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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Revisiting Tacloban Airport

The last time I was in Tacloban was in the summer before Typhoon Yolanda (International: Haiyan) laid waste to the city and many others along its path. Following are photos I took upon our arrival and departure from the city.

IMG10644-20150420-1350The Daniel Romualdez Airport as seen from our taxiing aircraft. The airport was almost completely destroyed by Yolanda in 2013 and was the scene of so much grief and desperation afterwards as people made their exodus of the devastated city and surrounding areas.

IMG10645-20150420-1352Arriving passengers deplane and walk on the tarmac towards the baggage claim area

IMG10647-20150420-1352A photo of our plane and disembarking passengers – Tacloban airport was being served by turboprops as jet services were suspended because of the repairs being undertaken for th runway.

IMG10648-20150420-1353Luggage carousel at the arrival area

IMG10649-20150420-1353Passengers await their luggage

IMG10650-20150420-1356People outside included those picking up passengers and those offering transport services not just for Tacloban and Leyte but also for destinations in nearby Samar island. The two islands, of course, are connected by the San Juanico Bridge, the country’s longest.

IMG10651-20150420-1356Passengers walk towards the well-wishers’ area and the parking lot

IMG10652-20150420-1357Passengers claiming their luggage

IMG10654-20150420-1403Airport control tower

IMG10750-20150421-1318Philippine Airlines check-in counters

IMG10751-20150421-1318Cebu Pacific check-in counters

IMG10753-20150421-1329Concessionaire and passengers at the pre-departure area

IMG10754-20150421-1330There were many new seats at the pre-departure area and the space can handle about 3 planeloads of passengers without being too congested.

IMG10755-20150421-1330Another look at the relatively spacious pre-departure area

IMG10756-20150421-1334The pre-departure are as seen from the other end of the lounge

Tacloban is the regional capital of Eastern Visayas and deserves a modern airport to serve the area. Plans have been made for a new passenger terminal and the project was reportedly to be bid out before Yolanda destroyed the airport. The old terminal had to be rebuilt and the new terminal project seems to be behind schedule in terms of implementation. Hopefully, the reason for delay is that they had to re-design the terminal that was to be located in the area where Pope Francis held a Mass early this year when he visited Tacloban. The re-design is critical given the possibility of future super typhoons ravaging the area and the position of the airport along the path of most typhoons passing through the Philippines.

Habal-habal in Metro Manila

Motorcycle taxis, called habal-habal in the many parts of the Philippines, are usually associated with rural areas where 4- or even 3-wheeled vehicles would have a difficult time traveling. Meanwhile, larger vehicles probably won’t fit in narrow rural roads, which can be more like a trail than a road. I saw this habal-habal station along Circumferential Road 6 in the Pasig City part of the road. The area is part of a large relocation area for informal settlers. The settlement is basically unplanned, with homes/buildings a mix of shanties and other design-your-own structures with narrow streets and alleys. The latter is most suitable to walking, bicycles and yes, motorcycles.

IMG10600-20150418-0755Habal-habal terminal along C-6 in Pasig City near the Napindan Channel

Despite the denial of many local governments including the MMDA, there are motorcycle taxis operating around Metro Manila. Many of these are in areas where there are no public transport services. Tricycles or pedicabs are not allowed or cannot access these areas (streets too narrow or in bad condition). Walking could have been an option but pedestrian facilities are probably even worse or walking distances are long and therefore inconvenient and uncomfortable to most. I don’t know about the fares for their services but I’m sure these are based on what people are willing to pay and established from what providers initially asked for such services. It is likely to that the operators of these services and their passengers know each other as the people in the communities served by habal-habal tend to know each other or another from other people (i.e., everyone knows everyone else).

On airport taxis at NAIA-Manila

Arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 from a domestic trip, we noticed the long lines of people needing to get a taxi to get to their homes or other destinations. NAIA has accredited a taxi company or companies as official airport taxis and travelers have a choice between metered and fixed rate taxis. Regular taxis were generally prohibited from picking up passengers at the airport terminals though they bring in passengers and could take passengers from the departure areas of the terminals; a common practice in other airports. I say ‘were’ because recently, in what seemed to be an effort to address the taxi supply issue, NAIA has allowed regular taxis to pick up passengers during ‘peak hours’. I say they should just assign a place for people to get regular taxis just like in Mactan Cebu and Davao.

IMG10774-20150421-1717Long lines for the metered airport taxi cabs

IMG10775-20150421-1717Long lines for the fixed rate taxis

IMG10776-20150421-1719Another looks at the long lines – not exactly the greeting you’d like when arriving in a city

NAIA Terminal 1 Drop-off/ Hatid

I was at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 recently to drop off the wife who was going on a trip abroad. I already knew that the terminal was undergoing renovations and many airlines had already transferred to Terminal 3 including Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates and Singapore Airlines, which had a of flight between them in and out of Terminal 1. This meant that Terminal 1 would have much less people and that’s exactly what we saw from the departure level driveway.

IMG10798-20150429-0622People getting carts for their luggage – and there are a lot of carts due to the drastically reduced number of passengers at T1.

IMG10799-20150429-0622The departure level driveway had very few traffic. This area used to be so crowded with security directing drivers not to park too long so others could stop to drop-off their passengers.

IMG10801-20150429-0624Well-wishers crowd the very limited space near the entrances to the terminal. This is despite all the signs practically screaming for them to clear the area. Meanwhile, one airport security staff seems exasperated after probably telling people to leave the area so many times already. There is a waiting area just after the walled/boarded off section in the photo where people cold make their last minute face to face goodbyes.

IMG10802-20150429-0624Waiting area for passengers and accompanying persons – I don’t recall they had this area before but then I probably didn’t notice because it was too crowded outside and I usually went inside the terminal immediately.

In a few days I will try posting about the renovations being undertaken at NAIA Terminal 1. These were necessary and long overdue for a terminal that’s been called one of the worst in the world. From what I saw outside, I don’t really expect to see much inside except perhaps some facelifts here and there. It’s better to manage expectations when it comes to such limited renovations.