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On data on mobility trends

There are actually a lot of data available on mobility if you know how to look for them. One good source is Apple. Yes, Apple has access to thousands of smart phones that allow them to track individuals (oh you didn’t know that?) movements. Here is the link to Apple’s data:

https://www.apple.com/covid19/mobility

And here is a graph showing mobility trends in the Philippines from that resource:

Some politicians and political appointees are now saying that we are in this predicament about COVID-19 because of a lack of discipline. That is bullshit. Many stayed home and/or reduced their movements. And then there’s that study showing 90% wore masks when they go out. No, it’s not lack of discipline that’s the problem but the lack of essential services and goods that are supposed to be delivered by those who are suppose to govern and the deficiencies from the start in addressing the spread of the virus especially from abroad. Perhaps these people criticizing Filipinos should look at their mirrors more closely and look left, right and across from they comfy seats to see what’s wrong with the way government has been handling the pandemic?

Limited – Inflight meals on Cebu Pacific

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.

Sri Lanka Airport departure – Part 2

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.

Pre-departure lounge

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.

Sri Lanka Airport Departure – Part 1

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!

One small step and a giant leap

Here’s a different kind of article that blends three of my favourite topics – transport, space and watches. Its the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. That’s the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It took a lot of calculations for men to finally reach the moon and return safely to earth. There certainly were a lot of factors that affected the trip and these are not as simple as traveling between points A and B like what we usually try to figure out for conventional earthbound transport.

Did you know the first watch on the moon was an Omega Speedmaster chronograph? They needed them and other instruments for their precision that’s required for such sensitive and demanding missions.

Subsequent versions of the moon watch have already had updated movements inside them but these Speedmasters are still the standard in as far as NASA is concerned.

There were actually 2 moon missions in 1969. The first one, Apollo 11, in July and the second, Apollo 12, in November. The next one, Apollo 13, was a failure in terms of the moon mission but succeeded in terms of the astronauts surviving what must have been a terrifying ordeal in space. If you watched the movie, there was a part there that was supposed to have happened where they used it the chronograph of their watch to time a procedure they had to do while troubleshooting their module.

Quite expensive these Omegas are. However, there’s another watch that has been officially recognised as used on a moon landing. That other moon watch is a Bulova (sorry Rolex but the watch that was supposed to have been brought to the moon was more an accessory or memento than an instrument actually used by an astronaut on the moon). Here’s a piece associated with the 4th (Apollo 15 in 1971):

Back of a Bulova moon watch model stating the mission when it was used.

Advisories and policies pertaining to EASTS 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS) will be held from September 9-12, 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However, with the bombings last April 2019, a lot of people mainly prospective participants have worried about the security situation in the city. The local society in the Philippines, the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP), also communicated its members’ concerns to the EASTS Secretariat. While TSSP received informal correspondence on the situation and assessment by the secretariat, only recently has the EASTS policy been released:

http://easts.info/policy-about-easts-2019-conference/

In addition to this, the organisers have sent the following email to assure prospective participants about the security situation in the city and country, which I quote below:

“Dear Author,

Thank you for submitting a paper for EASTS 2019, the 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies hosted by Sri Lanka Society of Transport & Logistics (SLSTL). We are pleased that EASTS has decided to continue with hosting the conference in Sri Lanka, despite the unfortunate incident, that took place on the 21st of April 2019 taking into consideration the rapidly improving situation in Sri Lanka.

As the host institution I write to encourage your participation and wish to convey that the decision to continue was made based on the following facts and security measures currently in place.

Current Situation
·       There have been no further terror attacks since 21st April the day of the Easter bombings.
·       Security Forces have identified those responsible and arrests have been made both in SL and overseas.
·       The attacked churches (St. Anthony’s Shrine, Kochchikade, St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya and Zion Church, Batticaloa) and hotels (The Kingsbury, Shangri-La Colombo and Cinnamon Grand Hotel) are now restored, refurbished and opened to the public.
·       Emergency has been lifted and the country is functioning normally.
·       All schools, universities, Government and private workplaces, hotels, public places, etc. have implemented body and bag/luggage scanning.

Travel Advisory
·       UK relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
           https://economynext.com/UK_relaxes_travel_advisory_to_Sri_Lanka-3-14701.html
·       India relaxes travel advisory to Sri Lanka
           https://economynext.com/India_relaxes_travel_advisory_to_Sri_Lanka-3-14596-7.html
·       Switzerland relaxes travel restrictions to Sri Lanka
           http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19A/May28_1559020675CH.php
·       China lifts travel advisory on Sri Lanka
           https://www.newsfirst.lk/2019/05/26/china-lifts-travel-advisory-on-sri-lanka/
·       Australia relaxes travel advisory on Sri Lanka
            https://www.newsfirst.lk/2019/06/14/australia-relaxes-travel-advisory-on-sri-lanka/
·       Italy relaxes travel advisory
            http://www.dailynews.lk/2019/05/31/local/187125/italy-relaxes-travel-advisory
·       Germany soften travel advisories on Sri Lanka
            http://www.dailymirror.lk/business-news/India–Germany-and-Switzerland-soften-travel-advisories-on-Sri-Lanka/273-168105

Hotel Security
Hotel security has been strengthened and meetings are held periodically. SLSTL is satisfied that all the nominated hotels and the Waters’ Edge, the site of the conference have made arrangement that allow a safe environment for the conference to be conducted. See below article in this regard The Kingsbury stands strong.
http://www.ft.lk/travel-tourism/The-Kingsbury-stands-strong/27-677814

Government Support
In order to solicit the highest level of Government support for the conference, Prof. Tetsuo Yai, President, EASTS and Prof. Shinya Hanaoka, Deputy Secretary General, EASTS have also been invited to make a personal visit to Sri Lanka to meet the relevant Government Ministers and Heads of Security Establishments ahead of the conference to finalize arrangements.

