from the commuter

The photos which I took myself are random images of commuting and life. Enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Zam-Bas Escapade!

Coming from all points of Metro Manila, as far as Quezon City, we arrived at various times at the airport, with Alan the earliest to check in. I was the fourth, in a group of six traveling to Zamboanga, to arrive, and I thought I was already late. From force of habit, I directly went to the pre-departure gates immediately after checking in when I should be  meeting with my other companions having their breakfast at the second level foodcourt of the NAIA Terminal 3. Few minutes before four in the morning, the airport terminal looked like this:

One by one they came and accompanied me at pre-departure gates before taking our AirPhil Express flight to Zamboanga. It was hard telling what they were feeling during those few minutes before they were to board a plane taking them to Zamboanga, a place, which, for some, makes a good setting for terror-related stories. Timmy, my officemate, however, openly showed excitement.

My thoughts:
1. I am taking responsibility over these five people since I am taking them to Zamboanga. It's scary to think  of bad things that might happen to them there.
2. I hope their first visit to Zamboanga will be a memorable one. They spent five thousand pesos each for a round trip ticket! It better be good.
3. Will I make a good host?
4. Lord, hear my prayers.

This time, fare at AirPhil was cheaper than Cebu Pac
We touched down safely in Zamboanga. I was relieved. Two days prior, a small plane crashed leaving three of its four passengers missing; later on, the three were found dead.

When we finally alighted from the plane, I could see my guests smiling. They were admiring the airport and immediately took out their cameras for photos. "So far so good," was all I could say.

We left our stuff at my house in Zamboanga, which was going to be our base for the next three days, and headed to the port to catch a ferry to Basilan. I had to admit that I had mixed feeling about what we were doing. I have never gone to Basilan. There were attempts in the past when I was younger to go to Basilan, but my mom would not let me, citing the peace and order situation. At 28, I was taking my first trip to Basilan with five Manilenos, two of whom are light-skinned dudes aka 'potential kidnap victims.' 
For P40 one way, we had our taste of Basilan

Nearing the port, plenty of mangroves

Bienvenidos a Basilan!
We were welcomed by mangroves and houses on stilts as we made our way to the port of Isabela City, Basilan. The breeze, air and water indicated tranquility, foretelling of an interesting three-hour stay in Isabela.

First stop is the church, a Catholic Church, standing proudly in the heart of the city. Its mosaic art was admirable. A much needed prayer was said here.
Isabela Cathedral

Back to mainland Mindanao

After our lunch at the only Jollibee in Basilan, we ended our peaceful journey to Basilan. The trip taught me few things: a) ignorance will do you no good b) good company disperses all fears, and  c) Basilan is not bad at all; it holds a lot of promises.
Zamboanga's icons: Vintas
 The sea craft took only 45 minutes to get us back to Zamboanga, but we paid P150 this time for an airconditioned commute. There was plenty of time to do other stuff, so we were able to squeeze in a tour of the city center, the old fort and the seaside attraction, the Paseo del Mar.We enjoyed the cheap food and drinks capping our very full first day.

I am not to describe at length the things we did for day two. Let me just say that it was eventful and tiring but fun.

On our last day, however, we made a quick trip to Pasonanca Park and sampled some Muslim delicacies. The taste can actually deceive their appearance. Look below:


August 21, late afternoon, we were waiting for our flight back to Manila. Another work day is waiting for us the next day.

Newly-renovated Zamboanga Airport. The second level had food stalls for the the hungry passengers.

The plane to take us back to Manila

AirPhil flight attendant.
There. We arrived in Manila with all our limbs intact and a few thousands poorer. But I was happy to show them around. They expressed their appreciation. I hope they were able to see a different glimpse of Mindanao that was far from what they see on TV or read on papers. To help in the enlightenment or in the education of people in whatever way is something all of us must pursue. I don't mind doing it again, and besides, they were all fun tourists. We might just do something similar again, perhaps, in Tawi-tawi next time around.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planning (Zamboanga Trip)

NOTE: I started writing this post weeks days before our actual departure for Zamboanga.

June 30

I am planning for a trip to Mindanao with my friends from the DFA. The last time I did something similar was for my (former) co-teachers in 2007. With my teacher group of four, I was made the default tour planner because I was the most domestically traveled. hehe. The 2007 adventure started in Cebu, continued in Bohol and Dapitan and ended in Zamboanga. It was fun going through the tourist spots with friends, but going to previously visited places did not excite me anymore. I prefer going to new places, but, I tell myself that I was doing it more for them than for me. There was joy in sharing the beauty of the Philippines with others. This time for the DFA peeps, it's just going to be Zamboanga City as our destination, but I am looking forward to this. We are thinking of including Basilan since it's just a one-hour boat ride from Zamboanga. I have  not gone to Basilan, so it's going to be new to me. I don't look forward to it, however. There is the issue of security to think of. I shall wait for the my dad's advice on this.

The idea of having a new set of people joining me in a trip is exciting in itself. I will have to be overly hospitable, which is something, strangely enough,  I do with much effort. But I should do what I must.

