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Lost and almost found

A couple of weeks ago, our daughter lost her mobile phone at Singapore’s Changi airport, when we were on our way back to the Philippines from our revenge travel trip.

She noticed it was missing at around 4 a.m., as our airplane was starting its descent into Manila and we were starting to wake up and take stock of our stuff. After the most frantic search that our crowded confines would allow, followed by a peek under the seats to make sure it didn’t fall and slide around while we were sleeping, we decided to accept her fate, gather our stuff, and exit the aircraft.

At that point, there wasn’t anything left to do but inform the flight attendants and ground crew of the lost cellphone and then proceed to immigration and baggage claim and customs.

The daughter was lucky because she was having issues uploading her Vaxcert using her phone, so she completed her One Health Pass on my phone, which meant we had a copy to show the OHP inspectors at the airport. If not, we would’ve been further delayed and inconvenienced by the loss of the phone which would’ve contained the only copy of her OHP.

Anyway, our dawn arrival made the immigration process relatively painless, and we were out of the NAIA terminal 1 in a relatively painless manner.

At that point, we already had a rough idea where the phone was forgotten, which is the predeparture boarding gate at the Changi airport. As per usual-lost phone Hail Mary, I sent a message to the lost phone, declaring it lost and giving my number, just in case a good Samaritan picked it up. I didn’t expect that to work, but at least I could tell myself I tried. I also consoled myself that there was still a chance because we lost the phone in Singapore, not the Philippines where the chances of recovery are much slimmer.

We had an 8-hour layover, which we spent with the in-laws in Mandaluyong. They picked us up from the airport that morning and we were at their home just before 6 a.m.

At 6:05 a.m., my phone rang, and the caller was the lost phone! I wasn’t able to answer the call quickly enough, but when I returned the call, there was a lady on the other end who told me she found the lost phone. During that two-minute conversation, she told me that the phone will be left with T1 (Terminal 1) lost and found and I thanked her and told her that my sister-in-law who lives in Singapore will be claiming it. After getting her name and thanking her again, we hung up.

By 6:22 a.m., I had received a WhatsApp message (that’s their preferred messaging app there), giving me a reference number for the lost item. My sister-in-law also got the same message.

How about that? My daughter’s phone was officially lost in a foreign country for less than 6 hours before it was able to contact us and put itself in the Changi Airport lost and found system. The problem was, even if her Tita Chris could claim it, the item was approximately 2,400 kilometers away.

To complicate matters a bit, when her Tita Chris went to the airport to claim the phone, they couldn’t find it. Somehow, the reference number that was messaged to us didn’t match the lost item. Because of that, she went home empty handed and we couldn’t worry about the next stage of the internationally lost phone recovery process yet as the phone was still somehow lost within the lost and found system.

At this point, a couple of weeks have passed, along with a few follow up emails. However, I’m still confident that the lost phone is just there, already within the system, and they will find it soon. We have provided further details, including the name of the finder, the boarding gate we think it was lost, and a timeline of the calls made when it was found, as per the call logs. Adding to my confidence that there will be a happy but logistically challenging ending to this little travel story is the fact that we are referring to the land of efficiency and furthermore, it’s not an iPhone or any fancy flagship model that gets “lost” more easily.

Maybe it’s just the afterglow of being impressed with the Singapore experience so far, but I still have a good feeling about how this side quest will end.*

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December 2022
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