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Another look at the Zamboanga Airport – arrival

We traveled to Zamboanga earlier last month and it was our first trip to the city since the first lockdowns in 2020. We were supposed to travel in March 2020 to conduct data collection for a full week but then there was the nationwide lockdown implemented to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. If we were already there when the lockdowns were implemented, we could have been stranded at our hotel and perhaps spent a few weeks to perhaps a month before we could return to Manila.

We disembarked from the plan using the more sophisticated and senior citizen- and PWD-friendly ramps.

It took longer to get down both in terms of distance and disembarking time.

Other stairs and ramps are shown in the background. I recall only Cebu Pacific had these for their aircraft.

Our first look at the renovated Zamboanga International Airport (Aeropuerto International de Zamboanga in the local language – Chavacano) since February 2020. At the time the roof was already falling apart at different locations.

A look back at the ramp

Passengers walk towards the arrival area of the airport

The baggage claim area is practically the same as in 2020. The only notables are the signs encouraging physical distancing as well as the stickers on the floor that designated where passengers were to position themselves.

As you one can see, people no longer really observe social distancing but all are wearing face masks.

A closer and clearer look at the sign and the floor sticker asking people to practice social distancing

The main driveway of the airport remains closed to general traffic. This is used only for special occasions and VIPs.

A look back to the terminal’s arrival area as we walked to meet up with the driver of our service vehicle while in the city.

Photos from the departure/return leg of our trip in the next post.

Returning to Mactan, Cebu

This weekend we are in Mactan to take a much needed break after a busy 2 weeks. I will write soon about the travel between Manila and Cebu including the conditions at the airports. For now, here’s a few photos upon deplaning from the aircraft.

A bus waited for us as we disembarked from the Airbus A321
Other passengers wait for the next bus

I look forward to the beach and a few side trips. Our plans for the weekend are quite flexible so its uncertain what places we get to visit or perhaps stay put at the resort where we are staying. I do want to see the completed bridge connecting Cordova with Cebu City (Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway or CCLEX).

More on the trip to Cebu in future posts.

What’re closed and what’re open – shops and restaurants at NAIA Terminal 3

I promised to post more photos about NAIA Terminal 3 yesterday. Prior to entering the pre-departure area, we decided to have our breakfast at the 3rd level of the terminal where most of the stores and restaurants are located. Prior to the pandemic, we ate at the area shared by Chowking, Tapa King and Army Navy Burgers. We also wanted to see which stores and restaurants were open as most of us were traveling via Terminal 3 for the first time since February 2020 (almost 2.5 years ago). Here are photos taken yesterday at the 3rd level. The scenes remind me of how friends described Haneda, Narita and Hong Kong, which also have a lot of shops, stores and restaurants still closed.

The Victoria’s Secret shop is open. So is the Bath & Body Works store across from it.

Some of the

Many of the small stores have closed. One wonders if these will eventually reopen or they will just be replaced by other stores once things get back to ‘normal’.

These used to be stores selling sports and outdoor wear including an Adidas store and a swimwear shop

What used to be a WHSmith convenience store is now boarded up. I assume there are still some items inside unlike the other closed stores where only the shelves remain.

McDonald’s is open and attracts a lot of people looking for that familiar meal.

Some stores selling chocolates and donuts are open. I saw that there are two other Krispy Kreme stores at the pre-departure area of the terminal. One is just after the final security check and the other is at the ground level near Gates 132 and 133.

Max’s is closed. Hopefully, it will reopen once the demand returns.

Chowking and Tapa King are closed. That means your options for no frills, inexpensive meals (particularly all-day breakfasts) are limited at the terminal.

Chinese restaurant Mongkok is also closed.

Army Navy is also closed at this area. They are open at the ground floor pre-departure area.

Even the kiosks are closed.

Ka Tunying’s Cafe, which was also a popular breakfast place, is closed.

Ramen Nagi is open.

What remains open is Mary Grace where you can get really good meals. However, if you’re on a budget, look elsewhere for food. Breakfast here can set you back 500+ pesos, which can cover the meals of 3 people elsewhere.

Kenny Roger’s Roasters is open along with the Jollibee at the same level.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) cafe is open as well as the Wendy’s beside it.

I have yet to see which stores and restaurants at the ground floor (arrival area) are still or already open. I hope I can take some photos when we return later this week.

Flying again thru T3

Its been a while since the last travel for work purposes. I used to fly at least once a month for project meetings, seminars, workshops and/or field work. My first flight during the Covid-19 pandemic was for a vacation last April. That was through NAIA Terminal 2 as we took PAL for our voyage.

This will be the first time in almost 2.5 years that I will be flying out of Terminal 3. Here are a few photos as we checked in for our flight.

Queue at baggage drop counters of Cebu Pacific at T3
View from the queue

I will share more photos of T3 in the next posts.

Tagbilaran – Panglao Airport Arrival

The last time we were in Bohol, the airport was still in Tagbilaran City. One had to travel about 45+ minutes if you were staying at a resort in nearby Panglao Island that is part of the province. The old airport was closed (the runway though served as a venue for ) and replaced by a new airport. This one is located in Panglao Island and close to the resorts that are the main attraction of the province.

We deplaned via tube/bridge at the new airport terminal

A photo of the control tower from the bridge

Did the airport terminal architecture take inspiration from Bohol’s famous Chocolate Hills?

The corridors were well lighted, again thanks to the building design.

Our plane at the tarmac or apron unloading luggage and cargo

We arrived at the baggage claim area ahead of most people. The carts were already placed across the conveyor belt by airport staff.

Belt 2 on the other side is for international arrivals. The airport already served international flights before the pandemic. These have yet to resume.

Passengers file unto the baggage claim area to pick up their luggage.