As such we are confident that Sri Lanka is now very much safer than before the incident and we encourage you to take part in the conference without fear.

lovesrilanka.org / #LoveSriLanka
http://lovesrilanka.org/

We look forward to welcoming you in Sri Lanka for EASTS 2019.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,
Prof. Amal S. Kumarage                                                                         
President – Sri Lanka Society of Transport and Logistics (SLSTL)
Senior Professor, Department of Transport & Logistics, University of Moratuwa”

 

Here is the link to the EASTS page providing information about the conference: http://easts.info/easts-conference/

I am among those looking forward to traveling to Sri Lanka this coming September. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and I became familiar with it mainly through a close friend I met when we were students in Japan. We still keep in touch through email after he moved with his family. They are now residing in Australia.


Arko along the highways

I tried to take photos of the arches that used to typically mark the boundaries between cities, municipalities and provinces en route to Baler, Aurora. I didn’t find many despite the numerous towns we passed along the way. Here are the one’s I saw, with some apparently rebuilt after the road widening projects of the DPWH.

Welcome arch to the Province of Nueva Ecija as we exited Tarlac Province – the first town after La Paz, Tarlac is Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija

Welcome arch of the Municipality of Aliaga, Nueva Ecija

Cabanatuan City’s arch as we exited towards Llanera

Welcome arch of Llanera, Nueva Ecija

Relatively new and modern arch design of Rizal, Nueva Ecija

More on these arches soon!

Do you have photos of arches in your place that you can share? Post them on the comments section! 🙂

On the Holy Week rush and long distance trips

It’s that time of year again when people travel a lot of mostly to go back to their hometowns to spend the Holy Week break there. Many will also be going on leisure trips; heading to tourist destinations such as beaches, which are likely the most attractive places during this sweltering summer season. Most people will likely travel on land and would be taking public transportation in the form of provincial buses (while there will be more cars on the roads, more people will be on high occupancy vehicles).

Provincial bus terminal near the end of Gil Puyat Ave. (formerly Buendia Ave.)

One wonders if the mode shares for these provincial trips could have been different at least for Luzon Island if the old PNR northern and southern lines were retained, maintained and modernised. What used to be the Main Line North stretched all the way to San Fernando, La Union with stations at most major cities and towns in Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Pangasinan including Malolos, San Fernando (Pampanga), Angeles City, and Dagupan City. Meanwhile, the Main Line South stretched all the way to Legazpi City in Albay with stations in the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay. These included stations in Calamba, Los Banos, Sta. Cruz, Lucena and Naga. Surely, more people would have taken the trains for these long distance trips if the rolling stock were a lot like those operation by Japan Railways?

Visits Iglesia itinerary?

I spotted this ad at a nearby SM mall listing churches that can be part of a Visita Iglesia itinerary in the Province of Rizal. I took the following photos showing the major churches in the province. These include old churches found in the older towns including those in Morong (ca. 1620), Taytay (ca. 1630), Pililla (ca. 1672), Baras (ca. 1686), San Mateo (ca. 1716), Tanay (ca. 1783),  and Binangonan (ca. 1800). Antipolo has one old church – Boso Boso Church (ca. 1669). The Shrine of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage while being the more famous of the two was completed in 1954. The first church though was completed in 1632 but was destroyed several times due to unrest, earthquakes and the Second World War. Cainta also had an old church (ca. 1707) that was destroyed several times including during WW2, and the new church was completed in 1968.

We’ve visited many of these churches before but are no longer into the Visita Iglesia considering our experiences of traffic congestion the past years when this tradition became more of a tourist thing or gig. We’d rather go to a nearby church to pray or stay at home to enjoy the peace and quiet; not to mention the comforts of being at home.

Trip to Baler

I have yet to post a few more articles about my trip to Naga City,Camarines Sur and yet here I am traveling again, this time to Baler, Aurora. I have made it a point to travel to at least one new destination every year and this year it looks like I will be traveling to at least one new local destination and perhaps one new place overseas. So I will be concluding March by sharing this photo of two bancas (the type with the outriggers for balance) I took earlier this morning during my stroll along the beach.

These boats are used by fishermen though they can also be used for transportation along the coast. These are the non-motorised type so it takes some skill and constitution to paddle these vessels especially when the waters are choppy.

I promise to post more about this trip soon including sharing photos of arches and the dam roads of the Canili River Reservoir and the Diayo River Reservoir in Maria Aurora town.