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Found

An update on the lost and found story shared in my previous column: the daughter’s lost mobile phone has been found. Almost two weeks after declaring it lost, finding it temporarily, and somehow losing it again in their system, I got a WhatsApp message from the Changi Terminal 1 lost and found office. They sent front (powered on) and back photos of the lost phone and asked me to confirm that it was indeed the item.

Upon checking the photos, it was confirmed that the phone our daughter lost at our seats near the boarding gate of our flight back to Manila at T1 of the Changi Airport had been found.

This might be an unremarkable lost and found story for the good people of the Changi Airport, but for a Filipino like me, this is amazing.

Let’s not even consider how the lost item made it to lost and found, because I’m sure that can still happen here in the Philippines, as long as there are good-hearted people and there is a working lost and found system in the facility or building an item is unfortunately lost. Because if you come to think of it, most Filipinos are good-hearted people, so as long as it wasn’t deliberately stolen, anyone who finds a lost mobile phone will at the very least try to help get it back to its owner. However, without a lost and found system, that becomes a little bit more difficult and that is something we don’t really have, even in our favorite places of leisure: the country’s many shopping malls.

What makes finding our lost mobile phone extra impressive is that we lost it in a foreign country, 2,400 kilometers away. In any normal situation, what one would do upon losing an item is to go to the lost and found office (granted it exists), and either report the item as lost or personally comb through the found items to see if it is there.

We obviously couldn’t do that, and our only means of communicating with the lost and found office was through WhatsApp and email. The only thing we could do was describe the phone and where and when we thought it was lost. We also had the name of the finder who we were able to talk to before it was turned over the lost and found.

The phone was in the system, but the initial search using the reference number we were provided connected it to the wrong item. And since we weren’t there, someone had to do the searching within the system. As a Filipino with limited experience with lost and found desks, I couldn’t imagine how someone would go through the trouble of finding a teenager’s Xiaomi budget phone in a mountain of lost items. That is why, after providing all the info I could in our communications, I honestly gave up on it. After all, we had done what we could do. C’est la vie.

I may have given up because there was nothing more to do, but the folks at the Changi lost and found apparently didn’t. Despite almost no follow up after our initial communication where I realized it was found but lost within the system, they continued searching for it, found it, and contacted me in the number I provided.

How’s that for first-world lost and found service?

I knew from the onset that I’d be impressed with Singapore’s public transport system and even its “lowly” HDB’s, but I never imagined I’d be blown away by something that I’ve never thought about such as an airport’s lost and found office, which simply emphasizes the yawning gap between our country and its supposed idol. We are a long way from having anything like their train and bus system, we won’t be having any HDB-like housing project anytime soon, and there is probably no way in my lifetime that my country is going to have a lost and found office like the one their Changi Airport has.

By this weekend, the lost phone will probably be claimed by my SG-based sister-in-law. By early next month, it could find its way back to its owner if it manages to hitch a ride home. Not bad for misplacing a cellphone in a foreign land. If this happened in the Philippines, we would’ve already gone phone shopping because such is life in a third world country.*

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