Traffic and air quality
Along one of my commuting routes, I couldn’t help but take a photo of what lied ahead as our vehicle was crawling along Marcos Highway in Antipolo. The following photo pretty much captures the relationship between transportation and the environment; the latter in terms of air quality and the former in the form of our congested roads.
Smoggy Metro Manila in the horizon as vehicles are crawl along Marcos Highway towards Masinag Junction
With traffic practically back or even worse than pre-pandemic levels, one cannot help but think about what could have been if government planned and executed during the time of the lockdowns in preparation for the eventual return to workplaces and schools by most people. The peak of the pandemic when total lockdowns were implemented was supposed to provide the opportunity to make the drastic changes required of transportation. You cannot find a better time for a reboot and yet here we are and again struggling with our daily commutes. We can just hope that other cities and municipalities will not go the way of Metro Manila.
On emergency vehicles, speeds and road widths
I recall an online discussion about how roads need to be wide to accommodate emergency vehicles such as fire trucks/engines, ambulances and police vehicles. There are also videos shared on social media about how, with wide roads, motorists could move their vehicles to the sides to give way to emergency vehicles. These are used to support the argument that we need wide roads and that speeding for emergency vehicles is justified because of their purpose. The following article attempts to make a counter-argument:
Lewis, M. (November 21, 2022) “Ambulances vs. Pedestrians,” Planetizen, https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/119785-ambulances-vs-pedestrians [Last accessed: 11/24/2022]
To quote from the article:
“the “emergency response” argument in favor of wide streets only makes sense if the risk of death from a too-slow ambulance outweighs the risk of death from a speeding car.”
Certainly, the data on road crashes due to speeding should support the perception that there’s a higher risk of death from speeding vehicles compared to the risk of dying in relation to the emergency that’s supposedly being responded to. And in our country, perhaps this counter-argument is valid considering the “wang-wang” type of emergency vehicles moving about.
Commuting from/to Antipolo via the public transport terminal at Robinsons Antipolo
I was at the Robinsons Antipolo public transport terminal to take a P2P bus to Ortigas. I took a few photos before boarding the bus. The bus no longer terminates at Robinsons Galleria but instead goes to Greenhills. This is very convenient for people who need to go to Virra Mall or somewhere in its vicinity (e.g., Cardinal Santos Medical Center, LSGH, etc.).
Then there are the buses plying the Antipolo-Cubao route via Sumulong Highway-Marcos Highway-Aurora Boulevard. These are regular aircon buses (not P2P) operated by various companies including G-Liner, RRCG, Jayross, etc. Below are photos of Diamond Star buses loading passengers bound for Cubao.
The lines can be very long depending on the time in the morning but I guess the assurance of a seat makes it worthwhile to go to the terminal rather than wait for the bus along its route. Passengers loads are practically back to pre-pandemic levels and with some jeepneys back, that means competition for the buses.
Old rail timetable to Antipolo
I found this on the internet – a timetable or schedule for trains bound for what are now destinations in Rizal (e.g., Antipolo, Taytay, San Mateo and Montalban). Pasig and Marikina used to be part of Rizal province with the capital at Pasig (thus, Kapitolyo).
From the schedule, one can see that the main line was between Manila and Pasig (Rosario). From Rosarion, the line branched out towards either Antipolo or Montalban (now Rodriguez). Certain trains like Nos. 41, 45, 47, 51 and 56 terminated in Antipolo while others at Montalban. Again, one cannot help but wonder what if these lines were sustained and still operational (of course, upgraded) today. Commuting would have been different for many of us residing in Rizal and along these lines.
The return of carmaggedon and the illusion of low vehicle ownership
Traffic seems to be back to pre-pandemic levels in the Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces. You can experience this along major roads like Commonwealth Avenue, C-5 and yes, EDSA. The number of vehicles on the roads including motorcycles defy what is supposed to be low motor vehicle ownership in Metro Manila (as claimed by DOTr and JICA in the MUCEP report and echoed by groups who cite the report as if it is flawless).
