World Youth Day, err, Denied

VISA DENIED! Hosted by photobucket.comThe World Youth Day participants in Germany are now eagerly looking forward to meeting Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne two days from now. Meanwhile, those of us who had to remain in the Philippines because the German Embassy denied our visa application–effectively banning us from the gathering–are back in our offices, schools, or churches. Although we feel really hurt and disappointed, we understand that life must go on.

Last night, Mhay and I visited the office of Alab ng Kabataang Pilipino (AKAP) to get our passports and request for refunds. As we entered the AKAP office, I felt like I was attending a neighbor’s wake. There were some familiar faces, but the atmosphere was gloomy. The usual cheerful mood is gone, and I was attacked by this awkward feeling when you do not know what to say or how to start a conversation. It was like having trouble speaking with one whose relative just passed away. In this case, I did not know what to tell these people who, like me, had failed dreams of going to a foreign land, share experiences with other young people from other countries, and of course, meet the one who replaced our dear Pope John Paull II.

We visited the AKAP office several times during the application process to join the World Youth Day: during the orientation, the screening interviews, when we submitted our papers, when we deposited our initial payment, and before we went to Tagaytay for the pre-World Youth Day retreat (which now reminds me so much of my 1995 World Youth Day experience) with Father Larry Faraon. All those times, the young and not so young people radiated an aura of excitement. It was different last night, and it was probably worse last Friday, when the German Embassy snubbed our final appeals for reconsideration.

Angel Hill Chapel in Tagaytay where we held the pre- World Youth Day retreat. Image hosted by Photobucket.com Posing ala-World Youth Day complete with Philippine flag Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Mhay and I during the pre-World Youth Day retreat. Image hosted by Photobucket.com With World Youth Day friends Kuya Rene and Giles. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The AKAP people asked us to enter the room–the same room where we deposited our initial payment two months ago. There were also some would-be delegates claiming refunds and planning a possible Asian trip. We were given our passports, and we also requested for a copy of the letter from the Embassy. It’s curious how the 06-14-2005 on the subject was replaced with 23 Juni 2005–the date when Mhay and I were interviewed. Could it be possible that what AKAP told us was true–that our visa application was denied even before we were interviewed?

We were also given initial refunds of $300 each, but we had to give it back after they verifed our records. They told us that they are only giving initial refunds to those who have paid the full package, which include the airline tickets. Those of us who gave only the initial payment will have to wait for probably a week to get our money back.

Before we left, we asked for the delegate’s uniforms–which, we was part of the P5,000 joining fee that we have paid earlier. They gave us the jacket and the the shirts, which we will never get to use in the 20th World Youth Day, anyway.

In an attempt to recover part of the expenses which we will never be able to refund, such as the visa application fee and the interview and joining fees, I decided to post at the auctions site eBay the jacket and other World Youth Day souvenir items.


World Youth Day jacket
World Youth Day cap. Image hosted by Photobucket.com World Youth Day keychain. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

May it also serve as a way to remember the irony that many young Filipinos–a people close to the heart of the founder of World Youth Day, and people of the country that hosted the “biggest gathering of people of all times” with Pope John Paul II in 1995–were banned from experiencing the pilgrimage in Germany.

I am looking forward to the time when people of other countries will stop looking at the Philippines as a country of people who would grab every opportunity to be illegal immigrants (TNT) in the United States or in Europe. When that happens, there will probably be no more discriminations against us, Filipinos, and we will probably be allowed to join in as many international gatherings as we wish, whether we are in a big group of 600 or not.

WYD 2005 News from Yahoo!

31 thoughts on “World Youth Day, err, Denied

  1. Don’t worry Ederic and Mhay, there will be other opportunities….

    But it pains me to know that our Filipino youth weren’t able to join such a great gathering. Alam ko ang problema, yan pa nga lang nag a-apply pa lang ng visa, paano kung pag hanap na ng trabaho o pag tira sa ibang bansa? I just keep mum about it.

    Hopefully next time makasama na ang Filipino youth….

  2. Don’t worry Ederic and My. I trust that your faith in God will get you through this one. Obviously it wasn’t His will for you, though it may sometimes be hard, we all all have to surrender to His plan. There’s this song which goes, “You know better than i.”

