Caught (up) in traffic
June 2023


On delayed flights and being compensated

The last two times we traveled to Zamboanga City, we experienced significant delays to our flights. Last May, traveled twice to Zamboanga City. The first time, our flight to the city was delayed by a couple of hours. That led to a very late arrival and us having lunch at 3PM! Even though the airline could argue that they had nothing to do with the delay, the fact is that the reason (i.e., the standard “late turnaround of aircraft”) is very much due to their operations. Therefore, they should be accountable or made accountable for the inconvenience and discomfort.

While there was no issue for our return flight then, the situation was reversed the second time we traveled to Zamboanga. Our outbound flight from Manila was not delayed but our return flight was. This time though, the airline promptly distributed snacks in the form of water, crackers and biscuits to passengers.

I think that these or perhaps meals could be provided every time there is significant delay whether charged to the airline or to the airport depending on the circumstances. Travelers are paying for a service that are supposed to be delivered in the most efficient manner. Efficiency here should include safety so delays due to aircraft maintenance or technical issues or weather-related should also be covered when compensating passengers. Of course, cancellations would be another matter. Let’s talk about those later.

Morning walks in Zamboanga City – Part 3

Part of our walks took us to Fort Pilar and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. The shrine is originally located within the walls of the Fort, which served as a refuge for citizens when the city was under attack during various times in history. It is near the Paseo so can easily be integrated in our morning walks.

The Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar is open/outdoors and there’s a daily early morning Mass

Instead of candle stands for prayer intentions, there is this trench set-up where you can put your candles and pray nearby.

The main altar of the shrine apparently faces the sunrise

Bells at the shrine

Pigeons just outside the shrine and near the souvenir shops just across from Fort Pilar

Entrance to Fort Pilar, which is administered by the National Museum of the Philippines

Plaque describing the fort and its history

More posts on walking in Zamboanga soon!

Cool Walkability Planning

I am sharing this article about planning and design for more walkable streets. The term ‘cool’ in the article refers to temperatures as people are less likely to walk if it is too hot to do so.

From the article:

“Improving walkability (including variants such as wheelchairs, hand carts, low-speed scooters) can provide significant benefits to people, businesses and communities, particularly in dense urban areas where land values are high and vehicle travel is costly. However, walking can be uncomfortable and unhealthy in hot climate cities, particularly those that often experience extreme temperatures (over 40° Celsius, 105° Fahrenheit). These conditions make walking unattractive and infeasible during many days…

A well-planned networks of shadeways (shaded sidewalks) and pedways (enclosed, climate-controlled walkways) incorporated into a compact urban village can provide convenient, comfortable and efficient non-auto access during extreme heat. They can create multimodal communities where residents, workers and visitors rely more on walking and public transit, reduce vehicle use, save on vehicle costs, and require less expensive road and parking infrastructure…

The main obstacle to comprehensive pedway development is the well-entrenched biases that favor motorized travel and undervalue non-motorized modes in transportation planning and investment. Transportation agencies have tools for planning and evaluating roadway improvements, and funding to implement them, but lack comparable tools and funding for walkability improvements such as shadeways and pedways, even if they are more cost effective and beneficial than roadway projects.”

Source: Cool Walkability Planning

Vendors along the boulevard in Zamboanga

Our morning walks allowed us to observe some scenes in the city. Along the R.T. Lim Boulevard, there are stretches of what was probably a public beach. We saw these vendors along the shore selling shellfish and clams.

Vendors selling shellfish – suddenly I recalled the tongue twister: “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.”

Conchs are sea snails and considered a delicacy in the Philippines

Other sea snails that some people generally call kuhol are in buckets to keep them alive and fresh.

Clams make for good clear soup that will go with any viand for your meals whether it’s lunch or dinner. 

These are the scenes you usually miss when you’re driving or riding. Walks or jogs bring you closer and provide the opportunity to stop and look (even inquire or take a few photos). They enhance our walks and allows a glimpse of how life was along the shores when a city like Zamboanga was not as developed as in the present. Manila used to have public beaches before the first reclamation projects eventually wiped them out. The attempt to bring those back in the form of the dolomite beaches don’t really help considering the water pollution that makes swimming or wading risky for people.

Morning walks in Zamboanga City – Part 2

We took early morning walks in Zamboanga City, when most people are just starting their day. That meant less people and traffic, and one can enjoy the walks without worrying about motor vehicles or crowded streets. A nice route would be from City Hall to Paseo Del Mar and First Pilar and back. This is easily 5,000 to 6,000 steps depending on the variations to the walking route.

Zamboanga City’s Paseo Del Mar is practically deserted but for a few joggers or walkers around 6:00 AM.

You can enjoy a walk, jog or run with views of the sea and ships

The lamps reminded us of similar designs along Roxas Boulevard in Manila and Pasay.

A view of the port and what used to be the Lantaka Hotel (building at right) from the Paseo Del Mar. During one of the city’s festivals, this area would be the staging ground for colorful vintas.

This sign for the paseo would likely be a popular photo op spot.

A potted palm tree and a bench that invites one to sit and enjoy the view

On a clear day, one can see the island of Sulu

Board walk 

The space is just enough for two people going opposite directions

More photos on walking around Zamboanga City in the next posts!