Intense traffic congestion along C5/Katipunan Avenue. The photo shows traffic on the C5/Katipunan flyover’s northbound side and towards the direction of Ateneo, Miriam and UP Diliman.
The reality appears to be that more households actually own motor vehicles and the inefficiencies and unattractiveness of public transport continues to convince people to take private transportation, including motorcycles, over public transport options. The inconvenient truth according to one senior transport expert is that while cycling has gained ground, the numbers are minuscule compared with those taking either private or public motorized transport. Yes, carmaggedon is back and looks here to stay for a while longer until the so-called game changers like the MM subway and Line 7 are operational. Will they change the commuting behavior or are these too late in as far as solutions are concerned?
What are closed and what are open at NAIA Terminal 3 – international wing
I was able to take a few photos around the pre-departure area of NAIA Terminal 3 before our flight got cancelled. The shops, restaurants and cafes are mostly open including the Duty Free Philippines shop, Bo’s Coffee, and a variety of souvenir shops and eateries in the area. In fact, you can see from the couple of photos I am sharing that practically the whole length of the international wing has a shop or restaurant/eatery on one side. The other side would be the boarding gates and seats for departing passengers.
The travel certainly won’t have an excuse for getting hungry as I guess there will be something for everyone whether you want a drink, a snack, a light meal or a heavy one. The souvenir shops are also a mix of the usual items like delicacies, local crafts, shirts, keychains, ref magnets and the like. If you want something more fancy for souvenirs, there is a Narda’s store here. There are a couple of WHSmith stores for those looking for something to read or even some quick souvenir shopping.
On a canceled trip due to a typhoon
I was supposed to be traveling with my family to Singapore over the Undas long weekend. That did not push through due to the circumstances brought about by Typhoon Paeng. What could have been our daughter’s first travel abroad did not materialize and we were left with sunk costs from the tickets we had already bought online for Universal Studios and the Singapore Zoo. We also had to cancel meet-ups with friends in Singapore.
This Cathay Pacific plane landed safely before noon and later departed for Hong Kong without incident.
An earlier ANA flight arrived and departed without incident. This one arrived mid afternoon but was similarly grounded due to the typhoon.
The airport announced all flights were canceled just before 6:30 PM. This was a late announcement that some airlines were waiting for. Cebu Pacific apparently had advance information as they canceled all their international flights one after the other around 6:00PM (probably to manage the crowds that would file out of the departure area to reclaim their luggage). We were disappointed that Singapore Airlines did not act immediately and decisively on the matter. We were expecting at least an announcement of when we could expect to be on the next flight. For an airline of their stature, I was also expecting that they could have made arrangements for accommodations due to the great inconvenience brought upon passengers. That was the least they could do if they intended to put us in the next available flight (planes were cleared to operate at 10:00PM that night). Apparently, the typhoon (and its implied acts of nature/acts of God aspect) was also a convenient excuse for the airline (and others, too) to practically abandon their passengers. [Note: A pilot friend intimated that these decisions and behavior by airlines are partly due to policies and actions of the previous administration/government of the Philippines where all the blame was put on airlines for cancellations and they were penalized for acting independently or ahead of government announcements.]
Of course, we later received a series of emails from the airline informing us that we were rebooked to flights the following day. I say ‘flights’ here because these the first email informed us of a flight at 10:00AM. A subsequent email then said we were to be in a 12:00 flight. A third then said that we were to be on a 2:00 PM flight. We got to read these emails around 7:00 AM the following day as they were sent overnight when we were already occupied in finding accommodations during inclement weather. Flabbergasted, we decided to request a refund instead of re-booking and rescheduling our trip. It was already difficult to reschedule as there weren’t any weekends long enough remaining this 2022 and this Undas was the ideal time for a getaway. We’ll try again another time.