  3. Blame this on the thousands of Filipinos who never returned after WYD 2000 in Rome. It was there that the black precedent was set. The only reason I managed to get my visa for Toronto (WYD 2002) wa because I had a US visa (among others) and had several return stamps on my pasport prior to 2000. My friends, who had gotten their first passports just for the occasion, were denied without interview.

    Better luck preparing for WYD Sydney 2008. The Aussies, being regular partners of ASEAN, might be more forgiving.

  4. it hurts tlaga..but we have to accept the truth,eventhough they’wre not give enough reason for such denial,tanggapin na lang natin,, Like me, as a student, im so excited of the said event, my friends, professors,barkadas, and relatives give me money,ncklace and bracelet which i planning to trade to the other people in germany, but because of the denial , i shamefully returnd all those things. thAT’S LYF,…But i still cherish all the happy moment ive experienced when i join the retreat(by the way ederic is my group mate,if im not mistaken Group ^the stage director?)and i wish na sana next world youth day eh Sana po, kasama na me.

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  6. i only get to think about this now, but sayang pala, sana baka may naitulong kahit paano kung may recommendation kayo from some reps. sorry ederic ha.

  7. A recommendation from the local ordinary would’ve gone a long way in convincing the German embassy. Especially if your ordinary is well-known. (If I recall correctly, those with recommendation letters signed by Cardinal Sin had it easier with the visa process during WYD 2002.)

  8. Thanks for the additional info.

    A few questions: Why did they only give you the refusal at the last minute? Was there the expectation that they were going to let you in and then at the last minute they didn’t? Or were you already aware that this might be a problem? Was there any kind of appeal process offered? Is there any advice given to you all about what can be done in the future?

    If I understand correctly, it sounds like some of your fellow citizens did you a terrible injustice by staying in a country that was not their own-and thereby giving Filipino’s a bad name. As the saying goes, it only takes a few bad apples…It is unfortunate that they hold all of you responsible for their actions.

    Is there step that can be taken for you to be able to go to WYD in Australia? Is anyone doing anything to help you in Germany?

    I apologize for all these questions and I certainly don’t mean to offend, but I’m asking for clarity and understanding.

    God bless you all and I hope that you are able to celebrate our wonderful Catholic heritage even though you all were unable to go to WYD. There are many of us in the world who were not able to go for various reasons and take comfort that we join you in prayer as well as Faith!

  9. Ederic, I’m so sorry that your visas were denied to Germany. As a Filipino-American, it pains me when I hear things like what you describe. My uncle, who practically raised one of my cousins, had his visa request denied to the US, so as a result, he missed my cousin’s wedding in Los Angeles, and this did not set well with any of us.

    Unfortunately, there are too many people who overstay tourist visas, and therefore, become TNT. And with all the abuses, frankly speaking, it does not surprise me that those who want to visit the US or Europe or other places have their visa requests denied. It’s such a shame that everyone is punished for the sins of a few.

    My prayers are with you with the hopes that you will be able to attend the next WYD.

  10. My prayers are with you for this. No offense to the people who denied the access but this is discriminating and an insult yet a reflecting moment on us, Filipinos- on where we were wrong when it happened.

    It hurts, yet life must go on.

  11. Hello! I am one of the delegates of World Youth Day from Cebu. I have trouble getting refund from AKAP. They’ve been giving us various reasons why they cannot even show us the original plane ticket, if they really bought it. Is there any news from your end since you’re from Manila?

    Maya

  12. Regarding ticket refund, why so sudden that AKAP wants us to deal directly with their lawyers and with the airline????? Is there something fishy going on…. Jovi, please explain…..

  13. Guys from Manila, please constantly follow up AKAP for the refund and give us an update here. My fellow delegates went to Manila a number of times, all for nothing. AKAP just gives them photocopies of documents even if they asked to see the originals (how would we really know that all our money went to the airline, WYD, or embassy)? Tickets are handwritten pa and there’s no record locator #. Even the airlines are washing their hands off the matter they would only say the tickets are w/ AKAP and won’t give any more info. I’m worried that we won’t be refunded at all na and would lose our hard-earned (with tears and sweat) money. I suggest you also write to the Wyd Commission if they will refund our World Youth Day fees.

