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In the news recently were figures released supposedly by Philhealth showing the top hospitals receiving reimbursements from the agency for claims relating to COVID-19. Southern Philippines Medical Center, a hospital in Davao City received 326M pesos while UP-PGH got 263.3M pesos. I was not surprised that my social media newsfeed included posts from both sides of the fence (The fence sitters among my friends on social media were not commenting about these anymore and seem content in just posting on food or whatever activity they were in.). Each were posting information divulged by the whistleblowers in the ongoing hearings on the issues pertaining to PhilHealth funds.
I will not go into the political aspect of this controversy but will just focus on the transportation aspects of the issue. I will just compare the top two hospitals in the list to simplify the assessment while mentioning others in general.
The claim that the hospital in Davao was the equivalent of PGH in Mindanao doesn’t hold water as the hospital does not treat even 10% of the cases that PGH is handling and for a much smaller geographical area. While UP-PGH is accessible to a larger population and for less travel times, SPMC is not as accessible to say people coming from other major cities like Cagayan De Oro or Zamboanga City. Yes, there are other major cities on the same island that have sizable populations with ‘catchment’ or influence areas comparable to Davao City. They, too, probably need funds to be able to treat COVID-19 patients. It is true that there are many other hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR) that have the facilities to treat COVID-19 patients. However, many of these are private hospitals that tend to incur more costs for the patient and are not generally accessible (read: affordable) to most people who are of middle and low incomes. Thus, UP-PGH can be regarded as the frontliner among frontline hospitals.
What? There are other public or government hospitals in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces? True, but many of those have very limited capacities in terms of facilities and Human Resources. The same applies to Davao’s case as well because there are also medical centers and hospitals in surrounding provinces. And to round-out the resources available to these hospitals, local government units have also (over) extended their resources to hospitals. Perhaps the allocations and proportions can be explained in another way that is not the “apologist” but based on actual numbers pertaining to cases handled by the hospitals?
I am posting for reference this article compiling helpful references for urban planning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the references listed are based on the US experience and I am sure there is already a wealth of information coming from other countries as well including those that have been successful in mitigating the effects of the pandemic.
Brasuell, J. (2020) “Urban Planning Resources for COVID-19”, Planetizen, https://www.planetizen.com/node/109238?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-05142020&mc_cid=2e155996b6&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed: 5/16/2020]
Here are the recommendations of UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team: “Effective Reactivation of Public Transport Operations for the New Normal through an Information Exchange Platform for Collaborative Governance”
There have been many discussions lately about urban planning and transport planning in relation to the pandemic currently gripping the world. There are opinions and assessments about topics such as population density, employment, public transportation, physical or social distance, as well as the prospects for reducing car dependence.
Here is a nice article that compiles some of the better articles on planning related to the current Covid-19 pandemic that’s affecting our planet:
Brasuell, J. (2020) Debating the Future of Cities, and Urban Densities, After the Pandemic, planetizen.com, https://www.planetizen.com/node/108814?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news-03232020&mc_cid=a891454817&mc_eid=9ccfe464b1 [Last accessed 3/24/2020].
The world will never be the same after what everyone has gone through during this pandemic. Let us not wish we could go back to normal because, as the saying goes, that “normal” was what got us here in the first place.
Keep safe everyone!
While NAIA Terminal 3 has several floors of shops and restaurants, it can get very crowded at the terminal. MCIA has renovated its domestic terminal to include a much improved food court inside (after checking in and passing security) the terminal and restaurants and shops outside. Its food avenue for passengers show us what a modern airport should have. MCIAA definitely did very well here and the design should be a good example for other airports, even domestic, to emulate.
|Food court at MCIA domestic wing|
|There’s food for people of various preferences. You can have pizza, pasta, Filipino dishes, ramen, and of course, lechon|
I prefer to have some ramen if I have the time for a leisurely meal. Otherwise, I get my food from La Bella, which has pizza, pasta and paninis. They usually have freshly baked breads and pastries and I usually buy brownies from them. I take these home as my daughter and I love these fudgy treats.
My friends and I were just talking about inflight meals prior to boarding our Cebu Pacific flights last week. En route to Zamboanga, we didn’t have to get some refreshments for the typically 1.5-hour flight. There were many choices to eat from at NAIA Terminal 3. However, heading back to Manila on a lunchtime flight, we joked about what could be available on the plane. We all had our experiences of ordering items on their menu for flights scheduled at different times of the day (e.g., red eye, last flight) and it always seems as if the airline didn’t have many if not most of what appears on their menu.
Lucky Me cup noodles and pretzels for lunch
To be fair, the airline offers pre-ordered meals that they do deliver inflight. We got pre-ordered meals for our flights to and from Singapore last year. But not everyone would usually avail of this option and there is real demand for inflight meals even if there were just pastries or quickly prepared (i.e., instant) meals. I don’t remember the last time we were able to avail a meal more decent than the cup noodles shown in the photo. In fact, we were curious about the new items they had in the menu that included champorado (chocolate porridge). That was supposed to be available last December 2019 but so far we haven’t had the chance to have it inflight.
