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Two Filipinas bumped off flight for failing to complete OneHealthPass

03 October 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


The 2 Filipinas were turned away from their Oct 1 flight aboard Cebu Pacific (file photo)

To those about to fly out of Hong Kong back to the Philippines, beware! You must register with OneHealthPass well before checking in for your flight, or you could miss getting on that plane.

This was what happened to two Filipinas on Saturday, Oct. 1, while they were checking in for their 9pm flight on Cebu Pacific.

According to Rhia Mateo, who had worked in Hong Kong for only a month before she was terminated, it was only while she was at the airline counter that she learned she needed to register with OHP to get a personal QR code to be allowed to board her flight.


Mateo, 36, said it was already around 7pm then, and she was shaking from fright because she had just received a phone call from a co-worker who said that their employer was thinking of filing a police report against her.

Pushing the dark thought aside, she said she managed to complete the OHP registration at about 8:12pm but the airline staff told her they couldn’t accommodate her anymore as the check-in counter had closed.

Aside from Mateo, another Filipina, Rebecca Calma, who was also terminated after working here for a year, had the same fate. Both failed to make it to the boarding cut-off time so they were forced to spend the night at the airport.


Meantime, Mateo’s husband was left waiting at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. She said she was too embarrassed to tell him that she had missed her flight so said that it had been rescheduled the next day, thinking she could somehow get on the next available flight.

But being a former seafarer, her husband was flight-savvy enough to see through her excuse. Luckily, he did not have to travel far to get back home that night, as they live in Quezon City.

For Mateo, being bumped off her flight was the latest in a series of mishaps that happened when she decided to try her luck in Hong Kong after working in Qatar for two years, also as a domestic helper.

She said she had waited for a year and a half to get here, because her first employer had backed out when Hong Kong started tightening its inbound rules for foreign domestic workers. This included the flight ban, and then the long and tedious process of obtaining a slot in the designated quarantine places for FDWs.

Her persistence paid off when she was placed with a new employer and she managed to finally arrive here on Aug. 31 this year.

She said she then went straight to work for her at her employer’s house in Fo Tan, where her main tasks were looking after a couple and their four dogs. There was also her employer’s elderly mother she was supposed to help look after, along with another Filipina helper.

Press for details

Mateo said the work was not easy and the hours were long, but she was determined to learn and adjust to her new surroundings. She even agreed not to take a day off, hoping this would show her desire to learn the ropes quickly.

Despite this, her employer gave up on her after just one month, saying she had a poor grasp of what was expected of her. She was terminated on the spot on Sept. 30, and paid her salary for the month, plus another month’s pay in lieu of notice.

She was booked for her return flight to Manila the next day, and Mateo did not resist, thinking that she could just re-apply to come back once she got home.

Early on Oct 1, she asked for permission to go out, saying she needed to meet with a relative. But at a friend’s suggestion she took the chance to go to the Mission for Migrant Workers to seek advice, but it was closed as it was a holiday.


She then went to an employment agency and filled out an application form, hoping an employer might just pick her out and get her to come back quickly.

Once back at her employer’s house, however, she was told to work some more, as she was supposedly paid until that day. She finished her chores at 5pm and immediately packed her stuff and took a taxi to the airport, anxious not to miss her flight.

This advisory for Manila-bound passengers has been on the Consulate Facebook page since late May 

Mateo said that since she never took a day off during the entire month that she was here, she did not get the chance to talk at length to fellow Filipinos, nor consult with support organizations about her work-related concerns.

The employment agency that brought her here also did not guide her, so she was not aware that there were things she needed to do before she could get on her flight back to the Philippines.

But once she got stuck at the airport, she began searching online, and found the hotline for the Philippine Overseas Labor Office. When she called, she was told that she and Calma should have reached out earlier so they could have avoided being bumped off.

The next morning, the two got lucky when they met members of Social Justice for Migrant Workers who were sending off another friend who was bound for Canada. The group paid for their breakfast at McDonald’s and gave them money so they could go to Polo and get help.

With help from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Mateo’s Hong Kong agency was contacted, and told that since they failed to guide her well they should pay for her new plane ticket.

Mateo is now staying at the Polo shelter for the night, and is scheduled to fly out tomorrow, on the same Cebu Pacific flight that she missed earlier. But this time, she is making sure she completes the OHP declaration well ahead of time so she does not go through Saturday’s nightmare all over again.

Note: All travelers to the Philippines must register with OneHealthPass and obtain a personal QR code which they must present at the check-in counter, along with their vaccination record. Those who had three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine need not present any negative PCR test result obtained within 48 hours of departure. But this will be required of those who did not complete three doses, or are unvaccinated.


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