Last April 21, 2012 (Saturday), I was at the back-most seat of a victory Liner bus destined for Pasay (from Baguio). I was seated beside a thirty-ish woman, who’s on her way to Hong Kong. She said her flight was at 6 pm, and we were currently stuck on a typical EDSA traffic. It was already 5 pm, and she may reach the NAIA 1 (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) before six, but might be in time for her flight.
I bought two packs of crackers and a bottle of water from a nearby mall. It was already six, and my sister was texting me where the heck am I. I said that I’m on a taxi headed for NAIA 1, and I would just text when I had already checked-in.
The taxi driver was asking for some extra cash, as he said he will have no passengers awaiting at the airport. I said sure, but it would not be much, at the same time thinking, “another typical Manila taxi driver.”
At the uphill road leading to the entrance of the NAIA 1, was a stationary line of cars. I was getting a bit impatient, wanting to get out of the taxi, and just run past those angry drivers. But then, the inching movement of the vehicles discouraged me from doing so.
When we had reached the area for unloading passengers, I handed my 140 pesos to the driver. Ten pesos extra is enough, and I said that I’m just a poor traveler, with a very big smile on my face. Smiling, that I gave him an almost exact fare, and smiling that I was two hours before my planned flight departure.
When I was queuing, an airport personnel approached me and asked what was my airline, and where will I go. When I said it was Cebu Pacific, her companion quickly said that I should be at the new NAIA 3.
It was natural to think of three things. First, I was definitely at the wrong place. Second, “dang, ang tanga tanga mo talaga! ahaha!” Third, I had around two hours left before flight time.
It was time for the amazing race!
I ran to where public transport pass by and hopped on a jeepney outside the airport. Earlier, the two airport personnel said I would take two rides to reach NAIA 3. Indeed, when the driver said I get down and pointed where I should take the second ride, I immediately complied.
Traffic in Manila should always be considered. Luckily, the halt of vehicular movement was not that much. I was at the airport one hour and thirty minutes before flight time. My sister called, which only made her voice a lot more energetic. I was very energetic myself, running past fellow passengers… past the running cars… the guards which blocked my way… and finally into the check-in counter.
I queued for thirty minutes, only to find out I had to pay P1620.00 for my travel taxes and P550.00 for passenger services. What can I say, even traveling is taxed. Amazing! (P42.00 = US$1.00)
To further the inconveniences, the immigration officials were all set with their questionnaires for another edition of the Philippine Immigration Q&A Game. A game where you never win a price for answering what was asked. If you are a fan for answering obvious and other out-of-the topic questions, you’d probably enjoy this game. Why are you traveling? When will you come back? Why will you come back on that date? What are you carrying?
I said I was going to attend an academic conference. They said what that conference was? It would be fun to let the questions go on and on, but the heck, what’s the reason anyway? I just presented my letter of invitation, and in the end of all those queries-which-lead-to-nothing moments, stamped my passport anyway.
Yes, relief at last! A few minutes later however, an announcement relayed that our flight, which was scheduled for 21:55, would be delayed for about an hour. I heard the usual vocal reactions, which was really understandable.
So I just took some pictures at the airport:
After a few walks here and there, I talked to one of the members of the Philippine Paralympic Team, which will also be at the same plane. I wished them the best, and walked around the airport again. Though hoping not to buy anything, it can’t be helped. I did not have lunch that day.
Buying merchandise at airports are really not that recommended, so they say. So when I saw these Baguio products, which normally sell for P25 pesos, priced at…
… ayta ukis!
By 22:00, an announcement through the intercom said that we should board through a different gate. Tsk tsk! At any rate, it was time to go… a time to start the Malaysian adventure! 😀