Cat Makes History After Repatriation to the Philippines Amid Myanmar Political Turmoil

A cat owned by a Filipino migrant worker in Myanmar became the first pet to be repatriated to the Philippines when it joined the fifth government-funded repatriation flight amid the COVID-19 pandemic on May 29.

Plea for help: Karen Vinalay, an art director returning home due to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, initially failed to get permission from the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, to bring along her short-haired cat, Jon Snow White, the Manila Bulletin reported.

  • Vinalay shared a tweet on May 10, containing a letter she wrote to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., requesting she and her pet be rescued. 
  • The worker, whose other cat Yoda passed away in December 2020, shared how Jon was her only family in a foreign country, noting how pets “add life” when “homesickness sets in.” 
  • She lamented the embassy probably turned her down because they “have less appreciation on the importance of pets for people who have been away from home.”

DFA Chief responds:  Touched by Vinalay’s impassioned letter, Locsin immediately directed his department to coordinate the needed accommodation to have the cat onboard the repatriation flight.

  • Locsin then told Vinalay to call the Philippine Embassy in Myanmar to assist her. 
  • Vinalay and her cat joined 54 other Filipinos from Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand in a chartered Philippine Airlines sweeper flight, which arrived in Manila on May 29.

The Philippines’ DFA has been repatriating Filipinos in Myanmar due to COVID-19 and the political situation since last year, according to the Philippine Star.

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Featured Image via @kvinalay (left, right)

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