BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I'm in any one of the four airport terminals in Manila, at least once a month or maybe more, either as a passenger or the bf's chauffeur.

Whichever it is, the experience is the same. The parking lot is a maze, at least in the main terminal, a labyrinthine hell of a mess, filled with cars parked in all directions and motorists born to violate traffic rules. 

There's no telling when one can park or if one can park at all, so don't risk bringing your car if you have a flight to catch because you might just miss it looking for that elusive slot. 

If you're lucky to get one, a dizzying scene of well-wishers and eager loved ones await you. There's not just one family member to send a departing passenger off but jeep loads of clan members. 

When you're waiting for an arriving passenger expect to see a monstrous crowd of waiting families, like monkeys behind bars or prisoners of war. It's no use telling the passenger to stand and wait under the right letter; you won't see him anyway in the mayhem, not with the mumble jumble of cars breaching the two minute limit by the minute. 

The comfort rooms in this part of the country will bring you no comfort with its stench and dirt. And don't bother flushing the toilet because it's either not working or the handle's too dirty for even the dirtiest hands to touch. 

The security personnel are as grouchy as The Grouch so save your smiles for that arriving loved one, whatever need or inquiry you may have. 

Immigration and Customs officials are comparable. You'll chance upon friendly ones more often than not but corrupt ones negate all these small consolations so you begin to wonder what the hell are you paying your taxes for.

Flights will be delayed. The heavens must be performing a miracle if your plane arrives or departs on time so expect to wait and wait longer. 

Still, there's no escaping airports. For a wanderer like me, it's that gauntlet walk to get to wherever my feet takes me -- to some paradise in the southern part of this God-forsaken land or to my favorite Southeast Asian country. 

Yet, it wouldn't be too much to hope for a nice deal, at least for my P550 terminal fee. Clean restrooms are the first on my wish list. 

But then again, who am I kidding here. The Philippines has the worst airport in the world, after all. Never mind if it bears the name of the father of the top official of this land.

(While waiting at the airport, two hours and still counting...)