A balikbayan’s nightmare | Inquirer Opinion

A balikbayan’s nightmare

/ 01:19 AM June 01, 2011

AS A balikbayan, I always look forward to going home and traveling around the Philippines with my family. However, with a heavy heart, I must say that arriving in Manila was a nightmare. When our family van got stuck in traffic along Airport Road in Pasay, a lanky teenager forced open our van’s window and begged for a meager dollar. My mom (God bless her heart) gave the teenager P50, thinking that he would leave us alone. However, he didn’t stop asking for a dollar while he tried to reach for the van’s door; we also noticed that he was counting how many baggages were in the van. We were luckier than the L300 van near us which was swarmed by similar looking thugs. There were no police in sight! We felt scared and helpless, so my sister decided to threaten the guy with her pepper spray while we jammed the guy’s fingers between the window. The guy only gave up when we reached the intersection, and when our van started to speed up. I know that there are many rackets out to victimize balikbayans. I have watched in the news that desperate people do desperate things near airport terminals, but how come the police are doing nothing about this?

To add to our travel nightmare, the airline was a big mess. Terminal 3 was a market place, full of passengers who were not aptly informed about their flights. Lines for check-in were all over the place, ground personnel were walking around shouting to the high heavens which flights were boarding. This scene made me wonder if the airline even bothered to train its staff on PR and proper communication skills. They didn’t even have the formality to use the public address system or even a megaphone so they can properly announce important flight information to their customers.


As an icing on the cake, Laoag International Airport should not be categorized as an international terminal. First, the airport was closed for all afternoon/evening passengers who were wise enough to be at the terminal two to three hours prior to their flight. Second, the staff did not even bother to arrive a little bit early considering that they work at a supposed “international” airport. Third, passengers were made to wait outside the terminal, while the staff were happily watching TV in an airconditioned lobby.

I hope our government does something about these tourism woes. I love our country, but I can’t deny that there is something wrong in the system


New Zealand, [email protected]

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