Flying to Manila? ready yourself for a swab test

Swab Test is it painful?

A few months past, I am one of those many Overseas Filipino workers who worries a lot about traveling to the Philippines at this time.

From the news, and information found online, it seems that process for going home is so complicated.

Top of the concerns of every traveler is to be infected with the coronavirus. And, second to that is the clarity of the quarantine process.

Who will pay for those? How many days it will really take? how about the quarantine facility standard, is it private or sharing with an unknown person?

A lot of questions and worries will arise in just having the thoughts of going home.

Despite being anxious about the above, Hubby and I decided that we will pursue our plan exiting UAE. So we started preparing ourselves, stuff, and check for plane tickets.

Let me share with you guys my experience and the steps I did from booking the ticket till we finally reach Manila.

waiting for turn for Swab Test

Waiting for Swab Test Turn


Flight Booking

Before this pandemic, the regular cost of a one-way ticket from UAE to Manila ranges from AED 1,000 – 1500.00. But this time is a different story

In my case, the cheapest one I got is a flat rate of AED 3,000 per person. (as per my agency this rate is applicable either Cebu Pacific, PAL, and Emirates Airline)

And since the flight is a charter or special flight only, this can only be purchase from a designated travel agency.

In terms of the travel date, be flexible as there is a limited flight available going to the Philippines.

Lastly, choose a reputable and good travel agency.

Prior to your flight

Make sure to fill up the below 2 links (your agent may send you or inform you about this)

Red cross – for swab testing (You will receive a QR code, save it to your mobile)

OWWA    – for OFW for accommodation

The address you need to mention is the final destination where you will be staying.

Filling up the two forms is very important for the smooth process upon arriving in Manila.

Ready your passport on hand before filling up, as the information should be based on it. You will be also uploading the passport copy and ID picture in the online link.

On the day of the flight

Let start with the basic, don’t ever forget your passport.

If you are holding a UAE residence visa, make sure that your employer will do the cancellation. Not having this will affect your future job application in case you are planning to come back.


Before landing, the crew will give you two forms to fill up.

Health declaration form

Bureau of Immigration

At the  Philippines airport
  • The first line from the aircraft is the Bureau of Quarantine, you will give here the Health Card Declaration form (then eye scan)
  • 2nd line will be for Red Cross, ready your QR code you receive the time you make the registration days before your flight.

I recommend you guys to fill this up before arriving in Manila. If not, you will be stress out not just in the long queue, but in signing the form up in the crowded area. I’ve seen many OFWs that are stress doing that, especially if they are not sure about the exact address of their final destination. So why you need to face that stressful scenario? Just fill it up ahead of time!

After the RedCross queue, next will be the swab test.

Don’t worry, it is not painful.

The next line after the Swab test will be the Immigration counter. Show your passport along with the barcode sticker (from the Red Cross line)

OWWA or DOT would be the last process documentation process

  • OWWA counter for all Overseas Filipino Worker (Land or Sea-based)
  • DOT for those holding a tourist visa abroad


There will be another form to be filled up, the staff will give you. You need to fill that up with the exact final destination.

From here, OWWA will give you the assigned hotel. In my case, they assigned us to Astro Hotel Monumento, then later they changed it to Hotel Dreamworld Las Pinas.

OWWA provided as well a free meal that day. Beefsteak with rice, corn, and water for drinks.

Free Dinner


After getting the assigned hotel, you can now proceed with baggage collection. Then you need to wait for the assigned bus to transfer to the hotel.

Swab test - luggage collection

Luggage collection

swab test bus waiting area

Bus waiting area

The OWWA team will be assisting until you reach your bus seat.

Social distancing on the bus is strictly implemented.


After the long process, we are finally set to the hotel quarantine facility.

The hotel stay should be for 3-5 days only. In my case, we spent a total of 7 nights.

Make sure to monitor your email, the result will be sent by email.

My advice to all OFW coming home soon is to bring a lot of patience and ready yourself for a stressful situation. The steps are easy guys, do not worry as the airport staff will guide you. But due to a massive number of arriving passengers, the system looks chaotic.

Before reaching the quarantine facility is a real tiring one but all worth it. The hotel we had is comfortable, clean and the staff is accommodating.

Swab test done

So tired, we reached the airport around 12 noon and finally checked-in by 10:00 pm

Base on our experience  Patience is the only key to maintain your calmness. Extending a little patience means a lot to everyone at this time.

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