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Pregnant & distraught workers plead for help so they could fly home

21 May 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap       

Some of the stranded passengers checking in for a flight home after switching airlines

At least two pregnant Filipina  women who are stuck in Hong Kong because of repeated flight cancellations are appealing for help so they could fly back to the Philippines as soon as possible.

Another just lost her mother and is desperate to go home not just to say a final goodbye, but also because her children have been left without someone looking after them.

These are just some of the challenges faced by an estimated 400 Filipino migrant workers who have been stranded in Hong Kong for months, amid flight restrictions that took effect both here and in the Philippines.


One of those desperate to leave for home immediately is J.V.R., who is already 30 weeks’ pregnant, and is just five weeks away from being barred from going on air travel.

She said her confirmed air ticket with Philippine Airlines has already been canceled four times, leaving her in distress because she runs the risk of having to give birth in Hong Kong when she cannot even go for an ante-natal check-up because she no longer holds an employment visa.

Noong Monday schedule ko po sana ng ultrasound sa Kwong Wah Hospital pero di na pala pwede kapag cut na ang contract kaya di na ako nakapag pa checkup ulit,” she said in a message. (Last Monday I was scheduled to have an ultrasound at Kwong Wah Hospital but I was told I was no longer entitled to get it for free since my contract had been cut. I could no longer have a check-up).

Pindutin para sa detalye

J. had hoped to get on board a PAL flight that left Hong Kong on Wednesday, Apr 19, but she was told that the Consulate had failed to get the government’s approval to allow the airline to add to its passenger load.

Consul Paulo Saret, who heads the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, said he had worked on the request to the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force to allow the airline to fly home with 200 extra passengers since last month, but no approval came.

Some of the lucky few who managed to fly out via PAL

Speaking in a live interview with The SUN Wednesday night, Saret said he hopes the requested allotment could be given for PAL’s next scheduled flight on May 26.

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He explained the IATF has limited the number of passengers entering the country to 1,500 each day, and the airline has to allocate its government-designated quota to all its flights coming from various destinations abroad.

This entry restriction has compounded problems already faced by the airlines since Apr 20, when Hong Kong imposed a ban on all flights coming from the Philippines in the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

Thus, for the May 19 flight, only the 68 listed on PAL’s passenger list for that day had managed to fly home to Manila.

Pindutin para sa detalye

However, it is unclear why PAL has not given priority to its passengers who had been bumped off repeatedly from flights it unilaterally cancelled, and instead, continues to sell tickets to new clients.

Nor is there an apparent answer as to why other airlines like Cebu Pacific and Cathay Pacific do not cancel flights as often as PAL does, so that they hardly have any passengers stranded in Hong Kong despite the arrival cap.

Digging in for the overnight wait for their early-morning flight to Manila

The stranded passengers are also clamoring for the airline to book them automatically for its next scheduled flight, instead of letting them rebook on their own, often at added cost.

It also angers people like J. who has been given a new flight date of Jul 1, when PAL has announced it will be flying regularly from Hong Kong every Wednesday.


Hindi na ako pwede mag flight nun. Yun po ang sabi ng PAL, beyond 35 weeks di na ako allowed kaya nanghihingi ako ng clearance na mag chance passenger. Nakailang tawag na ako sa PAL at sa travel agency, wala rin,” she said.

(I won’t be able to fly then. Even PAL said that after 35 weeks <of pregnancy> I will not be allowed to board, so I have been asking for clearance to be included as a ‘chance passenger’. I’ve called PAL and my travel agency, to no avail).

Another stranded passenger, G.A.V., is three months’ pregnant, and is also anxious to go home, knowing that without a working visa, she will not be entitled to free hospitalization, or even remain in Hong Kong.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

G. said she has rebooked her PAL ticket twice because of cancellations, and she is also desperate to get help because not only does she have to pay for board and lodging and visa extension, she also has to ensure she remains healthy for herself and her baby.

Luckily, she has linked up with PathFinders, a charity group helping migrant women and their children, so she is more confident of riding out the storm, at least until she gets on the plane that will bring her home.

Another stranded passenger, A.C.A., is despairing because her mother just passed away, leaving her three children without a caregiver. As her eldest is sick, A. said her husband was forced to quit his job so he could look after their children.

Two times na po na cancel ang flight ko via PAL. Sobrang emergency po ang pag-uwi ko dahil namatay mother namin at maysakit po ang anak ko. Yung amo ko pumayag nang umuwi ako. Please po, tulungan ninyo ako,” she pleaded. (My flight via PAL has been cancelled twice. This is an extreme emergency, I need to go home because our mother died and my child is sick. My employer has already allowed me to go home. Please help me).

She said she’s aware that she may not make it in time for her mother’s funeral, given that she has to undergo quarantine on her arrival in Manila. But she is still determined to go home so she could at least visit her grave, and also get her eldest seen by a doctor.

Ang sakit-sakit po na mawalan ng ina na hindi ko man lang nakita at nakasama sa huling sandali. Siya po ang nag-aalaga sa mga mga anak ko kaya nahihirapan din sila,” she said. (It hurts so much that I lost my mother, and did not even get to see her and be with her in the last moments of her life. She took care of my children, so even they are having a hard time).

Passengers caught unawares by a flight cancellation meet with PAL officials

Probably the longest holdout among the homebound workers is R.M.E., who said her flight had been canceled an incredible nine times. She said she was hopeful she could get on the May 19 flight of PAL because all of them who had signed up for it did not receive any notice of cancellation.

When the expected 200 additional seat allocation did not push through, R. decided it was time to quit. She booked a seat on the next Cebu Pacific flight, after seeing that a number of her fellow stranded passengers were able to fly home using this airline.

Bumili na ako ng Cebu Pacific kasi stressed na po ako at nangako silang may uuwi kahapon, yon ang pinakaaabangan namin sa gc (group chat). Iyon lang po talaga,” she said. (I just bought a Cebu Pacific ticket because I was already stressed out since they <Consulate> promised that some would be able to go home yesterday. All of us in the gc had looked forward to that).

Even after she’s successfully flown home, R. said she would still join the rest of her group in seeking redress for the untold suffering many of them were forced to bear while being stuck between a place that was driving them away, and their home country that did not seem anxious to welcome them back.




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