Provincial bus services via the transport terminal at Robinsons Antipolo
Robinsons Antipolo recently announced the daily trip schedule for provincial destinations for the transport terminal at the mall. These are for destinations in the Bicol region and the Visayan Islands of Samar, Leyte and Bohol. These will likely travel via Rizal’s “backdoor” through Teresa, Morong, Tanay and Pililla and proceed through the Laguna towns of Pangil, Pakil, Paete, Lumban and Pagsanjan, before going through Quezon province via Luisiana, Lucban towards Lucena, where there is a major bus. From Lucena, the trip will then take the usual routes through Bicol. Here is the posting from the Robinsons Antipolo Facebook page:
There are three bus companies serving the routes mentioned above and as shown at the bottom of the poster. While I am familiar with the routes in Bicol (I have experienced traveling by bus all the way to Gubat, Sorsogon, which is my mother’s hometown and where we have many close relatives.), I have not experienced crossing to Samar via Matnog. I have been to both Samar and Leyte and have crossed the San Juanico Bridge many times so I know how long those trips can be. The highways now are better and I assume the buses offer more comfortable rides so its the ferry (RORO) crossing between Matnog and Allen that will be the slowest and perhaps most uncertain part of the trip. I say uncertain because if the weather is not good, the coast guard will halt the ferry services. I was surprised there was a connection to Bohol. That is not a short trip from Leyte to Bohol. And I was expecting a service to Cebu instead, which was closer and had regular ferry services between Leyte and Cebu islands.
I don’t know about the demand for these services or routes. I hope these are sustainable and sustained as it offers an alternative for people residing in Rizal and nearby areas who want to go to Bicol, Samar, Leyte or Bohol via these routes.
Arrival at Mactan Cebu International Airport
It’s the Undas holidays when people typically travel to their hometowns. In the past, this has been an exodus for the big cities like Metro Manila where most people actually originated from other provinces. It is a common sight for the bus terminals, airports and seaports to be crowded this time of year and prior to November 1 as people travel home. This year is probably the most crowded in many years considering the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted travel the last 2+ years.
This is actually a late post on our travel back in July 2022. It is still relevant as I feature here Cebu’s main gateway – the Mactan Cebu International Airport. We were back in Cebu after almost 3 years and looked forward to a nice vacation. That starts with a pleasant arrival at MCIA that set the tone for a nice break from our work and an adventure for our daughter before school opened (they started in August).
Arriving passengers are greeted by a spacious baggage claim area.
It’s good that the airport did not feel compelled to have every space occupied by something. It makes the passengers feel and appreciate the space, which I thought was a plus for very busy airports like MCIA.
The terminal also has well-maintained tiolets, which is another feature that I think is non-negotiable for such facilities. The toilets are a major part of the first impression of a city/destination for travelers.
Communication companies greet travelers with promos. Globe and Smart offer simcards for visitors. I think these are more for the foreigners or balikbayans who probably need a local number and simcard so they don’t max out their phone accounts while traveling in the country.
People gather around the carousel to claim their baggage. The info board is working and there are signs reminding passengers to carefully identify and claim their baggage.
Many bags look similar and since no one checks the tags/stickers upon exit of the terminal, people should take care in picking up the wrong luggage. It can be an inconvenience to both parties.
This corridor leads to the airline transfer desks.
There’s a preview of one of the restaurants outside baggage claim area of the arrival level of the airport.
Arriving passengers are greeted with a spacious lobby that has two levels of shopping and dining areas.
There are two levels of shops and restaurants. Duty Free Philippines has a branch here for those who have the duty free privileges.
There are seats for travelers and well-wishers.
The corridors are lines with shops, restaurants and food stalls.
Some shops offer the popular lechon (roasted pig) and other local favorites. [Pardon for the blurry photo.]
The airport transport services are organized and have their own ‘formal’ counters. This is unlike the old times when these had informal stalls outside the airport. You can now more confidently book your car or van or inquire about tourist services at one of these counters.
I no longer took photos of the transport terminal at MCIA. I already posted photos on that in previous articles. It is the same and still efficient, convenient and comfortable to travelers. It is definitely better than NAIA’s and other airports in the country in terms of design.