Masskara: Against All Odds…Part I

After 13 years of hiatus from celebrating my home city’s festival, I was back at last. This time I’m married. So just this Wednesday, my wife and I finally made our planned celebration trip come true against all odds. Well those odds aren’t what would compete with Phil Collin’s song but odds nonetheless.

This year I, or shall I include my wife, made a couple of on-line transaction blunders. The first one was when we bought the ticket for our F1 Sepang trip. I was so eager then to save on the tickets’ shipping charges that I smartly chose getting the said tickets at the race circuit only to find out that the distribution is a month prior to the race. If only that’s a bus away would have made sense but then it’s not. I should have learned my lessons then.

But the combination of excitement, carelessness and laziness of doing the buying on-line seems to have got the best of me twice in a row. It happened when my wife saw a very good deal from Cebu Pacific in February. I really can’t imagine anyone passing the opportunity of paying P1 ($45, tax not included) for a one-way plane ticket. So off we go again with the power of the mighty mouse (and keyboard, of course) – with several scrolls & double clicks, we grabbed a very good deal. Or so we thought.

So a month and a half before the October event, I filed for a scheduled vacation leave and was proudly telling my colleagues about the cheap trip we’re about to have.

I was excitedly reading my e-ticket print-outs when I noticed the place of departure:

Oct 18 2007 Bacolod
Oct 21 2007 Manila

I can’t seem to have grasped the reality (and severity) of the situation so I re-opened the email notice from the airline and there it was, sad but true, I (or we) made a mistake with the transaction again: Right departure date, wrong place. Even Houdini couldn’t have corrected that.

It was the costliest mistake I did this year, so far. The Sepang transaction was discovered a couple of minutes after confirmation so at least I just spent a couple of long distance calls and a good ticket agent was able to change the ticket details. This last one cost us P5000, almost just like paying the regular fare.

Odds number two is not having a car on the day of our departure. No big deal really but just a bit uncomfortable as we’ve gotten used to driving it until Park and Fly, to and fro. This one just required some change in mind set and some packing techniques – traveling light in short. But it could have caused my lower back to ache though while on the bus.

We finally arrived in Bacolod by lunch time after a smooth flight, but me having an awful aching lower back. So part of the itinerary that afternoon was to look for a manughilot or masseuse – this word reminds me of high school. Pls. don’t ask why. And so we did. It’s funny but the last thing on my mind on this vacation was being massaged on a side walk but it did the job anyway, somehow.

To be continued…

Home in Bacolod on the 25th…(and some of the Booboo’s)

After spending our Christmas Eve in Batangas with my wife’s family, we woke up by 4am the next morning and had to go straight to Park and Fly to leave our car while we are in Bacolod. From there we were whisked to the Manila Domestic Airport through their shuttle service.

We were on queue earlier than our 2-hour check-in time. Even then, the lines of travelers going to different destinations were already jam packed. Some lines even crisscrossed each other to the frustration of most people including myself. One of the noticeable things is the number of foreign visitors (British, Americans, and other Asians) going to places such as Kalibo, Cebu and Palawan. When I checked there’s no one in Bacolod’s queue. I’m wondering why.

The 845am flight was delayed for more than an hour. If not for the Delifrance’s Christmas Ham Clubhouse sandwich (surprisingly, it’s one of the best sandwich I had tasted) that I was eating for breakfast, I would have been grouchy as I always am given the situation.

Boarding time came. To my wife’s dismay we had to walk from the departure area to our designated plane. It used to be a short one. Now it’s some 300 meters walk and longer exposure (this is what she actually hates) to the glaring morning sun as the plane themselves (also to other domestic places) were also on parallel queue. One can just imagine how many people are traveling even on this Christmas day.

Except for being not on the window seat, the flight was smooth as usual. The on board “bring me” games was held just like every Cebu Pacific flight. This time though my wife was too tired to actively participate. The addition of tokens and corporate items for sale (nice gifts for those you realized you forgot), made it even more interesting. And of course, the beautiful flight stewardesses are still there.

Landing wasn’t bad either. I was at this point thinking that we can leave the airport in a jiffy after alighting from the plane. But that just isn’t going to happen. The “new and improved” arrival area and baggage claim answered (just maybe one of the reasons why) the question why we haven’t got any foreigners on board. In these times of high-tech, innovative and “whatever-you-call-it” technology, one would be shocked to see how the bags are handled. After manually unloading the bags from the cart, these were just either dragged or tossed on a metal barricaded floor where you can easily claim it if you’re lucky to get the attention of porters handling it. Damn, I should stop watching the Discovery channel.

After some frustrating time, I was able to claim our bags. These is one of the times I’ll recite in my mind “Good things come those who wait” as a mantra.

As it has been our practice to avoid the taxis right outside the airport terminal as they would normally overcharge, we walked out of the airport vicinity to flag down an empty taxi just along the road. Unfortunately, two consecutive cabs I got were Grinches (or they could have thought of me just the same). I find it so shameful when I am being swindled by someone who’s a kababayan (town-mate for this matter) just because I got bags (obviously coming from the airport). I can just imagine if it were especially Caucasians. It’s now reason # 2 why the foreigners aren’t queuing for Bacolod?

I gave up hailing a cab right in front of the airport. We decided to board a jeepney instead that would take us to downtown. Along the way though I couldn’t help but notice the scattered garbage, uncut grasses in the city plaza & the stagnant sidewalk canals. This is not the Bacolod I used to know for years. What an un-welcoming sight. Reason # 3.

From downtown, we were lucky enough to get an honest taxi driver as I’ve observed that there were only a few of them (pun intended) on duty on this Christmas day as the streets are somewhat empty than usual. Well, at least my resolution (for some years already) of not generalizing anything or anyone will still work. At least just SOME of them are bad. NOT ALL.

Eventually, we got home. My tatay and nanay were there with some of my siblings. It was almost 11am. And as expected a good lunch of seafoods were served. Tatay cooked sweet and sour fish, tanigue kinilaw (both which are his specialty) and with some fruits for dessert. It was another hearty lunch.

Thankfully we are home. Home sweet Home. And it’s still Christmas day.