Friday, April 26, 2019

Apr 03 19, 4:11 am

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“The Terminal’ Pinay stranded in Sri Lanka airport for 6 days

by | EDITOR’S CHOICE

Apr. 03, 19 | 4:11 am

IF life imitates art, 34-year old Sunshine Sereno should’ve wished she would be Catherine Zeta Jones.

But fate wanted to be insidiously funny sometimes. Sereno found herself being the Tom Hanks in the movie “The Terminal” — being stranded at the Sri Lanka international airport, penniless.

Susan Ople, who heads the NGO named after her father Blas Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, narrated that Sereno was a worker in a Middle East country and she was illegally recruited. After more than a month, she said could not tolerate the working conditions, and she requested to be repatriated back to the Philippines.

Her flight though was circuitous — Doha-Colombo-Hong Kong-Manila. In Colombo, she had to stay overnight.

“When it was time to board, the ground personnel told Sunshine that her employer cancelled the ticket. She could not board the plane. Neither could she go out of the airport without the appropriate visa. On top of that, she faces arrest by the immigration police unless she can produce a ticket home,” Ople said in her column at Business Mirror.

“All that information sank in slowly, and a shocked Sunshine broke down in tears,” Ople added.

After pleading with the Sri Lankan immigration authorities, Sereno was allowed to stay in Colombo airport until she gets the money to buy for ticket back to Manila.

The rest seems like a replay of “The Terminal.”

“Sunshine begged for biscuits, drank from a public drinking fountain and used the airport’s washroom with her hand-carry bag in tow. She would approach complete strangers that used free charging facilities for their phones, to ask for a few minutes to borrow their phone charger…

“The staff [of an airline] gave her food, once a day, which soon became twice a day. The maintenance and janitorial crew of the airport became her good friends. She cried a lot, and would occupy empty seats to sleep,” Ople said.

Good thing — Colombo airport has a free wi-fi service. Sereno informed her sister in Hong Kong and a family friend in Russia about her situation.

The family friend contacted Ople through FB Messenger. Ople then contacted the DFA who then called the honorary consul in Colombo.

Six days after, Sereno was able to get new ticket from her sister and her flight back to Manila was facilitated.


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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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