Caramoan Weekend

I had the privilege of visiting some of the Philippines’ not so popular yet so beautiful places to visit last weekend. Together with my friend Jasper, we took the Caramoan trip scheduled for April 4-6 of TravelFactor and off we go. It’s a 3 day beach bumming experience – something that I never had for quite some time. The last beach that I went to was last year with my college blockmates but I wasn’t able to join them this year since I was out of the country then.

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What I liked about this travel is that I don’t have to go that far to go to the meeting place. Our office building is just a few blocks away from the meeting place and coming from work to travel won’t be that of a hassle. We left Manila a bit late Friday evening and the horrendous traffic ruined our supposed Day 1 itinerary. Instead of doing nothing, our Day 2 itinerary was moved to Day 1 and so as not to waste time we toured around Caramoan town proper. We had some sort of photoshoot of the nearby structures and fortunately was able to see a Church. We capped the night with a hearty seafood dinner consisting of squid, fish, and other seafoods mixed with beans.

Continue reading “Caramoan Weekend”

MRT-LRT Loop Connection

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GMANews.TV reported yesterday a not-so-good news but some of the contents are something to look forward. In their article, they mentioned the following:

The construction of the MRT extension from North Avenue in Quezon City to Monumento started in October.

The MRT-LRT loop project would cover at least five stations and span 5.71 kilometers. It is expected to be completed and operational by May 2010.

The project aims to put up new stations in Balintawak, Roosevelt/Muñoz while the North Avenue Station of the MRT and the Monumento Grand Central station of the LRT 1 would be improved.

I think this project is long overdue and finally it would be good headstart but hope that this project won’t be another propaganda to be used since May 2010, the project’s expected rollout, is the schedule of the next presidential elections in the Philippines. This project is really something to look forward since traveling using MRT and LRT proves to be a bad experience especially during rush hours. Add to that the discourteous riders who doesn’t know how to let alighting passengers go first and the constant reminder not to step in the yellow tiled platform (do I need to mention that the Filipino reminder is being announced first before the English reminder?). If this project would be successful, it will help decongest the North Avenue station (and moreso the traffic going towards that station during mornings) and the proponents would consider increasing the frequency of the trains especially on rush hours.

Although I expect this won’t be at par with the existing LRT/MRT stations that I’ve been to in other countries (at the least in terms of efficiency of transfera and ticketing service in Singapore and in Hong Kong), this is still better than none. Furthermore, they should scrap the segregated seating scheme as it doesn’t promote equality but more of a sexist approach to a problem that could have been answered by simply implementing an efficient implementation of security in stations. Isn’t that we pay for the same fare and yet certain individuals enjoy some privileges at the expense of others?

Reunited

Perhaps I am lucky, or maybe my officemate was just right on what to do with my issue with Cebu Pacific. My previous entry tells about the wait that I have to endure for Cebu Pacific to make some action with my concern. To give a refresh, I went to Hong Kong last September 27 and I wasn’t able to claim my tripod outright when I arrived there. Upon my return, I filed a loss report of my tripod and the supervisor then assured me that they’ll contact me once they get news of my tripod. I thought it would be an exercise in futile, I filed a second “complaint” via their customer feedback form in their site last October 3 and as the confirmation message tells, I need to give them seven (7) days to wait for their feedback.

Seven days from the day I submitted this second complaint (10 October 2008) I heard nothing from Cebu Pacific and I didn’t bother to make a follow-up via their call center since I don’t have enough time to wait endlessly for someone to talk to me sensibly with regards to my complaint.  When I was cleaning up my phonebook with messages, I noticed that I received an SMS from Cebu Pacific last 13 October 2008  informing that my tripod was already available for claiming. Typically, I just open messages from senders that’s not in my phonebook list but not thoroughly reading it and given what was written in that text message, I immediately called the number and they told me that I should just go to the arrival area of Terminal 3 and claim my tripod there.

