The reunion between Cecile Solon and her half-sister, dual Australian-Filipino citizen Vivian Alvarez Solon, was in the northern Philippines city of Olongapo, where Ms Alvarez Solon has been living in a convent hospice for four years.
Ms Alvarez Solon was placed there by Australian immigration officials in 2001 after being mistakenly deported from Australia following a car accident in northern New South Wales.
While authorities realised their mistake, Ms Alvarez Solon, who dropped her marriage surname Young when her marriage broke up, could not be found.
The Australian priest who runs the convent saw Ms Alvarez Solon’s picture on the news on an ABC satellite channel.
“Are you going to look after me, really?” Ms Alvarez Solon asked her sister.
Ms Solon said she would, telling her long-lost sister: “I am stronger than you.”
Ms Alvarez Solon, who had lived in Australia as a citizen for up to 18 years and has two sons, told reporters she did not immediately recognise her sister because of the trauma she suffered in the car accident, pointing to her head.
She said she would like to meet the rest of her family.
“That would be nice but I can’t remember them because of my injuries,” she said.
Australia’s human rights commissioner and opposition politicians are calling for a full and open inquiry into wrongful detention cases.
“There are plenty of questions which are unanswered and which need to be followed,” said Human Rights Commissioner, Sev Ozdowski.
Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone said Ms Alvarez Solon will be brought back to Australia if she wants to return.
Australian Consul General Frank Evatt later met privately with Ms Alvarez Solon, her sister and Australian priest Mike Duffin, the man who first identified her from the news report.
Father Duffin has cared for Ms Alvarez Solon since her deportation.
She has spent most of the past four years in the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity shelter in Olongapo, run by Father Duffin.
He said the car accident has affected her a lot, as she walks with the help of a crutch, suffers headaches and cannot use some of her fingers and an arm very well.
“She’s okay, but she is not particularly strong,” he said. “She looks 42, but her body is the body of an older lady.”
Prime Minister John Howard has offered another qualified apology for the bungle.