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List of infrastructure projects for the Philippines’ BuildBuildBuild initiative

I was looking for a list of projects said to be prioritized by the current administration in the Philippines and mentioned in the presentation made by government yesterday. Here’s one I found from GMA News:

Infrastructure projects lined up by the Duterte administration

Noticeable for me are the following:
1. No mention of major bridge projects that were heavily hyped both on mainstream and social media – these bridges include those that were proposed to connect the islands of Panay and Negros, Negros and Cebu, and Cebu and Bohol. It doesn’t mean, of course, that these have been abandoned but likely only sidelined for the moment.

2. Break-up of Clark Green City into several components – this seems to be a more realistic approach especially considering how big and complex this project is, and how many agencies or entities are and will be involved

3. Mass transit projects in Metro Manila – these include big ticket projects such as the proposed subway, BRT and the rehabilitation of PNR lines. These are all projects that should have been done a long time ago but for various reasons have been delayed. Say what you will about so much resources being poured into Metro (Mega?) Manila but it is the economic center of the country and efficient transport will go a long way in generating resources that can eventually be used in other parts of the country.

4. Emphasis on Clark Airport – it seems to me that the current administration is focused on developing Clark as the alternative (if not the main) gateway to the greater capital region. This is a departure from the hype we have received about a replacement for NAIA including one that was proposed at Sangley Point in Cavite.

5. Scaling down of Mindanao Railways – instead of pushing for a much grander (and unrealistic I think) railway project for the entire island, they identified a more realistic and perhaps practical line connecting Tagum, Davao and Digos. One colleague noted, however, that this corridor is already heavily serviced by buses and vans so rail ridership is at best threatened from the start.

What’s your take on the proposed projects and the list in general?

NAIA Expressway – T3 to T2/T1

Last Friday was our first time to use the NAIA Expressway. This was one of the major projects under the last administration and under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program and became operational last year after being delayed (It was not operational during the APEC summit in 2015.) for some time. I also commented on the need for NAIA X in one post before as I preferred to have a transit system instead. NAIA X is basically and mostly beneficial to cars and not necessarily for public transport. It also practically limits if not eliminates the possibility of having elevated transit (e.g., monorail or AGT) to connect the 4 terminals among them as well as to areas outside the airport zone (BGC, Makati, etc.).

I thought this post would be a useful one for travelers especially those coming in and out of the airports at this time of the year. A lot of people are departing or arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which is a main gateway to Metro Manila and adjacent regions. It can get congested along the roads between the four terminals of the airport and since there is not internal transport system linking them, travelers would need to travel along public roads. It cost 45 pesos (less than 1 USD) for the stretch from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 (same if you’re headed for Terminal 1), and I thought it was well worth it considering it can really be quite congested between the 4 terminals. That congestion has already victimized a lot of people before with many missing their flights. But then perhaps one major cause of that congestion was the construction of the NAIA Expressway?

Entry ramp across from Terminal 3 and before the Sta. Clara church at Newport City

Toll plaza where travelers pay upon entry to the tollway

Just before the toll plaza where most booths are for mixed ETC/cash transactions

Upon exiting the toll plaza, travelers have to deal with multiple lanes merging into two

Two-lane section with neither shoulders nor “elbow room”

  Directional sign providing guidance especially for vehicles headed to Terminals 1 &2

Directional signs for vehicles bound for Cavite and Macapagal Blvd (left) and Terminals 1 or 2 (right)

The tollway section goes underneath the section headed towards Macapagal Boulevard and the Coastal Road

The lane from Terminal 3 merges with another from the Coastal Road

Signs showing which side to stay along towards either Terminal 2 or 1

Fork in the road – the tollway branches our to either Terminal 2 or Terminal 1

Off ramp towards Terminal 2

Next: Terminal 2 to Terminal 3

Another look at the Tacloban Airport

The Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City is the busiest in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas). Tacloban being the regional center in terms of commerce/business, attracts significant air traffic and should continue to do so as it steadily recovers from the devastation brought about by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Following are photos of the airport from our recent trip to Leyte, where we had meetings in Tacloban and Ormoc.

