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I am back in Cebu for a few meetings for a conference we are organising together with the University of San Jose-Recoletos. Upon landing, I snapped this photo of the Mactan Cebu International Airport’s second terminal, which is designated for international flights. The control tower is also in the photo as well as part of the old terminal that is used for domestic flights.
View from our Cebu Pacific Airbus A320
I will post about the airport and some street scenes in Cebu in the next days. But before those, I think I still have one on Zamboanga airport that I have been procrastinating about. I will also post something about the conference we are organising later in July. Abangan!
I wanted to post about the new taxi stands at the Mactan Cebu International Airport as early as September of last year but I didn’t have good photos to show in the article. Last December, however, I was able to get a load of pictures during 2 trips to Cebu. The terminal at the arrival level of the airport is basically divided into 2 stands – the White Taxi Stand and the Yellow Taxi Stand. Here are the photos of the taxi terminal at Cebu’s airport.
Covered facilities allow for all-weather queuing of passengers.
White taxis are regular taxis while the yellow ones are ‘airport taxis’ charging higher fares.
That’s the queue behind us, all going for the regular taxis.
If the queue for the white taxis is proceeding at an acceptable pace, few people take the yellow taxis. Vehicle-wise, yellow taxis are newer and better maintained models. My observation (based on limited experience) is that yellow taxi drivers are also less reckless than drivers of white taxis.
Here are a few photos from the second trip last December when we experienced long queues for taxis. I think we arrived during the morning peak at the airport when a couple of international flights using wide-bodied planes arrived.
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.
Spacious area for international passengers checking-in for their flights
Passengers queued at the Silk Air counters
Passengers at the Cebu Pacific counters
Air 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.
A view of the Philippine Airlines counters, which are closer to the center of the airport terminal.
Counters for travel tax and OFW exit clearances
Airport terminal fee counters at Mactan
The 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.
The trip to Cebu would not be complete without taking new photos of Mactan Airport’s departure lounge. This was already expanded and improved a few years ago to accommodate the steady increase in the number of visitors to Cebu. It will soon be part of a major project to expand and upgrade the airport so perhaps this year will see the start of a transformation of sorts for the airport. Following are a few photos describing the departure area.
A crowded departure lounge greets travelers upon completing the final security check. The boxes at the right and near the garbage bins are containers for items prohibited from being hand carried to the aircraft.
Passengers tend to congregate near the eateries and shops even if their gates were a few minutes walk away.
Eateries and other concessionaires at the airport departure lounge include those offering Cebu lechon, dimsum, donuts, sandwiches and others.
There’s a small screen showing the status of flights. I think the airport should eventually have a bigger screen for such useful information.
The District Emporium specializes on locally made stuff including bags, accessories, crafts, footwear and other interesting items travelers can take home as souvenirs.
List of Cebu Pacific flights boarding at our gate and the one near it. These many flights meant a very crowded waiting area. You can see from the photo passengers standing and seated on the floor as they wait for their planes to arrive and be called for boarding.
Inside the departure area that was apparently all for CebPac flights, many seats are actually unoccupied by people. Many seats have bags or other stuff on them care of passengers who tend to hog seats for themselves.
I expect to be in Cebu at least one more time this year. We have a big conference coming up in September for the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies. This is a biannual international conference that is hosted by different Asian cities and which the Philippines will be hosting for a second time (The first conference was held in Manila in 1995.). We’ll see if there is a drastic change by then as the airport project is one that is tentatively listed as part of the technical tours for the conference.
I recall a quote from the cold war era when Nikita Kruschev was supposed to have asked “how many divisions did the Pope had under his command?” This was basically a challenge to the Pope after the latter made some statements regarding the Soviet Union and its military action in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. A similar challenge could be made, albeit vastly reworded, for many advocates of various transport programs and projects to prove they had the numbers or the proof to support their calls for certain projects or programs to be implemented. Often, the proof comes in the form of examples or demonstrations of their proposals. Simplest perhaps would be to present examples of best or good practices in other countries (e.g., bicycle paths in Europe, transit in Singapore, walkways in Japan, etc.).
One that is still fresh in my mind is what has been said to be the “challenge” of Malacanan to the DOTC to present a “proof of concept” for BRT as a pre-requisite of the proposed project in Cebu to be approved. This “challenge” boggled the minds of many experts and advocates of public transportation as BRT is well established around the world and there are many cities with BRT systems worth emulating (To be accurate, there have also been failures but these were mainly due to compromises made that led to the systems not adhering to essential BRT requirements.). What’s stranger was the response from DOTC to do a demonstration via an experiment at Bonifacio Global City to simulate BRT operations. Obviously, this experiment could not be a really good approximation of BRT (something along Commonwealth would have been more suitable) given the conditions at the Fort.
With the recent approval of the Cebu BRT project, we now look forward to its construction and operation. I am aware of how much work was put into the non-technical aspects of this project (i.e., social and institutional) and so a lot of eyes will be on changes to Cebu City’s transport system once the BRT becomes operational and the expected rationalisation of the existing public transport routes and vehicles would take place. There will definitely be a transition period and it is not known how long this will be or how much opposition the change will encounter. Doing workshops and consultations, and getting commitments here and there is one thing. Having the BRT operational and actually affecting the operations (and revenues) of conventional road transport is another matter.
