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What Went Before: Briton spent 22 days at Naia 1

/ 07:10 AM September 19, 2014
LIVING OFF PINOY HOSPITALITY  The stranded British national Gary Peter Austin at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.  INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

LIVING OFF PINOY HOSPITALITY The stranded British national Gary Peter Austin at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–On Nov. 29, 2012, a 52-year-old British tourist, Gary Peter Austin, arrived in Manila and then went to Cebu province to see a friend he had met during an earlier trip to the Philippines.

On Dec. 17, Austin was supposed to leave the country on a Gulf Air flight. He arrived at the airport only on Dec 19. He missed his flight and failed to rebook another one.

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On Dec. 20, janitress Ma. Hannah Bulabon of Dasmariñas, Cavite province, met Austin at the departure area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1.

Bulabon said Austin introduced himself as an “international jockey” and a divorced man with a 12-year-old son. He said he hails from Newmarket, a town in England.

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“I first thought he was an airline employee because he wore a shirt with a Gulf Air logo,” Bulabon said. “He later said he had no ticket and only had P80. I gave him food. My coworkers also gave him donations in the spirit of the holiday season.”

“He was nice and said he was just waiting for a friend from Kuwait to help him. He slept on chairs with his luggage. He used the bathroom, changed clothes and kept himself neat,” Bulabon said.

Bulabon and the other workers did not immediately report Austin’s plight to their superiors. “We thought he knew what he was doing so we let him be,” she said. “I went about my work and I saw him every day.

Christmas and New Year passed.

Bulabon and her coworkers were wondering why Austin had not booked a flight yet. They were worried he might get arrested for overstaying.

Upon her and the other employees’ advice, Austin went back to the Gulf Air office to call the embassy. The airport’s public affairs office learned about his case and contacted the embassy.

According to airport authorities, Gulf Air said Austin’s e-ticket was canceled by his travel agent.

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On Jan. 9, 2013—after 22 days at the airport—the Briton was fetched by representatives of the British Embassy, who helped him book a flight home.–Inquirer Research

Source: Inquirer Archives

 

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TAGS: Gary Peter Austin, Immigration, Naia 1, penniless tourist, tourist
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