IMG_2485Passengers arrive at the Tacloban Airport

IMG_2486Philippine Airlines turboprop aircraft arriving at the airport

IMG_2487Cebu Pacific passengers disembarking from the plane

IMG_2489Passengers waiting for the checked-in luggage at the carousel 

IMG_2490Passengers file out of the arrival area unto the terminal’s driveway and parking lot

IMG_2491Visitors may inquire about the Tacloban at the city’s information desk located at the arrival area.

IMG_2492 Sign of a rent-a-car service at the airport showing rental options and available vehicle models.

IMG_2653Crowded check-in area at the Tacloban airport passenger terminal

IMG_2654There were long queues at the check-in counters as well as the payment booths for the terminal fee.

IMG_2655We entered a very crowded departure area as flights were delayed and people accumulated at the terminal. These are Air Asia passengers.

IMG_2656These are Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific passengers. Notice the temporary wall behind which is a section of the departure area that’s being renovated.

IMG_2657Shops at the departure area sell souvenirs and food items including local delicacies like moron and binagol.

The airport terminal is already very congested and it doesn’t help that flights are frequently delayed for various reasons. In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), there have been proposals to move the airport to another location. However, it now seems that there is no better location for this within the city and elsewhere in the province. There are opportunities and potential though to improve the current airport and perhaps make it more resilient against typhoons of the scale of Yolanda.

The proposed new passenger terminal building is already much delayed and the runway can be extended. The latter is now possible with the areas for the extension already cleared of informal settlers mainly due to these areas being ravaged by Yolanda and authorities not permitting people to rebuild their houses there.

Taxi stands and queues at NAIA Terminal 3

I saw a photo going around recently in social media showing the long queue for taxis at the NAIA Terminal 2. That’s actually not as bad as how the queues at Terminal 3 can be. Terminal 2 only serves Philippine Airlines’ international and trunkline (read: Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, etc.)flights. PAL has transferred many of its domestic flights to Terminal 3. Terminal 3 serves all the flights of Cebu Pacific plus several major international airlines that have transferred there from Terminal 1 including Delta, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and ANA. Following are a few photos of the rental car, fixed rate taxi and metered taxi stands at Terminal 3. These photos were taken last May, and still within the ‘summer’ peak period of travel in the Philippines. I was there to fetch the wife who was arriving from the US via Narita.

IMG_1550Rental car booths along the island across from the arrival curb and driveway of NAIA Terminal 3.

IMG_1551More rental car and limousine booths (many unmanned) just outside the arrival level. Note the car rental poster/sign affixed on one of the columns.

IMG_1552 Fixed rate coupon taxi stand

IMG_1553Published taxi fare rates (as approved by the LTFRB) may be found in the area. I apologise for the photo not being clear enough for my readers to see the rates.

IMG_1554Long queue for the metered (regular) taxis at NAIA Terminal 3

IMG_1555Metered taxi stand at the NAIA Terminal 3 arrival area

Passengers now also have the option to take the so-called premium airport bus services operated by logistics company Air21. There is also an airport shuttle service connecting NAIA’s four terminals. If staying at a hotel, people may also opt to avail of their hotel’s vehicle service. Also, Uber is now allowed to fetch people at the airport (I don’t exactly understand how authorities could know before if a car was Uber.) after being banned (duh?) from the airport.

NAIA Terminal 3 international departure wing

My recent trip to Singapore allowed me to take a few photos of the departure area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3. This is the same terminal that had a blackout recently that drew a lot of flak from a lot of people, and for which the airport manager was supposed to have attributed to bad luck (malas). I don’t agree as many of the problems of the NAIA terminals are the outcomes of poor management that, in other airports in other countries, would result in the manager’s firing.

