Last summer Elena and I had to go to Manila. We had used a small bag to check in with the airline but had a backpack to carry on with meds, a book and incidentals.
When we were returning, I accidently packed my toiletry bag in the backpack. While going through Security at the airport, the man at the X-ray scanner called over to one of the Security officers saying “He has an aerosol in the bag”
The Security officer motions for me to open the bag and remove the aerosol container. As I remove my tiny travel Deodorant can he says to me as he points to his under arm “Oh Sir, you need that for Protection, you keep that.”
This week we had to go to Manila to officially cancel the petition for Elena’s Fiancée Visa and get her passport back and also get an Affidavit from the US Embassy so we can get married in the Philippines. Because we had to go to 2 departments we decided to fly on Wednesday morning and return Thursday evening.
If you’re a smoker, here is a warning to anyone going to the US Embassy in Manila. Cell phones, digital cameras, cigarettes and lighters are not allowed to be brought into the Embassy. As you go through security, they will take your cell phones and digital cameras and give you a numbered card to retrieve, but they will not hold your lighters or cigarettes. So not to lose them, leave them in your hotel.
Last august while visiting Davao, I was invited to a group called The Friends of Mindanao. They are a social, support and networking group for foreigners. While at the meeting I met a lot of nice people, one being John Browning, a architectural designer from Denver Colorado.
Back to the story:
We arrived in Manila about 9:30AM and took a taxi to the US Embassy. After we were done, we went to a nice inexpensive hotel across the street called the Swagman Hotel. It is Australian design. The rooms are small, but comfortable and for a deluxe room it is only about $50 USD. They have a restaurant that serves decent meals.
Since I am used to going outside to smoke because in Davao you are not allowed to smoke in any public buildings, after lunch I was outside the hotel door having my cigarette and I see a foreigner walking down the street near me who looked familiar.
At first as I hear his voice, I thought it was an English accent, so I did not say anything. A moment later this man and his Filipina wife were next to me opening the door to the hotel. I looked over and asked if he was John Browning and he said yes. I reminded him who I was. It was funny, here I am, an American, living in Davao on Mindanao, standing in Manila and run into an acquaintance. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening with them including dinner.
The next funny part of the story happened at the airport.
In Davao as we were going through the second screening, the security person took my matches from my shirt pocket. I commented that I knew lighters were not allowed, but matches are. He responded that no flame producing items are allowed at all.
At airports in the Philippines you go through 2 security screenings. One when you first arrive and then again when you go to the gate areas.
After the first screening, you check in, get boarding passes and check any luggage you are not carrying on. Then you pay the airport fee and proceed to the final screening. As we were walking to the conveyor and metal detector, I removed my watch and my money clip. I was told to not bother, but to put my shoes on the conveyor to be X-rayed. As the security was patting me down, he opened my pack of cigarettes. He comments about the pack and I joke that I needed 2 sticks to rub together since I had packed my lighter.
He says to me, “Sir, no lighter?” in which I responded “I know they are not allowed.” He then says, “Oh Sir, here” and hand me a lighter.
So here I am in an airport and like a good traveler, packed my lighter since it is on the list of restricted items and he gives me one so I can smoke if needed.