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Stranded in Terminal 1, Brit finds friends

Gary Peter Austin, a British horse racing jockey, has been staying at the NAIA departure lobby for over 20 days, having no money to buy a plane ticket home. RUDY SANTOS                                                                   

MANILA, Philippines - A British racehorse jockey has been staying at the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Pasay City since Dec. 19 after his plane ticket was allegedly cancelled.

Gary Peter Austin, 52, a resident of England and an international jockey hired by racehorse owners from Kuwait and Oman, apparently has no more money to buy a ticket to fly out.

He has no idea why his Gulf Air ticket to Kuwait was cancelled by his travel agency.

Austin arrived in the country last Nov. 29 from Kuwait on board Gulf Air and visited a Filipino friend in Cebu who was not immediately identified.

The British jockey met his friend from Cebu at the Sta. Ana Park hippodrome in Makati in 2005.

After his trip to Cebu, Austin arrived at NAIA 1 to catch his flight to Kuwait last Dec. 19, but he was shocked when Gulf Air personnel told him that his plane ticket was “void.”

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Austin has since been stranded at the airport departure area, sleeping in the terminal chairs and with Gulf Air employees supplying him with airline food.

Airport employees told The STAR that Austin had even befriended departing passengers, most of them overseas Filipino workers, who gave him some money to buy food.

Austin also met Mahannah Bulabon, 32, a single mother and a janitress at the airport.

Bulabon said she met Austin in one of the comfort rooms that she was cleaning and they have become friends.

She said that Austin now only has P80 left.

“We pity him so sometimes we buy water for him,” she added.

Maritess Inocencio, another janitress and a friend of Bulabon, said that Austin told her that Bulabon could be a “perfect wife.”

Austin went to the British embassy in Makati yesterday to ask for assistance for his return flight to the United Kingdom.

 

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