August 7

 To get all my travelmates all psyched up for the trip, I sent them an email on August 7, 2012.

Dear friends,

I look forward to traveling with you to Zamboanga and Basilan and touring around the city which I have the pleasure of calling mi ciudad . It’s my honor to have a group of fine ladies and gents in my hometown. Speaking of my home, which will be your home for three days unless you decide to take a hotel or motel (as the case of Alan) instead, I also look forward to hosting you there. It’s a middle class home, so don’t expect a mansion. Hehe. I don’t worry much that you’d be overly picky since I think most, if not all, are ‘cowboy’ as we say it in Philippine English.  I trust that rich kid Jason will be just as  happy as a kid with a balloon. Hehe.

For our security, I suggest we don’t post anything announcing our trip on Facebook  or other social networking sites;  we’ll never know how a simple info might be put to our disadvantage. We could post pictures after we have arrived safely in Manila, however. To be truly safe in any travel, we must be cautious and listen to advisories. I usually listen to my father, he was a former intelligence guy with the Marines. If we don’t hear anything on our Basilan trip, I would surmise it’s a go; otherwise, let’s make do with the city. We have to ensure everyone’s safety. Ok lang ba ‘yon? 

On Thursday, I’ll be sending out an itinerary for your comments. I shall try to include everyone’s interests. Timmy would want to do some food tripping and touring, while Alan would like to acquire some indigenous textiles. Jason would want a biking trip (Jason, parang wala ata ganon pero will think of something). I reckon Andrei would be happy with a good coffee (May 3-in-1 sa bahay. Our coffee maker is broken. We could go to coffee shops pero walang Starbucks or anything similar doon). Candy is just happy to be in Mindanao. Period. Hehe.

In going around, we will be taking public transport most of the time. Note that there are no cabs in the city. Our beat-up aircon-less car is a sedan.  So if we ride in it, two small-bodied individuals take the passenger seat, and that leaves the bigger-bodied people like me to the backseat. Yes, Timmy, backseat tayo. You, too, Jason. Hehe.

There, feel free to ask anything.

I am really looking forward to having you there.

Warm regards,

After August 7

Two Thursdays came, and I was busy; thus, I was not able to send a proposed itinerary. I got home Thursday evening, August 16 and was met by news reports of a twin bombing incident in Zamboanga City. My initial concern was, "Will they still push through?"

The next day, I sent out our itinerary still.

August 17

0415       DEPART MANILA
0700       REST
1100       LUNCH
1200       TRANSIT TO PORT
       ISABELA CITY TOUR – Cost of Basilan Tour is approximately PhP 500/PAX            inclusive of fare, terminal fees, light snacks and security adventure
            1900       DINNER AT PASEO DEL MAR
                                Cost of Dinner is approximately PhP 120/ pax.
            2030       RETURN TO BASE
                0600       BREAKFAST
                0700       TRANSIT TO PIER FOR STA CRUZ ISLAND
                0730       DEPART FOR STA CRUZ ISLAND
                0800       ARRIVE AT STA CRUZ ISLAND
                1130       DEPART FOR ZAMBOANGA MAINLAND
                1200       ARRIVE AT ZAMBOANGA MAINLAND
                1230       LUNCH * ( DOWNTOWN )
                1600       TRANSIT TO LA VISTA DEL MAR
                1700       EARLY DINNER AT LA VISTA
                2000       BACK TO BASE

                0730       BREAKFAST
                0830       TRANSIT TO PASONANCA PARK
                0900       PASONANCA PARK
                                Outdoor Activity. Come in comfortable clothes and footwear.
                1130       TRANSIT TO LUNCH VENUE
                1200       LUNCH
                1300       LAST MINUTE SHOPPING AT BARTER CENTER
                1400       BACK TO BASE
                1630       TRANSIT TO AIRPORT
                1700       CHECK-IN AT ZAMBOANGA AIRPORT
                1850       DEPART ZAMBOANGA
                2030       ARRIVE IN MANILA

The response I got from my travelmates is still positive. No bomb explosions or security issues would stop us from going. We are all set to go.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


August 7, 2012 will go down in my history as the first whole-day work suspension in my government career. The rain has been pouring non-stop the past week. If forecasts are right, with emphases on 'if'  'forecast'  and 'right' since we are in the Philippines, we will be expecting less rain on Thursday, August 9.

In the meantime, I am trying to stay home although I have been itching to go out. I'm stuck at home, and it's for the best.

News feeds and status updates all say that the rain is not stopping anytime soon and that conditions outside are bad. Groups are coming out with relief drives for the victims.

My images are different from those that make the news sites and papers. There is nothing much to do; hence, this post.

Either way in Sucat is flooded

Men in umbrellas.

White dude about to swim in the pool.

College students having fun in the pool as classes are called off.

Another man in umbrella.

He still works despite the rain.

Some girl...

In fashion.

I wonder where she's going. It's none of my business, really.

I am stuck in my unit. These are shots from my window, nothing compared to what's happening in most part of Luzon. I pray conditions will be better tomorrow.