2008: Year of Changes?

I’m currently hooked to Dan Brown’s books. During my December vacation I borrowed a book from a colleague and brought it with me in Bacolod. On my rest times I tried reading “The Da Vinci Code” – and under some sort of scrutiny from my pious mother. Answering, “it’s just a book” still somehow raised an eyebrow.

On our way back home to Dasma after the holidays, we rented an airport taxi service and that made me finish the book while inside the cozy Toyota Innova (it cost us only Php 1.3K. Very cheap compared to availing Park n Fly’s service). That was at least a week of reading it. Not bad considering the other yuletide activities I have to attend.

Now I borrowed another, “Angels & Demons” and I’m almost halfway since I started it just this Wednesday. Other than the conspiracy theories that seem to have captured my attention and that got me to ask a lot of questions regarding its possibility, one line in one of its pages made me reflect of what has been happening around us since then.

Olivetti looked the camerlengo dead in the eye. “The prayer of St. Francis, signore. Do you recall it?”

The young priest spoke the single line with pain in his voice “God, grant me strength to accept those things I cannot change.” – pp. 169.

This prayer made me pause and reflect on the changes I’ve seen and observed since last month. Some I might expand but others would remain as a one-liner for others who knew about it to explain.

Dec (3rd week). Our company’s shuttle bus provider for more than ten years was changed.

Dec 31. Just as the year ends come also the closure of our favorite restaurant – Saisaki ATC. No more sashimi. No more sukiyaki. I went back to the place on Jan 10 and to see it silent with doors locked and tables turned was a bit sad. I’m wondering where its crews have gone.

Jan. Video City, a video rental store near our place closed. Most likely it’s another victim of the proliferation of pirated cds. I’ve seen ACA video Dasma closed before during the peak of piracy and seeing a second one close is just disappointing.

Jan 18. Now the state of the old Bacolod airport is uncertain with the opening of Silay Airport.  I don’t know if Bacolod City’s officials are still considering retaining the old one or if they will totally phase it out. With the recent experience I had both during arrival and departure – mostly due to deceitful porters and taxi drivers – I couldn’t agree more if they pick the latter option. But then the innocent & honest employees’ jobs are at stake. Hopefully they’ll be re-assigned.

We are just starting the year and I hate to think about the things to come. I’m still trying to keep a positive attitude about what the future holds and whatever it will be, I’m hoping that we will be ready by then.

Que sera sera, as my mother used to say.

   

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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.