Allen Renquist, Jordan Gurnesy and I arrived at our hotel here in Manila early this morning (a little after 1am) after 30+hours of nonstop travel. All of us were pleased to finally have a chance to get a hot shower and stretch out for even a short night’s sleep.
But what was really the most satisfying feeling for all three of us was just how easy it was to get all nine duffel bags of water filters through Philippines Customs. We were concerned, to say the least. We were bringing in 700 waters filters in our checked baggage. For those of you who might not have ever attempted such a feat…well, it’s a big deal. It could have been “nightmare quality” difficult.
First, packaging 700 water filters is no simple task. As I mentioned, nine very full duffel bags. Then transporting nine duffel bags of filters to the airport at 0530 in the morning takes teamwork. Checking in for an international flight always takes a little longer than checking in for domestic flights. Try it with nine over-sized duffel bags.
Even getting nine duffel bags of water filters and personal luggage from the conveyor belt to the customs checkpoint takes a fair bit of coordination–especially after 30 hours of flying.
But what made the process so rewarding is that during every step there was an amazing amount of help. Stop Hunger Now staff went above & beyond their normal excellent work to ensure the filters would make it to the Philippines. Then when Delta Airlines found out the duffel bags contained humanitarian relief supplies they graciously allowed us to check the additional bags at no cost.
When we arrived in the Philippines all three of us were immediately struck by the appreciation shown to us by the Philippines Immigration & Customs officials. Several times we were thanked by the officials for coming to help. It surprised us. I cannot ever remember an immigration official ever thanking me before.
And when we finally took our three carts of water filter-filled duffel bags to Customs the official asked us what was in the bags. We told her. She didn’t open a single bag. She just stamped our customs forms, and then took the time to thank us for coming to the Philippines to help. What a great start to our time here.
It’s such little gestures that mean a lot, especially at one in the morning.