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Thu. Apr 15th, 2021

An Actor’s Temper Tantrum Triggers BI Balikbayan Reminder.  A Bureau of Immigration, BI, Press Release regarding the Balikbayan Privilege was recently issued. A local celebrity, Tony Labrusca, reportedly had an outburst at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, NAIA, Terminal 1 last 03 January 2018.

Celebrity Pissed

Though Immigration officials didn’t name the “celebrity,” major news outlets, as the Inquirer.net, did.

What was the cause of Labrusca’s tirade? He was “only” given an only given a 30-day stay when he arrived in NAIA’s Immigration area.

So what? That’s the standard policy for any AMERICAN passport holder. He mistakenly believed he qualified for the Balikbayan visa privilege. When denied, he shouted expletives at Immigration officials. His parents were born in the Philippines but the kid was born in the USA. Houston, Texas, to be exact, according to Wikipedia.

According to the BI Press Release, he was allegedly furious at immigration for “giving him a hard time, despite him being a celebrity, with people wanting to take pictures with him.”

Actor Unaware of Policy

Wow!  Labrusca was angry because his Filipino mom wasn’t with him. Thus, he didn’t qualify for the Balikbayan. He confessed that he was unaware of the Immigration policy on the Balikbayan Privilege.

I was unaware of the policy that because I was not with my mother, I did not qualify for a Balikbayan stamp,” Labrusca said.

Therefore, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) reminded the public that the Balikbayan Program is intended for former Filipinos visiting the Philippines.

The Official Balikbayan Privilege

“Under Republic Act No. 6768, the 1-year Balikbayan visa privilege is exclusively given to former Filipinos naturalized abroad, and their spouse and children who are travelling with them,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente reiterated.

Immigration Spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval clarified that those who have Philippine lineage do not necessarily qualify for the Balikbayan Privilege.

“The privilege is for former Filipinos, and their immediate family members who are traveling with them only,” clarified Sandoval. “If these family members are not traveling with the Filipino or former Filipino, they are not qualified for the one year visa free privilege,” she added.

She further explained that those who are admitted as Balikbayans are given an initial stay of one year, which they may extend for another one, two, or six months.

Those who do not qualify, but are within the list of 157 countries eligible for visa free entry pursuant to Executive Order No. 408, get an automatic 30-day visa upon their arrival.

Tony Who?

Frankly, my Filipina wife never heard of this so-called celebrity. Neither did any of the commentators on the Inquirer story who ripped him to shreds. Sounds like a classic case of “Do you know who I am?”

Popularly known as Tony Labrusca. Born Anthony Angel Jones Labrusca, Jr. (born August 7, 1995) according to Wikipedia.

The kid first gained his notoriety in a McDonald’s 2016 Philippines TV commercial.

In 2016, he joined the Filipino reality search Pinoy Boyband Superstar but failed to reach the grand finals. He finished seventh. He had a bit part on a horror-fantasy drama series La Luna Sangre.

La Luna Sangre ran for nine months on ABS CBN television.

BI Warning

Sandoval likewise issued a warning against foreign nationals who disrespect immigration officers.

“While our immigration officers have been instructed to observe maximum tolerance, it is against the law to disrespect immigration authorities, and violating aliens may be excluded and blacklisted from the Philippines,” she said.

“Showing disrespect to symbols of authority is essentially showing disrespect to the country,” she added.

Get it right, next time, Tony, or you might not be able to do any more McDonald’s commercial.

By The Kano

POST AUTHOR: "THE KANO." Dave DeWall, "The Kano", is the Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of "Philippines Plus" in publication since August 2009. He is also the CEO of Lizard Poop Productions and author of the best-selling guide book "The Philippines Expat Advisor." Dave moved to the Philippines in July 2009 from Central Illinois with his lovely wife of over 21 years, "The Sainted Patient Wife." The couple reside in a rural province in Western Visayas, Guimaras. The small island province is said to have the sweetest mangoes in the world. They do not have any children but are the proud owners of eight active canines, including a Belgian Malinois called "Killer" "Killer" has bitten five people over the years along with one goat and a carabao. "Killer" doesn't like strangers. Or goats. Or carabaos.

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