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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.

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.

Eating at the Mactan Cebu International Airport

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.

Motorcycle taxis in Cebu

The recent controversies, and issues raised vs. motorcycle taxis (habal-habal) have captured the attention of a lot of people including those who don’t use this mode of transport. I will be writing about this and more of my opinion on motorcycle taxis in another article. For now, I am sharing these photos of habal-habal in Cebu.

Off-street motorcycle taxi terminal at SM City Consolacion

The terminal is located on the sidewalk at the corner of the SM lot. I assume it is tolerated by SM though it blocks the pedestrian way to the mall.

Another herbal-habal terminal near SM Consolacion but serving a different set of barangays from the previous terminal of habal-habal I mentioned.

   Fair matrix? Habal-habal minimum fares to specific destinations 

Motorcycle taxis are a popular mode of transport in many Philippine cities and are generally tolerated by local government units. I guess the treatment they get from LGUs show the role they play as a mode of public transport. It is unfortunate and disappointing that the TWG that’s supposedly evaluating motorcycle taxis in Metro Manila cannot give a favorable assessment when it is clear that these habal-habal provide people with another choice for their commutes.

Mactan Cebu International Airport – newly opened lobby area at Terminal 1

Arriving in Cebu, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the airport’s Terminal 1 has a new lobby that is now open to the public. Here are photos taken during our recent trip to Cebu last month.

View of the newly opened lobby from the baggage claim area

Passengers and well-wishers (mostly people waiting to fetch arriving passengers) at the MCIA’s new lobby

This is the arrival level and one can use the escalators or the stairs to get to the departure level

Escalators at the MCIA’s new lobby

The corridor to the transport terminal is unfinished but the path is spacious enough as shown in the photo.

This is the area closer to the older exit from the arrival area of Terminal 1, which is actually closer to the transport terminal.

A preview of a much more spacious area where a driveway used to be

I made sure to take more photos of the lobby upon our departure from Cebu. Here are those photos:

Workers walking along the newly completed pathways at the ground transport interphase for the departure area of the airport’s Terminal 1.

A familiar scene: passengers saying their farewells to relatives at the airport terminal

Carts neatly placed for use by travellers

Information signs and columns are sleek and modern. These show the way to the check-in counters.

A very spacious departure level lobby

View towards the escalators to the arrival area, which is one level down from the departure area

Shakey’s seem to be one of the first to establish a branch at the newly refurbished Terminal 1.

Corridor to the terminal’s domestic flight check-in counters

Newly installed information board showing scheduled departures and their status

More about Cebu’s airport soon!

Paseo Recoletos

The sidewalks around the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu City are named Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo de San Jose. Here are a few photos on Paseo de Recoletos.

Arcade-type walkway along the perimeter of the University of San Jose Recoletos. This part is the Paseo de Recoletos along Magallanes Street and across from the Freedom Park Market. The other is Paseo de San Jose but is not wholly covered. The latter is along P. Lopez Street.

The Paseo leads to the church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which is on the second level from the ground.

View of the Paseo de Recoletos from our vehicle. Note the architectural details on the USJR building.

Another view of the Paseo de Recoletos

The main gate of the USJR is at the corner of Magallanes and P. Lopez Streets. The photo capture the view towards P. Lopez and the side of the university along this street is Paseo de San Jose.

Frontage of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Church, which is integrated with the main building of the university, which is run by the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR).

Scenes along the Paseo de Recoletos included overloaded jeepneys, motorcycle taxis and various vendors both mobile and those who’ve set up shop across the street.

Vegetable vendor pushing a cart containing his merchandise

Scenes like these are common in many Philippine cities especially the old ones that have narrow streets and have retained much of the commerce in many areas around the city centre. It gives you a glimpse of the marketplace and commerce before the arrival of the large malls. Of course, there are what are already termed as malls around the area but these are more like large department stores than the types of SM City, Ayala Center and Robinsons Place.

MyBus at the Mactan Cebu Airport

Arriving at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), we moved towards the transport terminal where a rental van was picking us up. We were a big group and had luggage for a week’s stay so we arranged for the van, which we rented until the evening so we can go to dinner without hassle. As we walked towards the terminal, I saw a man waving a board with MyBus on it. He was calling out to passengers who might want to take this bus to Cebu City (MCIA is in Lapu-Lapu City). I wasn’t able to take a photo of the man but was able to take few as we waited for our van.

MyBus turning along the MCIA terminal driveway after picking up passengers

MyBus turning towards the terminal exit. There were a good number of passengers on the bus so that’s a good thing. That means they already have established some ridership between the airport and Cebu City.

Another photo of the bus as it waited for a car to clear its path. MCIA has very good road transport terminal facilities, which I thought was excellent when compared to those in other airports in the country.

Perhaps I would try MyBus next time I am traveling to Cebu and with less luggage? The bus as shown in the photo is configured for city operations and not for long distance travel (i.e., with luggage compartments on belly of the bus) like the limousine buses I took in Japan.

Walking in downtown Cebu City

Last month when we were in Cebu to coordinate with our counterparts at the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR), I took some quick photos of the sidewalk scenes near the university. We stayed at a nearby hotel so that meant we only needed to walk to/from USJR for our meetings. Here are some of those photos.

Many buildings in the downtown area have designs where sidewalks are practically covered, protecting pedestrians vs. the elements. This alludes to arcade design architecture you find in many old cities’ downtowns including Manila, Iloilo and Bacolod.

There are many shops and stores at ground level. Depending on the area, there will be hardware stores, electronic stores, school supplies and others.

Along some streets, one will find makeshift stalls occupying the road itself. I assume these are allowed by the city along certain streets.

Typical street vendor with his mobile store. Fruits, local delicacies and snacks, and refreshments are popular.

I believe these scenes reflect on the character of the city and gives the visitor a view of life in the downtown area of the city, which in this case is Cebu, the oldest city in the country. I will be back in Cebu soon and will be taking more photos around downtown. I’ll be posting these, too.

Another look at the Mactan Cebu airport taxi stands

This is the last of three posts about our recent arrival at Mactan Cebu International Airport. Following are more photos; this time from exiting the terminal building to the transport stand and driveway.

Arriving passengers exiting the Terminal 1 building and heading to the driveway for transport

Directional signs for various road transport options at MCIA. These include metered taxi, white taxi (airport taxi) and bus

The driveway also includes bays for private vehicles. These are mixed with rideshare vehicles such as those with Grab.

Metered taxi stand – there used to be a Grab booth here but I couldn’t find them in the area so either they might have set up somewhere in the airport or perhaps it is assumed that people can manage with their apps on their smartphones.

Mactan Cebu airport arrival – Part 2

This is a continuation of the feature on arriving at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA). In the previous post, I shared photos of our arrival at the new Terminal 2 and our walk from T2 to the domestic Terminal 1.

Passengers continue to the corridor on the Terminal 1 side

Take-off run for a commercial flight

Cramped corridor for arriving passengers heading to the baggage claim area

Bridgeway or tube at T1

We emerged from the corridor to the T1 building and a sign showing us the way to the baggage claim area

Descending the stairs or escalator to the arrival level and the baggage claim area

Visitors are greeted with posters showing Cebu’s attractions as well as ads for residential and resort developments. Also shown in the photo are information boards on arriving flights. 

Baggage claim area for domestic flights – notice the passengers with their carts or trolleys crowding along the conveyor system.

Another look at the baggage claim area and a less crowded conveyor

More photo of the arrival including the taxi stand soon…