Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Departing from Tacloban Airport, Getting Worse

This love affair with Samar & Leyte is taking me to some places not at all beautiful (in case you were thinking everything about my travels is like Lulugayan or Calbayog)! But hopefully things will get noticed and rectified starting with us talking about them in the open. One of these is the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport a.k.a. Tacloban Airport for a shorter name!

Having an old airport building becomes uglier due to a style of management that seems to have been taken from the book of idiots – if there is such a thing anyway! This topic is not about how old and inadequate the building is, since we all know it has long been so, I will just be talking about how airline passengers are having a hard time due to movements in and around this building that you will really feel is being orchestrated by nothing better than an idiot!

It is not only inconvenient to many passengers, it is discriminatory. Whoever is managing this place does not probably even think what an airport is primarily for. that is for the safety, comfort and convenience of the traveling public. My notes? Here we go...

Going to the airport
If you were a well-to-do resident of Tacloban and nearby places, this one topic may not be totally applicable to you since you probably have the luxury of a car or even cars sending you off. But most passengers who ride planes from Tacloban do not have this – even if they are well-do-do. Why? Because they live far from the place such as many of the towns in Samar, Biliran and southern or western parts of Leyte – making it impractical to bring their own vehicles. Thus, they use public transportation to reach the Tacloban airport.

How? From those far-flung places, you usually take buses, jeeps or vans like (Duptours, Vanvan’s or Grand Tours) to Tacloban, then hop on a jeep that goes to San Jose / Airport. It’s a little bit of a gruel as it is already, right? And then this airport makes you gruel more just to be able to go to your check-in counter!

How is that? The jeep stops some 100 meters away from the airport terminal and you walk rain or shine on a pavement that has no sidewalks, has puddles of water and no cover or canopy to shelter you from the sun or drizzle. This was not so in the past. Look at the satellite map and pictures for a clearer illustration of what this inconvenience is. Add to that, as you walk, the private vehicles of the well-to-do and the airport employees keep honking for you to get out of their way. Eh saan ka maglalakad, sa damuhan na baha?!

I asked why and learned that the CAAP just implemented this new procedure for unknown reasons. The jeep drivers say, sometimes they are not allowed to enter the area (labeled “A” in the pictures), yet sometimes they are, so they could drop their passengers at the side of the building (“B”). Even this, was not like so, before.

I asked an airport employee (CAAP, not airline) and at another time the guards. They said they do not know the real reason. They just know that if there is an airplane parked, public utility vehicles must already make a u-turn at area “A”. So I pressed on with more questions, hoping to get something like technical, safety or security-related reasons. The guards said “waray kami mahimo sir, just following orders”. The CAAP employee told me “kay nakakasamok kuno hira” referring to the jeeps. In my mind, all I said was “really now?”! When I said this is inconvenient for most passengers he said “kay amo ngani na-radyo-bombo na ini sir, pero ambot ano gud it rason hit am mga labaw”! When I asked “taga-dinhi iyo labaw?” the reply was “Ilonggo nga bubulok, sir”! And we laughed together!

I asked some fellow passengers and received various replies. Two nuns were walking with me from a jeep (I volunteered to carry one of their heavier bags) and one of them said “the management should do something”. I did not say anything to that but in my mind I just said “eh sister, eto na nga ang something that their management did. Hanggang ganito lang ang kaya ng isipan ng kung sino man ang bobo nilang management”! Hehe, can’t throw a vindictive in front of nuns!

On another occasion, I asked a family of 8 persons who got off a jeep and walked the distance (“A” to “B”) with me. Of them eight, 4 were passengers – a woman with a cute baby of about 1 year old and her parents probably in the 70s or 80s. The rest were family members sending them off. Woman said “idiots really, that’s why I’m taking my parents to Canada. I am just praying they won’t like coming back here ever! The brother of the woman (non-passenger) even had this to say “maupay namanla kon may-ada hira mga wheelchair tikang dinhi… takay hin magbubublag ga it wheelchair hin nga klase hin kalsada” I was laughing there and he added “ngan di ga daman in hi Tatay masakay hin wheelchair kay di man hiya luri”! I learned they are from Can-avid Eastern Samar. The father of the family, walking slowly said “just follow the rules, if you are not the ruler”. I almost said “shut-up lolo” but I opted to keep quiet!