  14. hi Edric! I1mso thankful dahil ang ate ko nkasama sa WYD,ayaw na nga nya sana kc thursday narelease ang visa nya kelangan mkbili kaagad sya ng tiket,dahil sunday ang alis nila,sa church namin hundreds din cla nagapply 4 visa,5 lang sila nasama,the problem is hindi ganoon kadali makakuha ng pera para sa tiket at poket money mo sa tulad naming hindi ganoon kayaman,pero plano ciguro un ni lord para sa knya,kya miracle ang pagalis nya,tom,August 28 uuwi na sya ,were hoping and praying na makauwi sya ng maayos at ipabalita ang magandang nangyari dun.

  15. I wanna sell something at EBay in the U.S. also to recover my expenses like my plane tickets to Manila, the amount I paid to Akap, etc…. I bought native items supposedly for the trade fair. Can you give me tips on how I can go about it like how to receive payment and what freight company I could use to send my items? It seems Paypal service is not available to the Philippines. I’m at a loss too regarding Ebays policies on buying and selling. Do we still pay Ebay the insertion fees even if we aren’t able to sell the item? I can’t even avail of ID verify coz it’s not available here.

  16. …sadly it can be understood why such laws have been enforced. as unfair as it is for the rest, so many people have taken advantage of such a situation.

    i was at the wyd, i was born in the philippines, but was brought up in sydney. im here in london currently on a UK working holiday visa like a lot of australians. i realise how fortunate i am.

    at the wyd in germany i met many filipinos from all over. a few from philippines, and one of the priests i met shared that they came as a whole group and about 10 of them escaped (if one can use the term loosely) therefore he knew he had to answer to the embassy since he vouched for them. though understandable due to the tough times in the philippines, it only makes it harder for genuine people to seek honest avenues for reputations are built.

    i can only say im sorry that you missed out on the wyd germany experience, but god willing you’ll be in sydney.

    be blessed!

  17. im one of the delegates…were also having a hard time getting the refunds…we paid the 1660$…we only got the 300$… AKAP told us questions will be answered by the lawyer but ATTY ALFONSO TAN JR is out of his office most of the time…then one of the GULF AIR number that they gave is not working 5236316..the other one 5257762 is always busy …is it possible that we sue this organization? there are so many inaccuracy and inconsistency on their reports…and the CHARI ZARATE together with his son JOVI ZARATE is not visible on the AKAP office…

  18. Wednesday, December 15, 2004
    Ex-youth dad accused of pocketing P101,000
    By Raquel C. Bagnol

    * Complainants were applying to be caregivers in Canada and promised to be accommodated as delegates to the World Youth Day celebration after which their tourist visa will be converted to working visa

    THE City Prosecutor’s Office (CPO) has affirmed its earlier resolution and charged a former city councilor and president of the Youth Council and two others for allegedly pocketing P105,000 intended for the trip to World Youth Day celebration in Canada in 2002.

    Prosecutor Emilio Dayanghirang III said that after conducting a re-investigation, there was no sufficient evidence to dismiss the estafa charge against former Youth Council president and city councilor Isidro Calonia, Jr., Rodolfo Corgado, manager of R2C2 Travel and Consultancy Information Services, and Richard Ancheta, employee of Alab ng Kabataan Pilipino (Akap) Mindanao.

    The charges were filed by Henrietta Pogoy, Precilla Senoc, Maredel Lorenzo, Jonathan Pineda and Jorlan Dathan, all of Davao City, against Calonia and his co-accused.

    In their joint-affidavit, the complainants said that Corgado allegedly hired them as caregivers for Canada in the R2C2 office inside a hotel in Bajada, Davao City sometime in May 2002.

    Corgado allegedly assured them of a position provided they pay a placement fee of P50,000.

    They also claimed that they paid the amount to Corgado after receiving assurance that the money will be returned to them if their Visa application will be denied.

    In June 2002, the complainants said Corgado directed them to coordinate with Calonia and Akap who were supposed to facilitate their travel to Canada as delegates to the World Youth Day celebration.

    They also said that Calonia allegedly told them their tourist visa will be converted to working visa as soon as they pay P105,000 to them.

    They however were dismayed that despite having paid the required amount, only Calonia and the other respondents left for Canada on July 17, 2002, leaving the complainants behind.

