CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga — “Filipinos are good. They have a heart.” Voicing out that sentiment, Ghanaian deportee Jasper Kuwornu left the Philippines on Saturday morning, more than three months after being stranded at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport here since September 28.
That good facet of the Filipino character was imprinted in him by no less than Inquirer readers who came to his aid through cash donations.
In less than two weeks after the 31-year-old Ghanaian called the Inquirer Northern Luzon Bureau on December 26 to seek help, the Sydney-based company, PennyTel, bought him a plane ticket for his flight home.
The Manilay couple and their son John Ralph, Vanessa Roxas Tan, Ronnie Go, Bhe Marcelo, Kim Lopez, and a man who identified himself only as Albert sent him pocket money.
Victor Jose Luciano, president of the Clark International Airport Corp., assigned a staffer, Richie Nacpil, to facilitate the clearances for Kuwornu’s release from immigration authorities.
PennyTel paid P71,250 ($1,489) for Kuwornu’s seat on an United Arab Emirates flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Accra City via Dubai, according to Shiela Siwa Cruz, Air Asia ground operations manager.
It was Mark Anthony Delfin, a Filipino employee of PennyTel who was home for the holidays, who read Kuwornu’s story on inquirer.net. He forwarded the story to his employer, who has Ghanaian roots.
Delfin said his employer lost no time in helping his compatriot.
Cruz handed an electronic ticket to Kuwornu an hour before he left the DMIA at 4 p.m. on Friday. Cruz and an immigration official in Angeles City escorted Kuwornu to the NAIA for the final requirements clearing him from the deportation list.
The Ghanaian left the country at 12:20 a.m. Saturday.
Cruz and Air Asia became part of this real-life deportation drama when Kuwornu, who was traveling on that airline to Malaysia en route to Bangkok and Dubai, was deported by Malaysian authorities on September 28 for lack of a transit visa.
Another attempt to leave the Philippines, this time through Bangkok via NAIA on October 19, was frustrated due, again, to lack of a transit visa.
Air Asia had provided him dinner packs during his month-long stay at the DMIA terminal and two months more of stay at the DMIA’s emergency services department.
“He was not only a deportee. He was also poor. He had no money,” Cruz said.
Kuwornu came to the Philippines on February 27 to study at a maritime school in Metro Manila. He lost financial support when his brother, a seaman, died in an accident. His mother is a vegetable vendor in Ghana.
He volunteered with the Life African Evangelical Mission, preaching the Bible at the women’s correctional prison in Metro Manila.
“I’m very happy to leave and reunite with my mother,” Kuwornu told the Inquirer before he left Clark on Friday.
“For all their kindness, God should reward them. They have been very good, very kind to me,” he said, referring to the people who helped him.
Among them, he said, were DMIA firefighters who shared food, bolstered his sagging hope and gave him a taste of Filipino Christmas.
More than 50 Filipinos also sent him encouraging words through text messages.
“I thank the Inquirer for coming to my aid to spread the message,” he said. “This shower of blessings, I thank them for the good work they have done to me.”
He said he did not feel sorry for himself despite what happened.
“Everything is by God. All things work together for the Lord,” he said.
Kuwornu promised to return the kindness of Filipinos.
“I will help Filipinos in the little ways I can when they encounter problems in Ghana,” he said.
Kuwornu plans to return to the Philippines to study, banking on the help of the Manilay couple who owns a school.
Kuwornu is the second Ghanaian stranded in Clark after football player Ayi Nii Aryee, who was deported by Singaporean authorities to Clark for six months in 2006 for lack of a student visa.
Aryee has since enrolled at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, teaching football during his spare time.