Take note: when there is no plane at tarmac, jeeps can go all the way to the side of the building (“B”) to drop passengers. Some jeeps can even go to drop their passengers at that police/military camp beyond the airport (“E”). So will you plan and time your arrival at the airport so that there is no aircraft there? Hmm, that would be stupidity to the level of their CAAP manager’s little brain!

Alternatives? Well there are! And here we go…
1) Hire a jeep or van like Duptours or Grand Tours from their terminals in the city to this airport. But it will cost you a minimum of P200 or P50 per person if there are 4 or more of you! You at least get dropped at the side of the building (“B”) where it still takes about 80 to a hundred steps until you reach the entrance of the departure lobby! And remember, the jeeps from downtown only costs P13 per passenger.

2) Hire the unmetered taxi of Tacloban named ‘Lhuiller Taxi’ and it can drop you right in front of the departure area which is just some 10 to 15 steps (labeled “F” in the pictures). Your cab enters via the right side of “J” and proceed to “F”! But it costs P300 per cab, though you can haggle. Gosh, ano yan Divisoria?! Meron pang tawaran hangyu-an in these iPAD times?

3) Be rich, have your own private vehicle to drop you off at the airport. You also get off like in item 2) above!

4) Be corrupt, Use the ambulance or any red-plated vehicle of your town or city and you can also be dropped off as above. Curious about that ambulance? Go ask if there has ever been a patient from La Paz, Leyte that was airlifted yesterday (9/24/12). The answer is none since I saw the very personalities who alighted from that ambulance. I even know where they went since we were on the same flight hehe!

There is even an issue between item 1) versus 2), 3) or 4) – if you opted for item 1) which is just the same as you had your own vehicle, your van could only go as far as “B” and not “F” – ask the guards why and they will be more than prepared to show you a memorandum that says public utlity vehicles are not allowed and so so so. But what is item 2)? And what is that compared to PUJs from elsewhere with a sign board saying “family use” that can be allowed to “F”? Well, kung bobo ang ulo, bubulok liwat an mga galamay di ba?!

But if you were just a normal, practical and law-abiding citizen, you have to face the inconvenience described. Thus, as you can see, that idiot of a rule is discriminatory! It is somewhat saying 'only the rich and the corrupt can enjoy comfort and convenience at the Tacloban Airport'. Of course with an adage that should say 'subject to the interpretation of the lowly brains of the CAAP guards'!

Hey, before you get me wrong, let us clarify why this is a pesky inconvenience. The simple reason is: THIS WAS NOT SO IN THE PAST! Now you might say, it is different now? Then I will say “how is it different, has this terminal ever even seen at least a little improvement”? And when you think of a passenger terminal, you should think of the majority of the riding public, not just a few.

If as a manager of a terminal you can’t seem to think of a way to control drivers of public utility vehicles at an airport (that you say nakakasamok), you should resign. Accept it that you are incapable and move elsewhere like cut sugarcane somewhere in Negros or Panay.

If you want drivers to behave, don’t let passengers suffer. Let me make a simple analogy kasi nga baka mahina talaga ang utak ng CAAP management as said above by his very employee mismo! If you place sugar on the table, ants will naturally come to get them, so ano, hindi ka na lang gagamit ng asukal? Bobo! That is what you are doing to the passengers by pushing the public conveyances away from your ugly building!

Oh, and last August, I happened to have seen this announcement at some wall inside the departure waiting lounge. THE NERVE! Good I read some news that Tacloban opposed it! Good move Taclobanons! It only shows you have brains! I even think that these kinds of issues should involve the congressmen and officials of Samar and the rest of Leyte since their constituents also frequently use the Tacloban Airport – indeed a gateway to Region 8!

Let us do the arrival in my next entry! Haruy!

1 comment :

  1. Update: Jeeps are now allowed back to drop people off at area B and even wait at area J even if there is a plane at the tarmac. Thankfully! Maybe they read your blog!