Saturday, April 11, 2009


THE LAST TIME I have been to in Metro Manila was in March 2006. That was three years ago. Now, I get the chance to visit her again on March 24 and 25, 2009 afforded by my employers to process the licenses of the new firearms of Tactical Security and Detective Agency, Inc. This time I get to travel by air, round trip, thru Philippine Air Lines.

I left home at seven in the morning of March 24 to travel by taxi to the domestic departure area of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and gave myself in to the tiers of security arrangements - five layers – before boarding my scheduled 9:45 AM flight. The post 9/11 blues forced me to remove my Hi-Tec shoes and I did not hesitate there for I wore a new pair of socks. Heheheh...

MCIA Terminal

I took pictures of the waiting lounge area and within and around the plane while it was still allowed. The wide-bodied Airbus A300 plane lifted off the MCIA tarmac slightly delayed at 10:00 AM and I felt the familiar sensation I experienced during my childhood years riding in ferris wheels. From beyond my window the ground below me became a blur and slowly the houses and buildings became smaller and smaller as the plane rose up in elevation.

View from the Airbus

And within the plane

The plane circled around and the whole profile of the City of Lapulapu looked glorious at a higher altitude and the fine hues of white, blue and green were very invigorating to the eyes where the land embraced the sea on the shorelines. The slender Punta Engaño Peninsula pointed like a finger to the sea and it was so beautiful and I was tempted to take a shot with my digital camera but prudence took hold of me not to when I remembered an early announcement that all electronic gadgets be switched off while in flight.

We passed by over Carmen town and I could see the snaky dirt road stabbing through Cebu's mid-north area where I passed by last January on foot in a club-sponsored mountaineering expedition. From beyond the sea the islands of Bantayan, Guintarcan, Malapascua and other smaller islands where like untouched refuge of paradise. At 32,000 feet, the outline of the Cataingan Peninsula of Masbate could be seen clearly.

NAIA Terminal 2

Over sips of tea with crackers I enjoyed the breathless sight of the endless blue of the sparkling sea and of the sky and up ahead approaching were the cloud-shrouded landmass of Luzon. Slowly, dipping in altitude, the plane began to shake and vibrate as it passed through thick clouds and pockets of air knocked the plane's fuselage and wings.

As the curtain of clouds began to part, we were now overhead the Southern Tagalog Region and I could see below the five of the seven small lakes of San Pablo City and then the dark-lead water of the bigger Laguna de Bay. The plane passed by a wide expanse of plain dotted here and there with communities, concrete roads and buildings and more houses and more high-rise condos until it sped in a blur as it touched down the tarmac of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Driver Tanny, met me at the arrival area and I hopped on in his driven Mitsubishi L300 and we took lunch somewhere in Parañaque City. We continued on our way after that and I directed him to bring me first to BF Homes, specifically in the home of a second cousin, Sol Mendoza, the better half of DOTC Secretary Larry Mendoza. I unloaded my things with intention to stay for the night since I have a limited budget and staying in a hotel or an inn in Metro Manila for just a night is so expensive nowadays.

Inside Camp Crame

Athletic Tuesday

Then we sped over from Sucat to the south highway and then at EDSA with an overheating L300 radiator dancing in tandem to the 36-degree centigrade heat felt on the streets. Gosh, it was hot! Amazingly, the vehicle never conked out and, nevertheless, we arrived safely inside Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

I went directly to the Civil Security Group (CSG) building to endorse the agency firearm application papers for processing. There I met, face to face, Chief Superintendent Ireno Bacolod and we conversed comfortably in Cebuano dialect. PO3 Flora Ocampo of the Office of the CSG Director facilitated the papers afterward.

Sunset over Taguig

It was already five in the afternoon when I went out of the camp with Tanny but the sun still hung high in the horizon and there were still available light all around. We took the C5 Road to evade the legendary traffic at EDSA at that hour and passed by the cities of Pasig and Taguig before turning left to the south highway in Bicutan. Tanny dropped me at Sucat and I took a tricycle for my sleeping quarters deep in BF Homes.

At the Mendoza home I met old colleagues SPO4 Jack Jakosalem, SPO1 Louie Rabajante, SPO2 Derick Lacambra and PO3 Vener Lacambra; old reliables of the protection security team for the Mendoza family. Nephew (now Batangas congressman) Dongdong Mendoza was not around and so was his dad. Feeling drowsy, I slept while watching Totoy Bato on GMA-7.

In the morning, I left BF Homes after breakfast at seven carrying my baggage for Camp Crame to continue processing the firearms license and at the same time be ready for boarding for my return flight to Cebu. I commuted to Crame by jeep and by bus and reached my destination at nine as Tanny was unavailable due to an errand from my boss. Just like yesterday, the streets were extremely hot.

St. Joseph Chapel

PNP National Headquarters

Alas, all the computer servers at the police camp were down since yesterday and I was not able to complete my processing but I left the licensing fees in the care of PO3 Ocampo and went out to attend a noontime Holy Mass at the Saint Joseph Chapel inside the camp. Afterwards, I ate lunch and left Camp Crame once again for NAIA Terminal 2 at exactly three in the afternoon.

It took me almost two full hours to reach the airport as the taxi I rode in got snagged by the horrendous traffic at EDSA and at the MIA Road. At 5:15 PM, I checked in at the departure area and have myself searched by hand and by electronic means. At exactly 5:45 PM, PAL flight 863 left NAIA for Cebu. The turbine engines picked up speed as it began to move forward its upward thrust. Amidst the roar, the Airbus became airborne and floated gracefully.

Mall of Asia Globe

It sliced itself upward among a thick wall of clouds and the plane jarred and bounced against air pockets. Far to the west the horizon was sliced by the golden orange glow of a setting sun in between a dark brown mass below and a fainting blue streak above it. It was a cinematic sight and, again, I felt the urge to unpack my camera but backed down at the last minute. Frustrated, I took a pocketbook and consumed a few pages before stowing it back.

Then the cabin announced that we were now approaching MCIA and I could see from afar the bright lights of Metro Cebu. The lights from below blinked and glowed as if imitating a moving mass of fire and lava as the plane circled around Mactan Island and slowly diving in altitude and then the sudden roar of the engines automatically switched off the cabin lights signaling the start of its landing. As the rubber wheels screeched when it kissed the runway, brakes were applied reducing the blur of speed into a manageable level until it taxi its way and stopped just in time for a passage tube adhere its edges over the fuselage door.

Back again in my homeground at seven in the evening, I tarried long enough in the arrival area to see who's who among my co-passengers and I spotted three or four familiar faces and I decided to hail a cab instead and bring me home to my waiting family. They were all there. And I dined with them.

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1


ManilaBay said...

Great trip! Manila is really nice!

-bugsbunny- said...

the first time i went to manila was the first time i traveled by myself. anyway, tnx for visiting my blog.

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