I just wanted to greet everyone a Merry Christmas!
[Photo is of Christmas tree at Plaza Pershing, Zamboanga City]
Before I post more on a recent trip to Singapore, I backtrack a bit to the trip to Sri Lanka. Following is a much delayed second part to my feature on Bandaranaike International Airport.
Scale model of the airport development project with this angle showing the terminal and land transport interface
Terminal building with short pier for the gates
Closer and clearer look at the interfaces with rail and road transport
From the display we proceeded towards our gate.
More shops mostly selling gems, jewelry or tea
Looking out a window to see Sri Lankan Airlines planes lined up at the terminal
Other aircraft at the terminal are accessed via transporter(i.e., bus).
Long corridor to our gate
Passengers head to the gates via a moving walkway. Otherwise, it would be a long walk.
Behind these seats is the smoking room
Passengers enter the pre-departure lounge through one last security check and the boarding pass and passport check by Sri Lankan Airlines ground staff.
Before I forget, I am posting the following photos of Bandaranaike International Airport when we departed for home last September.
Arriving at the airport terminal driveway – it was quite early in the morning and we didn’t expect to see so many passengers
Entering the terminal, you are greeted by rows of shops selling a variety of items mostly souvenirs and foods and tea
Souvenir items include clothing, tea, and electronics
Local products including handicrafts. I bought a mask and ref magnets at one of the shops.
The terminal has many empty spaces. I guess they still do not have so many visitors to necessitate more commerce?
The area just before the check-in counters is spacious. We wondered if the terminal can be quite crowded during the day.
Check-in counters for Sri Lankan Airlines – there were a lot of visitors from Arab countries due to an international Islamic convention in Colombo. Many of them were catching the earlier flights out of the country that day.
Check-in counter for our flight
After checking-in, we immediately entered the pre-departure area. Large screens show flight schedules and there were signs towards the gates.
An escalator leads to the pre-departure area where there are more shops and restaurants
Of course, there were many shops selling teas but there were also many local products like these leather stools that also doubles as storage. These are collapsible and can easily be packed for travel. A friend brought home one for his home.
Jewelry store at the terminal – Sri Lanka is the source for many of the world’s gemstones. Of course, the prices are very competitive and one should probably go to legitimate stores in the city instead of buying at the airport.
Liquor and cigarettes are popular items
More tea shops along with cosmetics and perfumes at the duty free stores
The area between the shops and the corridor towards the boarding gates
More photos soon!
The Bandaranaike International Airport reminded me of the larger airports in the Philippines. At least that was my first impression of this main gateway for Sri Lanka upon our arrival. Here are photos I took upon our arrival at Colombo last September.
We deplaned away from the international terminal where a bus was waiting for us.
Other passengers deplaned from the rear door and another bus was waiting for them.
The bus was not airconditioned so we had our first taste of the Sri Lankan climate. Coming from a tropical country though, it was okay for us.
Passengers deplaning had to stop on the stairs as our bus was full and they had to wait for the next one.
Other aircraft on the tarmac of the airport
The air traffic control tower as seen from a distance
Upon disembarking from our buses, passengers ascend towards the immigration section
It took us a while to clear immigration as there were few officers assigned to foreigners that time. Upon clearing immigration, we walked towards the baggage reclaim area only to be greeted by this sight.
On one side were shops selling mostly liquor and cigarettes and on the other were shops selling appliances and other electronics. I didn’t expect to see so many selling items like TVs, refrigerators and washing machines. And then we thought these were quite similar to the set-up of duty free shops in Manila during the 1970s to the 1990s when many if not most arrivals were either balikbayan (vacationing from the US, Canada or Europe) or Overseas Foreign Workers who were on a break or between contracts. We observed similar situations at Bandaranaike as many Sri Lankans arriving appeared to be OFWs.
We descended towards the baggage reclaim area, which turned out to be an expansive area.
There were few passengers so that added to the feeling of space.
The airport had many conveyor belts
It took us a while to get to our conveyor belt. Along the way, I took this photo of the customs channels. The green was for travellers with nothing to declare. The red was for those with taxable items.
Passengers positioned themselves around the conveyor belt
Passengers waiting for their luggage
Upon getting our luggage, we proceeded towards the terminal exit. The way was lined with currency exchange stalls, hotels booths and tourist travel booths.
Currency exchange and tourist services
The path towards the terminal exit is lined with tourist agencies offering various services and packages.
Passengers are greeted by those picking them up (including hotel transportation) and those offering transport services to various destinations.
There were many empty stalls intended for duty free shops at the terminal. Perhaps these will be occupied once the airport complex is completed and there is an increase in flights at Bandaranaike.
Passengers waiting for their rides upon exiting the terminal
One of the driveways at the arrivals area. This was for private vehicles picking up arriving passengers. We crossed this to get to the driveway where our Uber car was waiting for us.
A friend engaging our Uber driver – it wasn’t difficult to make conversation as most Sri Lankans could speak English; one of the legacies of being under British rule for a long time.
View of the airport driveway
Familiar scene of a buddhist image – we thought this was similar to scenes in Thailand
More photos from our trip to Sri Lanka soon!