Monday, August 13, 2007

Few days in Manila

We had a busy weekend. We went to Friesland to visit a friend and had a stopover in idyllic Giethoorn, dubbed by many as the Venice of the North. As I still need to upload the pictures online, I will have to post them later in this blog.

For now, I have pictures and short videos of Manila.

The still empty, still unused, and controversial airport: The NEW Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila. If the government, the contractors, and the courts find amicable settlement with this without end fiasco, they would need to re-invest millions of pesos to cosmetically bring back this new unused airport into its ironically, new state. Right foto is the new airline price fighter of Asia (the Easyjet and Ryanair there): Philippines’ Cebu Pacific Air.

Manila touch base:


The overpopulated-congested Metro Manila from the plane. You can see Makati City skyline (Manila Central Business District) and its buildings shooting up to the skies from the distance. If I am not mistaken, the population of Metro Manila is close to 18 Million as we speak (for the whole country probably about 90 Million?), which is more than the total population of the Netherlands, about 16 Million.

Smooth landing after a turbulent flight! The little kids stopped crying mid-flight when the airplane rocked and dropped; they were scared of the turbulence. Due to hard winds and very cloudy skies, landing was not easy. The voice of the pilot croaked through the intercom announcing we will be delayed as we are number 10 on the queue list for landing and therefore must fly another 10 minutes. This of course did not help the already anxious passengers. That’s why some of them clapped when we finally hit ground, ha-ha!

Frankly speaking, it was quite hard to choose between having screaming kids on flight or turbulence.

Makati City in Metro Manila (the busines capital of the Philippines), taken near the entertainment and malls area. One of my plans was to take a nice skyline foto of the city in Ayala Avenue or Paseo de Roxas, or from on top of a tall building however we didn’t have much time to lose. Next foto is the old and uniquely designed open-air Catholic Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati.


Like the rest of the cities in South East Asia, the Philippines is not an exemption -- It is a city of malls. “Malling” is a real serious hobby and pastime in this country. Check the video above to see a sample of this interesting malling activity. This was taken in Makati City: Glorietta Mall.

For a short joyride, we took the Metro from Ayala to Ortigas. Foto above is the Metro in Ortigas and the colorful bright tail lights in EDSA highway. On the left foto is a campaign from the local tax department (BIR - Bureau of Internal Revenue) requesting consumers to always ASK for a RECEIPT when buying something.

Sadly, trust has a loooong way to go in the Philippines when graft & corruption is concerned.
Anyway, during the short metro ride, we encountered a man fervently sharing his faith. He preached (in Tagalog) fearlessly and forcefully the word of god while the metro bulleted its way above EDSA highway. He became hostile when someone from the back shouted “Shut up!”. In response, he fired back a very un-Christian rebuke. If this preacher’s objective was to proselyte strangers into his belief, church, religion, or whatever... then I must say that he failed miserably. I think he needs a cold shower. See video below:


A very packed Metro ride and the zealous preacher (who was screaming his tonsils out to the commuters).


This is by the Ortigas-SM Metro stop covered walk along EDSA highway. The traffic police officer said hello to us and told me I am lucky because I have a Dutchman (filming him) that is handsome, LOL!!! (if Dutchman is not called decent, he is handsome, hhmmm...)

Left foto: Beauty has become pretty much consumerised in Manila. Even in Metro stations, power bleaching and botox services are sold. Middle foto: I caught the security guard with his mouth open. Right: Me looking a little bit drunk (I’m not actually, Carlsberg beer tastes like flavoured water) in Café Havana Greenbelt.

Lastly, but surely not the least...


The taxi ride to the old Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

We had a close encounter of missing our KLM flight back to Amsterdam because of the following:

1) The queue outside the airport entrance gate was amazingly horrendous!!! I muscled my way to the head security and pleaded to give us priority since our flight is leaving in 1.5 hours and we are still stuck outside. My charms worked, the head security signaled his men to give us way, lol. I know, I am stupid, I have totally forgotten how crazy old NAIA is.

2) Who would have expected airport terminal fee will increase? From P550 to P750 in 2 years time (a 36% increase! Wow, if only banks offer this too)?! We only have P1400 together left thus leaving us with P100 short. I went back to the lobby to try my bank and credit cards with the ATM but they all did not work. So I begged KLM to charge my credit card against cash. They charged me US$15 for P500. Too high but what can you do in cases of emergency?

3) After queuing up and paying the terminal fee, we moved to immigration, which is another horrendous experience. The line stood still for 30 minutes. Old NAIA is just too old and under capacity, and the Philippine government is busy having a feisty catfight with the contractors of the newly, er no, 4 years ago constructed (new NAIA) airport, which until now is empty, unused, and left to rot because of their self serving egos.

4) KLM was accommodating enough to wait for all of us poor stranded passengers at the queue. KLM personnel personally assisted us (I actually grabbed one of them) in the immigration queue -- they took our passports and personally handed them to the grumpy immigration consul for the exit stamp, thereafter, they smuggled us through and out of the nightmarish never-ending immigration queue.

5) Then we ran to our gate. The pilot stood tall at the door of the airplane eyeing us both up and down. He probably was thinking along these lines -– “Sooo, these are the idiots who ruined my flight schedule...” Well, 2 passengers down, there were still 9 left stuck in immigration after us, as told by the KLM personnel who smuggled us out of immigration.

I felt like a superwoman after. Dutchman never lifted a finger. Damsel in distress saving herself and the knight in shining armour.

More fotos of Manila can be found here: Manila, Philippines Fotos

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