For foreigners who ‘live’ in Malay Municipality in the Philippines, which includes Boracay Island, there is a new requirement to board the ferry: a QR code. And for this for foreign resident, it’s turned into a confusing hassle.
Apparently, the new required code is also for any local Philippine person who doesn’t ‘live’ on Boracay, but who crosses to go to work or visit family.
Trying to get a QR code to visit Boracay
A week ago, on my weekly trip to the island, a notice was posted on the plastic partition that separates visitors from workers who check identifications and take contact numbers for tracing in the event there is a COVID-19 problem.
The notice directed visitors to go to a website to fill out the now necessary ‘health declaration’ form for anyone and everyone headed to Boracay. There are further instructions on the website, based on the type of visit you will have on Boracay, and the transport method in which you arrived to the port town of Caticlan.
It seems this new QR code requirement for locals was instituted a few weeks ago, but was slow to roll out. Last week was the first I’d heard of this – at the counter – but the announcement’s messaging does not appear to have been widely distributed.
Without a QR code last week, the jetty port workers let me enter as usual. They took my name, ID card, and phone number as they have done since June when we were first allowed to cross, following our initial lockdown and quarantine, and all of the regional and local lockdowns.
This week, as instructed, I have been trying to get a QR code. But: nothing. When I went back to the port this week, I was not alone in not having met the new requirement.
Thankfully, again the workers let me through, as usual.
But I really am trying to meet the new requirement. And it’s been frustrating.
Trust the process?
I went to the website and followed instructions. It’s pretty straightforward.
I filled out the form, which has no field for ‘day trip’. It demands you give a ferry name or flight number by which you arrived to Caticlan. The website form also requires a hotel name for your stay.
I’m pretty sure locals aren’t flying in or staying at hotels. I’m not, either. In those non-applicable fields, I wrote in “day trip” and “I live in Motag.”
Next, I confirmed I’ve not been exposed to any COVID-19 case on the health declaration portion, as well as answered other questions.
Once the application is submitted, the instructions require you to send an email to a Gmail account the government uses for this process with your ID attached.
Users are urged to send documents at least 6 hours in advance of a planned trip. The instructions say if you do not get a submission confirmation email within one hour, then email them again.
Well, it’s been two business days and five emails, and still no QR code.
A sign of hope
I did receive a reply to my third email on day two. It was from a provincial government account, not Gmail.
Please submit your travel documents here, (OHDC, Valid ID, RT-PCR Test Result, Hotel Booking confirmation, and flight details)
To this anonymous sender, I explained my situation – again. (Local residents are not required to get a COVID test.) I attached my ID – again.
Hopefully I will get this resolved soon. I do not expect any response or code over the weekend, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised. After all, there will still be travelers to Boracay on the weekend. Especially on the weekend.
Hopefully the government system for this new QR code requirement is working out its kinks and will be fully, effectively operational soon, and Theo will not have this headache when he tries to comply. Because next week, we have an appointment at the immigration office on Boracay.
And maybe (hopefully?) such a simple travel venture – across one mile of water – will not be as difficult in other places in the Philippines and in other countries. Because if it is, Earth Vagabonds are in for major travel troubles, if we ever get moving again.
Thanks for reading, “New requirement for local visitors to Boracay: QR code.”
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