    When the complainants demanded for a refund, Calonia allegedly told them to send their payment receipt to the head office of Akap in Manila but the money was not returned, prompting them to file the case before the CPO.
    (December 15, 2004 issue)

  19. to AKAP delegates this article will surely raise your eyebrows! Hold on to your sits!
    NBI probes WYD scam (manila Standard Today)
    By Joel Zurbano

    The National Bureau of Investigation is investigating a woman and her son who allegedly victimized more than 600 people who applied as participants in the World Youth Day(WYD) event in Cologne, Germany last month but ended up in the blacklist of the German embassy.
    Head agent Nelson Bartolome, chief of the NBI Anti-Organized Crime Division, said the bureau also asked the Bureau of Immigration to place the suspects, Rosauro Zarate and her son Jose Vicente Zarate, under its watchlist to prevent them from leaving the country.
    Bartolome said the NBI summoned the Zarates to shed light on the case but the suspects snubbed the invitation. The NBI is now planning to file charges of large-scale illegal recruitment and estafa against the suspects.
    “We gave them (Zarates) time to explain their side but they failed to appear. So, we’re now thinking to refer this case to the DoJ for preliminary investigation,” said Bartolome.
    Also under investigation are Zarates’ supposed cohorts who were identified as Roseller Saballo, Robert Morado, Ashley de la Cruz, Dexter Bariaud, Edsel Dionisio and Don Michael Gonzalez.
    “We will also invite these people for questioning,” said Bartolome.
    Bartolome said 31 of the 600 victims have already filed their complaints against the suspects.
    Initial investigation showed that the Zarates, using a nongovernmental organization called Alab ng Kabataang Pilipino Inc. (Akap), recruited the victims to join the Philippine delegation to the World Youth Day celebration held last Aug. 16 to 21 in Cologne, Germany.
    In their complaint, the victims told investigators that the Zarates asked them for $1,660 each as payment for the “WYD” package, which purportedly included the airfare (round trip ticket), food, land transportation, hotel accommodation in France and Germany.
    “We’re also wondering why Zarates’ staff gave us photocopies of plane tickets. Why photocopies if the tickets were under our names, why not the original ticket?” said 36-year-old Gem, one of the victims.
    Bartolome said most of the victims were professionals, including doctors, nurses, local politicians, journalists and business executives. He added the victims came mostly from Metro Manila, Pampanga, Bulacan, Quezon and Batangas.
    Bartolome said the NBI also received information that the German embassy denied the entire 600 victims’ application for visa and put their names in the blacklist because some of the delegates had fraudulent documents and planned to stay in Europe as TNTs or illegal aliens.
    Although Akap is registered with Securities and Exchange Commission, officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines also did not recognize the group as part of the Philippine delegation to the WYD.
    Further investigation disclosed that the Zarates had a pending case of illegal recruitment filed in Davao City in 2002

  20. try calling this number. it may be jovy’s or the other officers of AKAP that kept on sending SMS back then to join their group. 0922-8985684

  21. Hello all,

    I know this is for some of you still a lingering pain – I know it is for my dear sister-in-law. I’m from Belgium and my filipina wife and I had invited my father-, brother-, and sister-in-law to come over after the WYD was finished – since it would be a Schengen visa for 3 months anyway. They were denied. I faxed, called, emailed you name it, the embassies of Germany and the one in Manila. My sister-in-law followed up the AKAP from her side and got kinda far in doing so. I got one reply back saying that the embassy reserves the right not to give the reason of denial, but just like some of you, the date of denial was before the actual interview date! This, together with the fact that they are not being refunded for anything so far after numerous complaints and questions, made me go on this personal crusade to figure out who is the legal responsible in this matter: it’s a pure disgrace and crime in my eyes! I’m turning now to any and everyone who could tell me if there has been any legal action undertaken in the meantime or where this situation is at the moment or if there is any more information source I could use in your opinion to find the responsible for this. I’d like to invite you all to contact me at serge_caroline@myway.com. Thanks a lot and God bless!
    Serge

  22. Hi everyone! I reached this site when trying to search for AKAP WYD 2005 delegates.
    I’m one of the AKAP delegates and was away for a few weeks and lost touch with the other delegates. I also lost my cellfone along with their contact numbers. I tried calling the AKAP office but the line’s always busy while the other hotlines are already out of service! Now, i dont know how to get my refund 🙁
    If you know of any delegate I can make contact with, pls send me an email — CaptKewl@gmail.com

    thanks!!!

  23. After almost 6 years, may nag-post…

    Trackbacks, anybody…

    any update or news tungkol sa AKAP wyd 2002? Sa management? Sa mga naka-claim?

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