellers.
(Image above courtesy of Wikipedia)