Morning walks in Zamboanga City – Part 1

Before I return to Zamboanga City for another workshop, I wanted to at least post the first of a series about walking in the city. One advantage of staying at a hotel in downtown is that it is close to the parks and city hall. You can also walk towards Lim Boulevard or perhaps towards Fort Pilar on the opposite direction.

Rizal Park

Arcade style walkways integrated into the older buildings in downtown Zamboanga City

Valderosa Street with the Zamboanga City Hall on the right

Rizal Park viewed from City Hall

A close up of the Rizal monument

One of the entrances to city hall has the official seal of the city on display.

Historical market for the building, which was first constructed during the American Period. It states that the building also used to be the Provincial Capitol. It is a heritage structure that is over a century old.

The sidewalks are wide and paved. Planters are located along the curb to enhance the environment.

Historical marker on an old house that was the official residence of Gen. John Pershing (yes, that Pershing) and which became BPI’s first branch in the city.

Other old houses may be found along Valderosa Street. Many if not most are in a state of disrepair. 

Sidewalk fronting what used to be the Lantaka Hotel. Part of the hotel is now with Ateneo de Zamboanga.

Graffiti on the walls along Valderosa Street

Section fronting what used to be the Lantana Hotel. It is now part of Ateneo de Zamboanga.

More photos in Part 2, which is coming out soon!

NAIA terminal designations for airlines – reshuffle

Airport authorities in Manila announced that airline designations at NAIA’s four terminals would be reshuffled. I took this photo of the announcement on a tarp at the corner of NAIA Road and Ninoy Aquino Avenue as we left NAIA Terminal 1.

While there seems to be no major concern for the international airlines mentioned in the tarp, there will be a major inconvenience for Philippine Airlines passengers. For most its flights including international ones, transfers were easier and more convenient since international and domestic flights shared the same Terminal 2. There was no need to travel from or to another terminal unless the transfer involved another airline. From June 16, 2023, all its international flights will be via Terminal 1 so there will be a need to transit between T1 and T2 for connecting flights. Cebu Pacific will still enjoy this convenience for most of its flights as international and most domestic flights are via Terminal 3.

Short cuts in Zamboanga City

Our capacity building workshop in Zamboanga involved not just lectures and workshops but some practical exercises to demonstrate the surveys needed for road safety assessment of schools. Fortunately, there was a nearby school to our workshop venue and we only needed to walk to the school where participants could set up at certain locations to simulate data collection. Since a couple of teachers participating in the workshop were from the area and the nearby school, they led us to a short cut to get to their school. The route included a walk along a paved path along one of Zamboanga City’s streams.

The area had a smell (stink?) to it. That was likely because it was the dry season and the heat meant the dirty water from the stream evaporated and generated the smell. There were even large rats that we saw swimming in the waters! Our guides told us that it was better during the wet season as the water flowed faster and was cleaner due to the rains and runoff. They also related about them bathing in the stream during their childhood days (I assume this was more than 30 years ago.) and before the structures above were constructed. The pathways were clean and secure though and there were others like these that we thought were good examples of pedestrian infrastructure that promote safety as well as encourage walking as a preferred mode of transport especially for short trips.

On San Francisco’s cable cars

Here a quick share of an article on San Francisco’s iconic cable cars:

Carren, D. (May 11, 2023) “Why SF cable cars are so iconic: a history,” The Bold Italic, [Last accessed: 5/14/2023]

From the article:

“Though a scant remnant of what they once were, the three remaining lines are almost always packed with riders, running every 8 minutes for 16 hours a day, clanking along with a lurch’s awkward grace and an artful clattering. The crowd hangs tight to the handholds and the poles and their hats through hairpin turns, and a daring few lean out with one arm, wildly waving to signal all is still quite well.”

I have been to SF a few times and enjoyed using the cable cars among other modes to go around the city. In fact, in one of our stays in SF, we deliberately booked a hotel close to the end point of one of the lines so we can use it more frequently to go to downtown SF.

San Francisco’s cable cars at the Hyde Street turnabout ca. 2011.


Back at Laguindingan Airport – arrival

We were in Cagayan de Oro last April and I took the opportunity to take photos at the airport. The airport, of course, is no longer in Cagayan de Oro (the old one has been closed). It is now in Laguindingan town, which 30 to 60 minutes from CDO depending on the time of day and how aggressive your driver is. Laguindingan retained CDO as its code.

Baggage claim conveyor belt at the arrival area

Passengers claiming their checked-in luggage

Exit from the arrival area – there is a CAAP Assistance Desk here

Driveway and crossing for passengers

The main driveway is currently reserved for VIPs. All other vehicles are required to go to the parking lot across from the terminal.

Passengers need to cross to the parking lot where their fetchers await them or where they can book a vehicle to take them to their destinations.

People waiting for passengers. Most of these are fetching (sundo) relatives, friends or clients arriving at the airport.

Transport services await passengers at the parking area. In other airports, these are located near the arrival exit. They are here probably due to security concerns. One can easily book a vehicle (usually a car or van) from Laguindingan Airport to typical destinations like Cagayan De Oro and Iligan City.

Personnel of various transport service companies call for passengers to attract them to their booths. Others are drivers of rented vehicles, waiting for their clients to appear.

The airport terminal as seen from the parking lot.