I am in the Philippines for a work trip today.
This being my first time in Manila, there were obviously somethings I was gawking at. (Not the girls… you pervert)
Firstly, I was immediately struck the minute I stepped out from the plane into the airport. everything was like out of the eighties. Vinyl flooring, formica tables, brushed aluminium strips , etc etc.
Then the next thing that struck me was the very friendly people. Filipinos are nice people, from the airport pickup person, to the driver who got me to the hotel.
When I got to the hotel, another thing struck me. I must have a swollen head by now, being struck by so many things. Anyways, before the taxi was allowed in, there were guards with mirrors coming up to the taxi to assist them looking up underneath the taxi to check for bombs. Then, the metal detector that I had to go through befor ethey allowed me into the hotel. To top it all, teh porter guided me to a small cube, and asked me to open my luggage for him to check! Sheesh!!! Its like worse than going into Malaysia! And this isn’t any run-of-the-mill hotel you know.. This was the Renaissance (Marriott) hotel!!!
The barrier before any car gets onto the hotel premises.
The Metal Detector.
Then I got into my hotel room, and yet another thing struck me! The left a Mormon bible in my drawer!!! Cool! I knew the Philippines is a Catholic/Christian country, but I didn’t a cult such as the Mormons were treated like a Christian church in Manila, much less allowed to place their bibles in the hotel.
Then today, when I headed to the airport to travel back to Singapore, I got the biggest shock of all. I arrived at the airport at 4:40pm, a good two hours before my Singapore Airlines flight at 6:40pm. The site that greeted me boxed the air out of my lungs, and left me a little breathless. This place was like a busy bus Interchange!
I had to queue for check in. (When I reached the check in counter about 15 minutes later, the guy told me I had already pre-checked in when I left Singapore, and I needn’t have queue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Arrgghh!!!!!
Anyways, after that, I checked through custom, which took me a whole 40 minutes!!!! There were so many people, but no customs officers to clear everyone. Goodness! so inefficient.
Then I checked into the gate area, and was presented with another queue. This time, I had to remove not only the normal phone and camera for x-ray scanning and a metal detector, everyone had to remove their belts, and shoes. Not only that, everyone wass subjected to a body search!!!
Goodness!!!! I really really hate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Can the Philippines government please upgrade your airport please? Take a leaf out of the Singapore government’s book. Use upgrading as an election goodie!
Lastly, one of the things that struck me most positively, are the jeepneys. They are just so beautiful and colourful. They lend a very unique flavour to Manila. I hope they never outlaw them, or start the COE scheme in Manila. The Jeepneys sure die one.