I learned it the hard way. Very hard, but amusing way!
Late in 2016, we started processing my brother’s papers for his employment in Canada. It took us around six months to prepare all the requirements including his passport. We submitted the documents via the MyCIC website in April 2017, I did everything online.
Everything happened so fast – medical exam, submission of passport, and claiming of visa. It all happened in less than two months. We never seek assistance from an agency nor asked help from a third party, a move that we later on regret not doing. We have the visa, we thought that’s all we need. In June 2017, we immediately booked his flight and he’s set to leave in three weeks.
His flight schedule is 9AM, so we left Quezon City at 4AM. On our way to the airport, I had this strange feeling that something is not quite right. I just still couldn’t believe that it happened so fast, that it is even possible to do it that quick. When we passed by the POEA office in Ortigas, I had this deep sigh of relief thinking that we didn’t have to go through all the process inside that building. I would often see long lines there in the past and it surely looks depressing.
We got at the airport two hours too early. We didn’t let him in until 7AM, just enough time for checkin. My sister and I proceeded to the waiting area inside the terminal and decided to wait until his plane takes off.
15 minutes later, my phone started ringing. My brother was calling and I knew that something was wrong.
Imagine our horror when we learned that airport staff were looking for a document called OEC! We were in shock!
We did try our best to possibly get him through to no avail, but we stayed calm and present. It took awhile for everything to sink in but we knew we have to keep moving. We gathered all the information we needed and left the airport. That was my longest EDSA trip ever!
We spent the next five weeks literally running around Metro Manila to process his OEC. Although we knew we can’t relax until he actually makes it to Canada, we were laughing at the whole experience all throughout. We complied with all the rules of DOLE and POEA, two agencies that I wish I will never have to deal with ever again.
He finally took his flight in August 2017 and landed in Vancouver safely. It’s been four months (as of this writing) and I still couldn’t believe that this happened to us, and how we actually managed the whole thing. I am proud to say that we dealt with it peacefully. It was quite an experience, but definitely something that I do not wish anyone to go through!
So if you are leaving the country as an OFW for the first time, make sure that you have an OEC prior to booking your plane ticket. You may proceed to POEA directly for inquiries, or look for an agency that could help. Make sure that the agency is legit, visit http://poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/aglist.asp for the list of POEA-accredited agencies.