For the past weeks, I have been outside of Metro Manila traveling from one airport to another. I usually take Cebu Pacific and PAL Express flights as I could get promotional prices for these local flight carriers. By taking these carriers, one has to use the new Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
Let me tell my readers my observations about the airports that I’ve used in my travels to the Visayas and Mindanao for the past weeks.
On the first week of this month, May, I went to Bacolod City to coordinate with the conduct of the 1st Negros Occidental 73K Ultra Marathon Race among the Provincial Government and the AFP units in the area. Since I was using the Cebu Pacific flight, I had to check-in at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 for its first flight for the day, arriving thereat at 4:30 AM. I usually take a taxi ride from my place in Manila to the airport.
The usual sight is always there—long lines of passengers trying to enter the airport even if there are two entrances at the Departure Area where the X-ray machines & metal detectors are located. I think there is something WRONG here. Why do you have to place an X-Ray machine & metal detectors for the passengers and baggage just at the entrance of the airport? In my trips abroad, I don’t see any X-Ray machines/Metal Detectors for passengers and baggage right at the entrance of the terminal/airport. Most of these X-Ray machines are located inside the airport or at the terminal’s lobby or sometimes, each of the airlines have their own X-Ray machine and personnel operating such equipment.
The air conditioning system inside the airport/terminal was not working. I thought it was just a temporary situation when I went to Bacolod City but on my next trip to Mindanao after one week, the air conditional system was still not working. For a new airport, it is surprising why its air conditioning system is not working. I really don’t know the reason why the airport authority and its management are allowing this thing to happen. It is summer time and it is annoying to be perspiring inside the airport while standing in line in front of the check-in personnel. Are they minimizing the cost of electricity? Is the management incompetent that they don’t care about the welfare of their customers?
I am glad that the bus that ferries passengers from the terminal to the plane are air-conditioned ones as it gives comfort to the passengers once they leave the terminal.
I am not complaining if there is NO free Wi-Fi in the airport. I am still the conservative type of passenger waiting for boarding at the airport reading a book or a magazine. You can count with your fingers among hundreds of passengers at the boarding area on those passengers reading a “printed” book (hardbound or paperback). What you see now are passengers using their SmartPhones to take pictures and update their Facebook account/s. Some just simply play games on their phones and iPad/Mini-iPads but sometimes I could see people who read books on their iBooks & Nooks!
In Bacolod City, the new airport in Silay, Negros Occidental is very nice but it is very far from Bacolod City. I have only one complaint though. The air conditioning system was not working at the arrival area. Since my “contact” in the area was able to fetch me with a vehicle, I was not able to experience what it is like to commute from the Silay Airport to Bacolod City. I hope there are vans, UV Express, and taxis available at the airport for the tourists and other arriving passengers.
In Kalibo Airport, there is no change since I had my last trip here five (5) years ago. With additional international and local flights, the boarding area and the air conditioning system are still the same and I could hardly feel the cold air with the jam-packed passengers waiting for their respective flight. Although there is a second floor in the terminal area, the space is filled with stores, cafe and convenience stores. The passengers who don’t have seats at the boarding area have to go to the 2nd floor to wait for their boarding calls. There is a need to improve and expand the terminal with the increasing number of local and international flights due to the increasing number of tourists and visitors to Boracay Island.
At the Lumbia Airport of Cagayan De Oro City (Misamis Oriental), it is still the same airport that I’ve been going through while I was still in the active military service. It was raining when the plane touched down and my shoes were wet when the rain created a small flooding at the tarmac as I approached the terminal. The baggage carousel is still the same small one where one has to wait for a longer time for the baggage to reach the carousel. The boarding area is still the same where some of the passengers would stand to wait if there are two flights about to take-off in few minutes between each other. Although I was in the comfort of the VIP Room at the departure area, the rest of the passengers were contended with the weak air conditioning.
Airports are supposed to be the “mirror-image” of the place where the airport is located. However, it does not mean that the airport terminal should be warm, hot and humid like our climate but at least, it should be comfortable to everybody. There should be enough space, seats, and a reliable working air conditioning system so that passengers would not be perspiring/sweating while waiting in line in flight counters. It is very frustrating to see passengers sitting and lying on the floor to sleep inside the terminal.
The airport authority and management should not be trying to save power/energy to run those air conditioning system because each of the passenger is paying a terminal fee to address such cost to include maintenance, security, and toiletries in comfort rooms. Aside from its collection of terminal fees, the Airports have an appropriated budget for their Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses under the Department of Transportation and Communications. If I am not mistaken our International Airports in Metro Manila are the top clients of MERALCO (Manila Electric Company). (I am just wondering if our NAIA Terminals are up to date in the payment of their electric bills to MERALCO!)
Here comes the worst part if you are arriving in one of the Airport Terminals in Metro Manila. There are NO Bus Lines or Bus Transportation Lines that pick-up arriving passengers in front of the Terminals! Before when we had only ONE Airport Terminal, we had the so-called California Bus Lines and Love Bus which would pass along the airport’s terminal and whose route would go along the Metro Manila’s main streets and cities. Once you reach a Commercial District or City within Metro Manila, that’s the time you flagged down a Taxi and the driver would bring you to your final destination.
Those travel arrangements from the airport once you arrive in Manila are gone now. At present, it is either you get the services of a Rental Car, Airport Taxi, or from a regular Taxi. Obviously, the Airport Taxi (cars painted in yellow) is very expensive. I don’t use such transport service for obvious reason. If you intend to use the services of a regular Taxi (mostly colored/painted white), you should be smart and practical. It is suggested that you proceed to the Departure Area and make an Exit thereat and try to flag down those taxis that just dropped incoming passengers at the terminal. The drivers will not be choosy as they need a passenger once they leave the airport instead of nothing. Problem arises when you take the last flight inbound to Manila if you are coming from local destinations. Obviously, most of these last flights would arrive at the terminal at the same time and it would result to a longer line of passengers waiting for the regular taxi to arrive. Patience is needed in this kind of situation.
For those foreigners who would like to join our ultra races in the provinces (Luzon area) and choose to arrive in one of the airports/terminals in Metro Manila, Car Rental is the best option. But be careful. Be careful with those “fake” and/or “off duty” MMDA traffic enforcers as they might be attracted with the color of your skin and un-Filipino facial features. These notorious “fake” and/or “off duty” traffic enforcers would flag you down as you leave the Car Rental or a few blocks away and tell you that you can’t drive in our country without a Philippines Driver’s License. That is not true! You can use your country’s Driver’s License for a 30-day stay in the Philippines. If the traffic enforcer does not believe you, tell him that you are a friend of “Bald Runner” (Retired Major General Jovenal Narcise of the Philippine Army). If he still does not release you, then prepare to haggle for the amount of money you have to give for his coffee/snacks.
If he releases you after giving him some cash, then I would say, “Welcome to the Gates of Hell”.