IMG_1056Directional signs and spaces reserved for future shops greet the traveler as he/she enters the area after the final security check.

IMG_1057A view of the international departure wing’s expanse with an electric cart for passengers requiring transport assistance

IMG_1058There are now more duty free shops at this wing unlike a few years ago when I was traveling frequently between Manila and Singapore.

IMG_1059Passengers walking past the shops

IMG_1060There are more choices now for duty free shopping and those returning to Manila may want to take advantage of the ‘travel light’ promo of Duty Free Philippines, which gives returning passengers 5% discount on their purchases. Items will be collected upon their return to Manila.

IMG_1061Seats for one of the gates at NAIA T3’s international departure wing

IMG_1062There are still TVs there and all of them were showing replays of NBA games

Shopping at NAIA Terminal 3

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) has four passenger terminals. Of these, Terminal 3 is the largest and the building space has not been fully utilized. Due to the legal issues surrounding its construction, it took so much time for the terminal to be developed so it could be to its full potential. Last week, when I fetched my father who was flying in from Iloilo, I had more than enough time (his flight was delayed by more than 2 hours) to go around and see the new additions to the airport. These included new restaurants and shops at the south wing of the airport. Among the more conspicuous and perhaps newest addition is Kiss & Fly.

Kiss & Fly is found at the departure (3rd) levelof the terminal. The interior looks like a department store in a mall. There is a Starbucks at one of the entrances to the store. I think this is the 2nd Starbucks at NAIA with the first one at Terminal 1’s pre-departure area.

You can now practically do your shopping at Terminal 3. There are many stores selling clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, electronics and toys. The only thing lacking perhaps is a supermarket but then there are at least 3 convenience stores inside that could provide what the other shops couldn’t in terms of food and other items. Of course, there are duty free shops in the terminal, and if you are qualified, many shops offer duty free prices when you present your travel documents. Regular prices are similar to shops at malls but if your timing is right and there is a sale, you can get items for significantly less than the mall prices. So there is no excuse for not being able to get a souvenir for your loved ones or significant others, especially if you are arriving at Terminal 3.

Mactan Cebu International Airport – International Departures Check-in

In our recent trip to Cebu, we had more than enough time before our flight back to Manila so we decided to explore the airport that is going to be transformed into a ‘resort airport’ as per press release of the group tasked to expand and upgrade Mactan Cebu International Airport. There have been significant changes to the airport including the improved taxi stand for those arriving at Mactan. (NAIA should note of this, which has its version in Davao’s Franciso Bangoy Airport as well.) Following are some photos of the international departures check-in section of the terminal.

IMG11835-20150623-1419Spacious area for international passengers checking-in for their flights

IMG11836-20150623-1419Passengers queued at the Silk Air counters

IMG11837-20150623-1419Passengers at the Cebu Pacific counters

IMG11838-20150623-1419Air Asia counters near the end of the terminal. Note the self check-in machine in the photo. There are machines like this for Air Asia and Cebu Pacific that can be used by passengers wanting to bypass the queues for those who have not checked in online. This is particularly useful for people traveling light and in a hurry.

IMG11839-20150623-1420A view of the Philippine Airlines counters, which are closer to the center of the airport terminal.

IMG11840-20150623-1421Counters for travel tax and OFW exit clearances

IMG11841-20150623-1421Airport terminal fee counters at Mactan

IMG11842-20150623-1421The final security check for domestic and international passengers at Mactan Airport is between the domestic and international check-in sections. The area is spacious unlike the previous set-up though I guess this can or will get crowded eventually with more flights being served by the airport.

A lot of people expect much from the expansion and upgrading of Mactan Cebu International Airport. For one, this is a major test case for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme as applied to a major transport project. Succeed or fail, it will be a good reference for future projects particularly, of course, for airports. Definitely, the biggest measures for success would be the comfort and convenience of travelers using the terminal as well as the impact of a very good airport terminal to a city’s economy.