Many cities will look to Cebu’s experience and probably emulate it should the BRT be a success. Metro Manila is too complicated for other cities to identify with unlike Cebu, which likely has similar transport and traffic issues to cities like, for example, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan De Oro or Legazpi. Of course, there will be exceptions and unique problems for each but density-wise, Cebu compares well with more cities in the country than Metro Manila. Here’s hoping that the BRT would finally have its true and actual “proof of concept” in Cebu and that this can demonstrate the benefits of such a system to other Philippine cities along with a necessary rationalisation of existing public transport modes.
The earthquakes that affected mainly the provinces of Bohol and Cebu in central Philippines this morning reminds us of the need to be more prepared for such natural occurring calamities that are practically unpredictable. I like what the Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum stated about the need to check design, materials and construction workmanship for structures in order to have these built in compliance with structural engineering guidelines covering seismic design. These apply also to transport infrastructure like roads, bridges, airports and ports. These are important for relief operations as accessibility is critical to mitigate impacts of disasters.
I post the photos of some of the heritage churches we were able to visit during travels to Bohol in 2008 and 2012 as a reminder of sorts of what we probably have lost in terms of cultural heritage assuming we are unable to restore these structures to their old forms. Perhaps the local (and national) chapters of architects (UAP) and civil engineers (PICE) should pitch in to make sure restoration work will be undertaken with care and of the highest quality.
Bell tower of the Loboc Church in Bohol, which crumbled due to the earthquake
Loboc Church, which was also destroyed by the earthquake
Baclayon Church, also in Bohol, whose watchtower was destroyed by the earthquake
Interior of Baclayon Church
Facade of Dauis Church in Bohol that was also destroyed in the earthquake
Another view of Dauis Church
Interior of Dauis Church
.There are many heritage structures around the country and in the nearby islands of Panay and Negros alone, there are many examples of these that need to be assessed and perhaps fortified in the likely occurrence of a powerful quake in the future. In addition, the damaged roads and bridges and the landslides that have blocked many roads reminds us of the need for more disaster resilient transport infrastructure. Resilience may also mean the provision of redundant infrastructure to ensure alternate routes for relief operations.
I haven’t been able to get decent photos inside Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in previous trips to Cebu. And so, when I finally had the opportunity recently, I wasted no time taking a few photos inside the terminal. MCIA is frequently in the news these days as its proposed expansion is being bidded out. The airport is the second busiest airport in the country after Manila’s NAIA; serving more than 6 million international and domestic passengers in 2011. This will continue to increase as Cebu develops further in terms of business and tourism.
Check-in counters for Philippine Airlines
The check-in counters for Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit) and Seair (now operated by Tiger Airways) were practically beside PAL’s. The PAL counters between Zest Air and Seair used to be Air Phil Express counters. The latter is now known as PAL Express, PAL’s repackaged budget airlines.
Cebu connects with many other cities in Visayas and Mindanao. The number of domestic flights are comparable to Manila and there are destinations in Mindanao that do not have direct flights connecting to Manila. Instead, one would have to fly via Cebu or Davao.
Information on designated terminals for flights to and from Manila. PAL subsidiary Air Philippines, which became Air Phil Express and now PAL Express used to fly out of NAIA Terminal 3 with PAL exclusively using Terminal 2. With the re-organization of PAL and its more aggressive approach at present, the airline now seems to have expanded and is now competing with Cebu Pacific for space at Terminal 3.
There are many souvenir shops at the airport, many selling food items like the popular dried mangoes, otap, rosquillos, and dried sea food. Popular brands are Titay’s and Shamrock. The items at the shops at the airport are priced higher so it is advisable for people to purchase souvenirs at local shops or supermarkets in the city. Titay’s and Shamrock have their own shops in Cebu and Mandaue. Dried fish is best bought at the market in Cebu (Ask your driver to take you to the “tabuan” market.).
Islands Souvenirs is an established brand in the Philippines specializing in souvenir shirts and other items. I used to collect shirts from the cities I have visited and I have already collected quite a lot from my travels in the country. There is an Islands Souvenirs shop at most major cities in the country. MCIA also has a Timex stall at the pre-departure area. Timex is a watch company producing high quality watches out of the economic zone in Lapu-lapu City.
Pre-departure area at MCIA – the area can get quite crowded during the day when most flights depart out of the terminal. PAL fields wide bodied aircraft to address the high demand between Manila and Cebu during the day.
Gate 4 seats at the MCIA
There’s been a lot going on in MCIA ever since the former Cebu City Planning and Development chief Paul Villarete took over as General Manager. I’ve noticed the improvements as I have been to Cebu quite frequently since 1996. These include a cleaner terminal and more efficient services in the airport. MCIA is a work in progress and should soon be upgraded with a new terminal building. I’m hopeful that the groups bidding for the project will do a great job as at least two of them are associated with top airports in Changi (Singapore) and Incheon (Korea).