Manila, Philippines. It was just before noon on March 5th, when I got awaken with the crackling of the overhead speaker of the Korean Air. The captain (who introduced himself as Kim) was announcing that we are about to land at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The stewardesses (who I swear all looked alike) started to get busy prepping every passangers for the touchdown. “thank you for flying Korean Air, It’s another hot and humid day, welcome to Manila” the captain announced.
I lazily open my eyes and breath a sigh of relief, I couldn’t wait to get off the plane. I was tired, my whole body was numb and I could not take another bite of the airline food.
It was a grueling 24 hour trip but the way I was feeling, it could have been 2 days on the road. I tried to calculate how long it had been since I left San Diego, but I was already out of wack! I was in a different Time Zone. Instead I peered into the plane’s small window and saw Manila for the first time in 12 years.
It’s more fun in the Philippines
I strolled into the Philippine Immigration as I saw people lining up to show their travel documents. I waited in line for a few minutes while looking around. The airport seems to be much cleaner that what I can remember. Airport personel were more courteous and there were a few signs saying “it’s more fun in the Philippines”, ” Bawal ang epal, pumila ka kung ayaw mong mapahiya” – probably referring to personalities who insist of getting ahead of eveyrone due to their stature.
When it was my turn, the immigration officer told me I was on the wrong window. I looked at the sign and it says “Philippine Passport Only”. I forgot I was carrying an American Passport. I would have argued with the officer that I am still a Filipino “Sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa”.
I passed customs without any trouble. As I stepped out of the arrival area, I can feel the heat and humidity. I had anticipated such weather condition so I wear a light t-shirt. But nevertheless, I started to sweat profusely. My shirts started to get drench and I can feel my face turning red.
I headed to the pickup area where I would hope my brother would be waiting for me. As I crossed through the pedestrial lane, there was a sign that says “Pedestrians have the right of way”. I continue to cross non-chalantly when I saw this black tinted car running towards my left. I looked at car and I still continue walking. The car didn’t stop, instead he accelerated and missed my face by an inch. I abruptly stopped, and looked at the car as it sped away. The plate number reads”LIM 99″.
I managed to smile and said to myself “Welcome back to the Philippines SysOp”. I finally made it to the parking lot where my brother was already waiting for me. I gave him a bear hug. He asked me how was the trip. I said “Couldn’t be better! glad to be home brother!”. What do you wan to do? he asked. I said “Am hungry!” (to be continued)