After much anticipation and preparation it was finally time to make our move to the Philippines. We had two flights and an 8 hour layover in Singapore’s Chiangi Airport between us and Manila, all of which ran very smooth despite the lack of sleep! We arrived in Manila at 6am after almost 24 hours in transit and proceeded to the immigration desk.
Unsure of what the immigration officer would say to our plan to stay for 7 weeks (instead of the standard 30 days) we approached the desk and were unexpectedly greeted with a smile as she took our documents. As she read through our immigration cards she looked up and asked where we were staying and the reason for our trip. After giving her the details of the organisation she asked us to wait whilst she spoke to her supervisor. She returned after a short while and informed us that they were happy to grant us the visa extension with no fee or need to visit the embassy. Although this is not uncommon for volunteers it felt like she had gone out of her way to help us and as we walked away she thanked us and said “we appreciate your help”. Wow! Those few words and the sincerity in her face gave us a lump in our throats, the reality of what we are about to experience and the realisation of some of the things we are likely to see is starting to feel more real.
Just 3 days to go until we make our way to Tacloban, just enough time to go and spend some of the money we have raised so far on school and hardware supplies.