My passport is expiring in 4 months, and there is a strict international immigration policy that says that no one is allowed to leave with a passport with less than 6 months validity. I know about this policy but was not really aware that my passport is expiring, for the simple reason that I don’t have the habit of checking it’s expiration date, and I figured my travel agent would inform me anyway if it’s time for me to renew my passport. As it turn out, I was wrong.
My flight was at 8:30AM and I had to be at the airport at around 5:30AM. I noticed that my passport is already expiring at around 12 midnight! I quickly googled whether what should I do, and there are numerous stories that says it’s impossible to leave if your passport has less than 6 months validity.
I know my chance of leaving was kind of bleak; especially they made special mention that Singapore Airlines is one of the strictest amongst all the airlines in implementing this. Apparently, its not just immigration one had to deal with, the airlines are the first to ‘police’ and block you from leaving if your passport is less than 6 months valid.
I decided to chant the mantras of Shakyamuni Buddha (OM MUNI MUNI MAHA MUNI YE SOHA), Amitabha Buddha (OM AMI DEWA HRIH), and Medicine Buddha (TADYATHA OM BHEKANDZYE BHEKANDZYE MAHA BHEKANDZYE RADZA SAMUGATE SOHA) only because they are the three major Buddhas. Then I started chanting the mantra of Kuan Yin (OM MANI PADME HUM), Kuan Kong (NAMO CHIA LAN PUSA), and Guru Rinpoche (OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADME SIDDHI HUM). I would repeat it several times and spin the prayer wheel whenever possible. From time to time I also would chant the mantras of Goddess Tara (OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA) and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (OM AH KSITIGARBHA THALENG HUM). After continuously doing it for about two hours, I decided to do an oracle to check whether I’ll be able to leave or not. The oracle showed that I would be able to leave with some slight problems.
After the oracle I decided to take an hour’s worth of sleep. Was not able to get a wink!
On the way to the airport, I kept on spinning my Guru Rinpoche prayer wheel and alternately I would chant the Buddhist name of Kuan Yin and Kuan Kong, which are Namo Ta Pei Kuan Shi Yin Pusa and Namo Chia Lan Pusa or Namo Sangharama Bodhisattva, and then I’ll pray to them to let me be able to leave.
As expected at the Singapore Airlines check – in counter they told me that my passport has less than 6 months validity, they also pointed out that to be more specific it is only about 4 months valid, and because of that they won’t be able to issue me a boarding pass. Surprisingly, there were two other people whose passport is also less than 6 months valid. One of them still has 5 months validity. We were all told that we couldn’t leave because it will be simply a waste of time because chances are we won’t be allowed to enter Singapore. I pleaded my case and the duty manager came to talk with me. After carefully explaining that even if they allow me to board the plane there is no guarantee that the Philippine immigration will allow me to leave and much more Singapore immigration will ‘most definitely not allow anyone with a passport that has less than 6 months validity to enter their country’, and after telling me that flights from Singapore to Manila are fully booked because of the holidays and that rebooking in this instances are not allowed so I’ll have to book a new flight back to Manila should I not be allowed to enter Singapore, and that I have to agree to sign a waiver that they will not be held responsible for any inconvenience, they agreed to issue me a boarding pass! The other two passengers with less than 6 months valid passport decided not to risk it and decided to cancel their trip.
At the immigration, I was again told by the immigration that my passport is about to expire. The lady immigration officer discouraged me from leaving, and warned me that I will most definitely will be send back. I told her to please allow me to take that risk. That’s when she allowed me to leave! First two hurdles surpassed! But the real test is at Singapore immigration, because everybody says that they are quite strict.
On the plane on my flight going to Singapore, I never once stopped spinning my Guru Rinpoche prayer wheel and alternately call on Kuan Yin and Kuan Kong to help me be able to enter Singapore. I also chanted the mantra of Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Medicine Buddha, Green Tara and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, once each. Of course, it helps that I was wearing an image of Kuan Kong and Kuan Yin with Heart Sutra as pendant because it gives me a leverage by empowering with negotiating with diplomacy and at the same time without creating animosity by ensuring there is harmony.
When we got to the immigration, I was again told quite sternly that my passport is less than 6 months valid. I proceeded to explain my side, siting that I travel a lot and should not pose any immigration problems. The immigration said – I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR PAST. WHAT I’M CONCERNED WITH IS NOW! – When she said this I thought I really wouldn’t be allowed to enter Singapore, and I decided to raise the fact that I have already booked my exit flight already! She took a look at the e-ticket on my iPad, and told me that – THIS IS THE LAST TIME YOU’RE ALLOWED TO USE YOUR PASSPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL! – And with that I was allowed to get through Singapore immigration. What a relief!!!
I firmly believe that it was the power of calling on Kuan Yin, Kuan Kong, and chanting the mantras of the different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with the power of the prayer wheel of Guru Rinpoche that really made it possible for me to go through immigration!
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