Last Thursday, 16 October 2008, I went to Terminal 3 to claim my tripod and to my dismay, I got the tripod but it is “broken”. Broken in the sense that the upper part of the tripod was detached to the main tripod body which shouldn’t be the case. I was quite alarmed since in the first place, I ensure that whenever I travel, the tripod should have the “FRAGILE” mark but this sticker was missing when I claimed the item. Morever, a part of the tripod case was torn and it puzzles me if this is the way Cebu Pacific handle fragile items. If this is the case, then I think for Cebu Pacific to further save on operating costs, they shouldn’t be producing anymore fragile stickers if they treat fragile items similar to regular checked-in items. Isn’t it the reason why the tripod was gate-intercepted was to not pass through the conveyor because it is FRAGILE? If you would see the image above, the tripod was flown from Hong Kong to Manila last 13 October 2008, the same day that Cebu Pacific reported the missing item to me that it is now available for claiming. Aside from the missing sticker, there’s no indication on the tripod on what day it arrived in Hong Kong.

I went home to video the unpacking process of the tripod and the extent of the damage, aside from the torn case and detached tripod head were the rusty tripod screw (the one that connects the tripod to the camera) and the dusty tripod head. I asked the attendants at the arrival area of Cebu Pacific on what was the reason why the tripod didn’t arrive with me and after I told them the process of how it got “lost”, they simply mentioned, “sir, baka hindi naisakay” – the same exact reason I was thinking. Investigating further I saw in the site of Cebu Pacific on the “Baggage Section” the following:

8.4 Checked Baggage
Upon your delivery to us of any Baggage to be checked and provided that, for security reasons, you acknowledge to us that you personally packed the Baggage and know the contents thereof, we shall accept the same and issue a Baggage Tag for each piece of Checked Baggage. Checked Baggage must have your name or other personal identification affixed securely to it. Checked Baggage will be carried on the same aircraft as you unless we decide for safety, security or operational reasons to carry it on another flight. If your Checked Baggage is carried on a subsequent flight we will deliver the same to you within a reasonable time from the arrival of that flight unless applicable law requires you to be present for Customs clearance. (emphasis mine – superpatrick)

Safe to say that the tripod was indeed sent to Hong Kong but not on the same flight that I took going there. Since we went to Macau on our first day, most probably the tripod may have reached Baggage Enquiry counter 1 in Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) but no one would be able to claim it since it is logical to think that passengers will assume that their baggages/items came with them on the same flight that they took. Perhaps the manifestation of the provision mentioned above was the one experienced by the sister of my neighbor who now works in Singapore. HKIA was even generous enough to provide feedback regarding concern on the tripod even if it’s not their responsibility. They have responded twice to my concern and I am  thankful for their concern.

Now I got my tripod, I was able to repair it and now it performs back to “normal”. I haven’t tested my tripod fully but right now, I am thankful that I’m a bit “lucky” in terms of getting back what I need from Cebu Pacific. A lot of horror stories about Cebu Pacific are circulating around the internet and I hope Cebu Pacific, despite being a budget airline, is not giving deaf ear and blind eyes to the issues that surround their business.

If budget permits, I’ll fly next time with PAL (if only my pocket allows me to).

Still Waiting

Thanks for the concern that you guys have given to me with regards to my issue with Cebu Pacific. Hong Kong International Airport Customer Relations has answered my query and their answer is found in the image below (for transparency purposes).

In short, HKIA tells me that all baggages are of the airline’s responsibility and they have no control over it. I already filed a separate feedback/complaint to them and to be fair with them, I’ll give them 10 business days to act on it. That time I think is enough for them to contact me for any updates on whatever thing/things they are doing or following up regarding my concern. Inasmuch as I want to be a reactionary person on what happened to my tripod, I am giving them due time to process my complaint. After all, it is not my fault why the tripod was lost and perhaps their possible shitty explanation of not getting a travel insurance is a big no-no for me for their incompetence.