The hallway towards the terminal exit. The toilets are on the left side of the hallway.

The sign indicates international arrivals. The airport currently does not serve international flights but these will likely resume once the pandemic threat is clearly contained. Other airports like Iloilo and Bacolod have also suspended international flights.

The international arrival area at Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport

Airport driveway

Exit towards our destination

A view of the control tower as we headed towards the airport exit gate

The new road connecting to the national road circling Panglao Island, which connects to the local roads leading to the resorts and towns in the island.

It now only takes something like 10 to 15 minutes to many of the resorts in Panglao Island. This is a convenience to tourists. However, the distance from the main island of Bohol (the rest and most of the province) means a longer travel time for Boholanons or Bol-anons to/from their hometowns from/to the airport. This looks to be a non-issue considering the pros of the new airport outweighs its cons.

More on this airport soon!

Inflight snacks in the time of Covid-19

Inflight, there wasn’t really much difference pre-Covid-19 and now (not yet post-Covid-19) except perhaps that the flight attendants were wearing PPEs and masks. We were on full flights both outbound and inbound of Manila and the airport terminals were also already crowded. We flew on Philippine Airlines so there was no food and drinks for sale on the flight. But they did distribute some snacks and drinks to passengers.

Butter cookies and water were our inflight snacks for the MNL-TAG flight. For drinks you actually can opt for coffee or tea.

 

The cookies were by Figaro and not from some obscure manufacturer.
We had green peas and water on the TAG-MNL flight.

 

Nutrition information at the back of the pack.

 

The guisantes pack was manufactured in Cebu and is certified Halal.

 

I assume that longer flights on board full service airlines like Singapore Airlines or Japan Airlines would have modified their inflight meals service in light of Covid-19. We are hopeful that we can soon travel overseas to again enjoy the attractions in other countries.

Flying again – NAIA Terminal 2 Departure

It’s been more than 2 years since the last time I went on a trip via aircraft. We finally decided it was safe to take a brief vacation and to take advantage of the still few tourists heading to resorts out of Manila. Here are a few photos taken at NAIA Terminal 2 as we set out to travel to Panglao Island in Bohol for a much needed break from work and from Covid-19.

Check-in counters at NAIA T2 were already busy when we arrived at the airport

The scene at the terminal lobby was as if there was no pandemic (technically, we aren’t out of the Covid-19 pandemic yet).

Past the final security check and into the pre-departure area

Some sections were less crowded. This section where we had some light lunch as we waited for our gate to be announced was usually reserved for international flights. Here were gates for US destinations and it was spacious because of the number of passengers and the gauntlet-like security checks required for US-bound passengers.

Our boarding gate for our flight to Tagbilaran-Panglao Airport

Passengers waiting for their boarding calls near our gate

We can only imagine how much more crowded this terminal could still be once we go back to “normal” or pre-pandemic travel conditions. It is good to see at least most passengers wearing masks. All adults at least were wearing masks and only small children and infants weren’t. We also hope that airport terminal staff do their part in ensuring the facilities were disinfected regularly so as to minimize the risk of Covid-19 and other infections.

Island hopping again

It’s been more than two years since we last traveled by plane and 10 years since our visit to Panglao in Bohol. So its really something we looked forward to considering we now travel with our daughter and there’s a lot to write about on the experiences.

Our bangka leaving Panglao for Balicasag Island

And there’s a lot about transport to write about and share in this blog. There’s a new airport, the nice roads and the journey between Panglao and Balicasag, among others that I will be writing about soon.

Abangan!

Roadside scenes – the Kalayaan hydro power plant

Last weekend’s getaway allowed me to take a few quick photos of a familiar sight that is the Kalayaan hydro-electric power plant located in the town of Lumban, Laguna at its border with Kalayaan town in the same province. Built in 1982, it was the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and is the only pumped storage plant in the Philippines. Basically, what ‘pumped storage’ means is that it can reverse its turbine to suck water from the basin at the level of Laguna de Bai to charge what could be a depleted Caliraya reservoir. It can then draw water from the lake to generate power. If water levels at the reservoir are normal to high such as during the wet season, it can draw water more than it needs to pump back into the lake.

Approach to the viewing bridge
Approaching the floodgates
There’s a viewing bridge like the one in La Mesa Dam and Angat Dam but it is closed to the general public. The barangay welcome marker is also located here.
The viewing bridge as seen from the road. It is closed to the public but people still stopover to take photos. One can monitor the water level from the tower at the end of the bridge.
One landmark near to the penstock for the Kalayaan plant is the welcome sign for Kalayaan town along the national road.
One of the Kalayaan power plant’s penstocks, a gigantic pipe connecting the Caliraya Lake to the plant at the level of Laguna de Bai
Another photo of the penstock, which is 6m in diameter and 1,300m long. This feeds into two turbines that generate power as water passes through them.

There is another power plant in the area, the Caliraya Hydro Electric Power Plant. It is not located along the national highway but to the west of the northern tip of the lake and near Pagsanjan River. I will write about that in another article.

On the road again for a weekend break

It’s been a while since The last road trip. We finally pushed through with our weekend break from our now typical work from home set up. Heading to our airbnb somewhere in Laguna, we passed by the Pililla Wind Farm. The gigantic wind turbines are a sight to behold.

A view of the wind turbines in Pililla from the highway

The wind farm is still closed to the public. The energy company or the LGU probably didn’t want people to be congregating there for sightseeing while there is still the pandemic. Along the way, you see a lot of motorcycle and bikers groups in numbers approaching pre covid level. Are they among the vaccinated? Or are they just oblivious to the risks they impose on others should they be infected but asymptomatic? Just asking…

Anyhow, here’s the view at the end of our trip:

Mystical Mt. Banahaw as seen from Caliraya Lake