Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Airphilexpress is no express at all

I'm bound for Tuguegarao via Airphilexpress. I'm kind of excited because the plane they use for that route is a Bombardier Q400, a turboprop. It's been quite a while since I've taken a turboprob. I used to take the DC-3 on flights to Mindoro. DC-3s are the commercial version of the trusty C-47, that reliable WWII vintage airplane. I'm also used to the Islander planes that PAL used in the short haul flights from Cebu. I've also ridden in a 5-seater Cessna plane. I love turboprops because of their short takeoffs. You're up in the air in no time at all.

But this Airphilexpress flight to Tuguegarao was scheduled to leave at 7:20am. They announced it will be 8:00am instead, and another announcenment was made saying we'll leave at 10am.

The thrill of the plane's short takeoffs is negated by this long wait. Airphilexpress used to have a quick turnaround time. PAL has rubbed its old ways on his sister company.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Easy does IT

My Tacloban trip went smoothly. I was able to install the programs and configure the computers much more quickly than in other trips. That always happen when everyone does their jobs as they're supposed to. Easy does IT.

So I had more time to tour the city. After almost twenty years since my first trip here, I notice that urbanization (as indicated by the numerous fastfood chains and other restaurants), has slowly crept in.

I also surmise that Tacloban folks love their medicine well. There must be more Mercury drugstores here per square kilometer than any other city in the Philippines. Counting the other drugstores as well, there are more drugstores here than elsewhere. I also noticed that there are a few from out-of-town med reps that stay in my hotel.

Tacloban is almost as clean as Palawan and Legazpi. This city has pride just like Cebu. They strictly implement the no jaywalking rule and other traffic rules. Tricycle drivers are also careful not to pick up fare in restricted zones. I tried crossing a not so busy street, and I was reminded by traffic aides to please observe the no-crossing signs. I gladly complied. I wish Metro Manila does the same.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

White hair chronicles XXXII: Tacloban - I have returned

I had a USAID-funded project in Tacloban City almost twenty years ago. That project started a string of other projects that involved traveling, but Tacloban was among the first. When I had the chance to work briefly in East Africa ten years ago, I was reminded of Tacloban though I'm not sure why. Now I'm back in Tacloban for my current work, and I realize why I thought of this city while I was in Dar Es Salaam.

Dar (10 years ago, at least) is a quiet city. It was just recovering from a horrendous terrorist bombing. When I wanted to while away the time, I looked for a mall or a moviehouse. The small malls (actually boutiques) closed early. And the entire city had just 4 moviehouses, all showing Indian Bollywood movies. It had no tall buildings but it had a busy international port. The people were proud of their heritage. You could feel the nation's soul.

That picture reminded me of the Tacloban I knew. Quiet. People are off the streets by 9pm. No fastfood chains, no department stores. And a noisy port near a public wholesale market.

That was then. Now there's a Gaisano's and a new Robinson's mall just outside the city. There are several Jollibees and the usual fastfood chains. There is even mild traffic in the morning. It is still far from the buzz of activities in other cities but it is getting there. One thing I notice though, many hotels have sprouted (and degenerated) since then. But it is still hard to find a good Tacloban hotel. The reviews at are spot on.

But it is nice to have returned.