Just to give everyone a view of the tag of the tripod I used to have that Cebu Pacific “lost” while in their custody.

And I am still waiting for the reply. It’s been 2 business days passed since I first lodged a complaint to them and still no lead or feedback yet.

Cebu Pacific Cheap? Not!

Cebu Pacific just had a two day sale consisting of 0 fare for all its domestic destinations. I tried searching for a slot going back to Cagayan De Oro for some family engagements anew however, I ran out of slots – SOLD OUT as they claim to be.

Curiosity striked me and I tried looking for an airfare for the same period, for the same destination at different airlines – Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines (PAL). At first impression, you might think that PAL is more expensive than Cebu Pacific. But my own investigation tells otherwise.

This is the computation of Cebu Pacific:

And this is the computation of PAL

With a mere difference of Php 1.32 (which for me is negligible), PAL wins this time. Next time I’m going out of the country, I’ll make sure I’ll consider flying with PAL. Sans the free in-flight food, flying with PAL is a totally better experience than Cebu Pacific.

NAIA Terminal 3 Impressions

I went on a week-long vacation in the home province of my father where I had the chance of experiencing first-hand the newly opened airport in Manila dubbed as NAIA Terminal 3 or “T3” for short. Marred by a lot of legal controversies and issues they have finally opened last July and with Cebu Pacific starting last August 1.

Fortunately, our flight was late August and that means that we’re getting T3 as airport. Aside from the large facility, non-passengers can get in the airport only up before to the check-in area. There’s some sort of small area for well-wishing prior departure of passengers. In the old domestic terminal, you have to check-in only in the counter where your destination is indicated (e.g. if you are going to Palawan, you can check-in only in the counter stated as Palawan or Puerto Princesa). In T3, as long as you are flying Cebu Pacific, you can check-in in any counter and there you go. We were Mindanao bound but we checked-in in the Puerto Princesa counter.

Terminal fee stays the same, 200 bucks though I would say that the 200 is better felt here than in the old domestic airport. After paying the terminal fee, we went off to our pre-departure area. It is a looong walk although there’s some sort of walkator in the area. The view from the area shows the departing/arriving passengers. One good thing to notice is the terminal is cold (well it should be as it is new) though the place is so dull. When we are about to board the plane, I am quite excited trying the tube (the “bridge” that connects the terminal to the plane) but was quite disappointed since you have to go down the tarmac and climb the stairs to the plane – quite primitive but it’s okay.

On our return flight to Manila, the way to go from the plane to the terminal is still the same though we exited on another door for the arrival area. Good thing there’s a comfort room (I suppose) on each exit gate so you can satisfy nature’s calling. It was a long walk from the gate from where we exited to the carousel getting our checked-in baggages. As I would say, the place resembles Changi Airport Terminal 2 when I went there last 2006. The form of the immigration counters are the same and even the escalator downwards going to the claiming of baggages. The lobby is large again upon exit and it is definitely bigger than Terminal 2.

Of course, things are better appreciated through pictures. You can view them here.

POSTSCRIPT: I just noticed in our airport of departure for Manila that starting 2 September 2008, Cebu Pacific’s free baggage allowance would be 15kgs down from 20kgs. Bad news for backpackers. 😦

Where I Was Last Weekend

Like what I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I was in Subic last weekend of another ASP.NET talk. The talk went well only that it was after my talk I was reminded that I spoke for an hour and a half. No wonder I got carried away with my talk knowing that the venue is really a good place to talk. Even if my laptop malfunctioned before my talk (function key isn’t working until I brutally force it to work), the audience were delighted with the topic I presented.

All in all, we have 67 persons in attendance and at least 30 of them were students (though I think they comprise majority of the audience).

After spending 2 consecutive weekends out of Manila, I will be having a rest this week but hopefully can get around after. You can read the organization’s write-up here. I just realized, I should learn how to smile again in front of the camera. 😛