Feature Story

The Philippine Terminal, a sort of reprise of the movie “The Terminal”

By Benjie Lim Vergara

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport © rappler.com

A JAPANESE traveler was stranded at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport just like the character Victor Navorski, played by Tom Hanks, in the comedy-drama movie “The Terminal,” who was marooned at the John F. Kennedy International Airport for nine months.

Except for the stranded part, however, the similarity ends there as unlike Navorski, who was stuck at the airport following a coup d’etat in his country that rendered him stateless thus ineligible to travel or enter the United States, Tetsuya Makita fell victim to three alluring thieves who took advantage of his kindness and stole his luggage and was thus stuck at the NAIA for four days.

Lt. Jaime Estrella of the Airport Police Department said on June 16, while waiting for his Narita, Japan-bound flight at the departure curbside of NAIA’s Terminal 1; the 58-year old Tetsuya was approached by three young beautiful female, one of whom engaged him in a conversation.

While conversing and obviously distracted, Estrella said, the other women surreptitiously took Tetsuya’s luggage which contained his passport, other important documents, cellular phones and around Y50,000 (PhP24,255.50). At this point, the lady who was chatting with the victim took her leave and immediately disappeared among the crowd. Moments later, Tetsuya found out that he lost all his personal belongings, Estrella said.

Tetsuya reported the incident to the Airport Police Station at NAIA 1. However, since he has no his travel documents, he was not allowed to board his flight.

Estrella then offered his office to Tetsuya for him to stay while he asked the Japanese Embassy, in his behalf, for  temporary travel documents so he could go home.

Finally, on Wednesday, Tetsuya received his papers from his embassy and was finally allowed by Philippine immigration authorities to leave for Japan at about 2 pm. Before boarding his flight, Tetsuya profusely thanked the APD for their support, Estrella said.


Benjie Vergara
A veteran reporter covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. He is currently writing for Manila Times, the Philippines' oldest newspaper.

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