“Meet a Filipino”
That’s the first thing I need to do the moment I arrive Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Its not that mandatory but it would be really helpful if I meet one. There aren’t that much information about Brunei on the web. It is just amazing how I easily managed to meet one.
“Hi, are you going to Brunei?”, I asked a random woman sitting next to me. We are waiting for the check in counter to open.
“Yes. How about you?”, she asked.
“Yes. I will go to Brunei. Are you working there?”
“I am. And you?”
“No. I’m there to travel”
“Good for you. How long are you going to travel?”
“Not that much. I will be spending around a day and a half in Brunei and a few days in Malaysia”
“I’m Darby by the way”
Jen is an OFW in Brunei. She just had a 13 day vacation in the Philippines. I love talking to OFWs as it is part of my job. Their stories are copy paste stories. “I miss home”, “If only there are opportunities in the Philippines”, “Working in a foreign land is difficult”… The uniformity of the stories of OFWs is only an emphasis that they are never living an easy life.
“So do you have a place to stay in Brunei?”, she asked.
“Yes. I will be hosted by a girl in Bandar Seri Begawan”
“Is she a local?”
“Yes she is.”
“Where did you meet her?”
“Well I haven’t met her yet in person.”
I don’t want to stress her about the ins and outs of Couchsurfing so I just told her that I am a member of a travel organization. Glad she didn’t asked me to expound it. Explaining Couchsurfing is not easy as 1-2-3.
“Jen, is it difficult to acquire a sim card in Brunei? I need to text my host as soon as I arrive the airport. Or are you aware if there’s a wifi connection in Brunei Airport?”.. I felt a bit guilty about asking these questions. I was actually asking her if I could make use of her phone the moment I arrive in Brunei.
“Don’t worry about that. You can call your host in Brunei using my phone. It’s very difficult to get a simcard there since they have to register everything. Not like in the Philippines, you can buy sim cards everywhere”
I felt I was such a jerk. But she indeed was sent by God from above.
After a couple of minutes, the check in counter opened. We both stood up, carried my bag and volunteered to push her cart. She’s carrying heavy bags, which made me think that I am as well heaven sent for her. I am a good bag carrier and a cart pusher.
“Darby, lets ask the counter to reserve seats for us so that we will be sitting next to each other”
“That would be perfect Jen!”
It was indeed perfect. Jen got the 1A seat, I got the 1B.
After registering everything from the check in counter, travel tax counter, terminal fee counter, and immigration counter, we both walked to the gates with smiles on our faces. I fear immigration officers. I have nothing to hide or anything, but they will always have these aura that tells you everything will never be alright. I believe its part of their job to be scary.
While waiting for our boarding time, Jen suddenly stood up and began worrying. “Oh gosh, my boarding pass is lost. I can’t find it in my bag”
“Double check it”, as I began to worry as well.
“I think the officer forgot to give it to me”
“Check it out there”
She left her bags with me and rushed back to the immigration office. It’s really far actually. Her face was mixed with fear and anger. I can’t blame her.
After a couple of minutes, she was back carrying with her a small piece of paper. She was neither happy nor sad about it. “I found it. The immigration officer failed to give it to me” she gasps. Then her phone rang. I cannot understand what she’s talking about but she started to talk angrily. I never attempted to ask her after the call. I don’t want her to think I’m too nosy since we just met.
After 2 hours of waiting, the plane arrived and the staff of the airline opened the gate. We sat on our respective places and relaxed as the plane took off.
After a couple of hours, Jen tapped my back.
“Darby. Call the flight attendant. Quickly”
I stood up, called the Senior Flight attendant who was sitting in front of our “front row” seats. The Junior Flight attendant followed as she recognized that this is a serious matter.
“What happened here?”, the Senior FA asked.
“I’m not really sure. She told me to call you”, I answered. During that time, Jen was all white. Her red lips suddenly became light brown, then white. I took the vomit bag, opened it and gave it to Jen if in case she’s under motion sickness.
“I cannot feel my legs and fingers”, Jen said on a soft voice. “My ears are hot and I’m about to faint”
The woman sitting on 1C was worried as well. “Are you hypertensive?”, the woman asked.
“No. I’m not”, Jen answered.
“Anemic?”, the woman in 1C asked again.
“Do you have a problem?” she asked again. That moment, I was bit annoyed at the woman in 1C. How could she ask such things? But I realized that her intentions were pure. She was scared like the rest of us.
The Senior Attendant massaged Jen’s hands. I looked at the back seats and they were all staring at us, trying to know what the hell is happening. Jen was still white as snow.
“Do you want a candy?” I asked. I’m confident to ask since I am bringing some local chocolates for my host in Brunei. But the Junior Attendant went back to their little pantry, took a piece from an expensive looking White Chocolate bar and handed it to Jen.
“You eat it Jen.” I comforted her. I was really sad that moment. How could this happen to her all at the same time? Losing her boarding ticket, shouting at something on the phone, and now this thing that is threatening her life.
After a minute, a tall guy wearing a black suit approached us. He was carrying this herbal oil and placed some on Jen’s palm.
“Now you smell it”, the guy said. I have to admit that the smell is really relaxing. Even the flight attendants and the woman in 1C were pleased.
The guy, who seemed like a fan of alternative medicine took Jen’s hand and massaged it. “This will be a bit painful”, he warned Jen. But all of us didn’t mind. We really need to save Jen’s life. After some cracks on her fingers, she felt ok.
“Look. Your lips are red again”, the Senior attendant said.
“Thanks to all of you. I’ve been riding a lot of airplanes but this is my first time to feel this. I thought I’m going to die here”, she said.
I tapped her back and smiled at her. “Glad you are ok”, I smiled again. The woman in 1C placed her shoulder around Jen’s back and comforted her. The woman was really motherly. Now I understand why she asked Jen earlier if she has a problem.
After a couple of minutes, the pilot reported that we will be landing shortly.
Upon landing, I carried her bags again and kept on telling her to look for a doctor first thing in the morning. She agreed.
“So here’s my phone, you can call your host”, she said.
“Nah. I’ll just text her.”
“No. You call her.”
“It’s ok. Text will do”
After receiving a text confirmation from my host, Jen and I parted ways. For the last time, I reminded her to keep safe and go for a checkup. The person who picked her up in the airport was a bit confused on why I told her to go for a check up.
People are naturally helpful. It is an innate thing and that what makes our species so special. What happened in the airport is a proof that humanity is not dead. People will help even though you are just a stranger. The Senior and Junior attendants, the woman in 1C and the guy in the black suit were the heroes of Jen’s story. I am as well part of that story.
But for this story, Jen is my hero.
This is just the start of my adventure. Stories of amazing People I met will not end here.
To be continued…