Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tagbilaran Airport

It is the main airport of Bohol, located about 5 minutes from the city proper.   Flights are either coming from Manila or Cebu City. The Manila to Tagbilaran flights take about an hour and 15 minutes, while those coming from Cebu are much shorter. The airport is strictly domestic. It is small with a 1.8 kilometer runway and a single terminal.

There have been talks to build a much larger international airport in Panglao Island.  If approved and actualized, bigger and more aircrafts will be able to make use of this new airport; Bohol will then become more accessible to more tourists, boosting the local economy to greater heights.

But President Aquino appears to favor the expansion of the existing Tagbilaran airport, instead of building a new one on Panglao.  “Tagbilaran is already a 1.8-kilometer runway. To service the aircraft of regional carriers, it will need 2.5 kilometers. So the expansion of Tagbilaran will just necessitate only 700 meters as opposed to building a 2.5-kilometer runway in Panglao,” Mr. Aquino argued.

The president is also cognizant of serious concerns by environmentalists, such as the ability of Panglao Island’s limestone subsoil to withstand the load and stress of an international airport.  And although there are studies that show it could, Mr. Aquino is irresolute, for the most part, due to the billions of pesos that such project requires. “The Tagbilaran airport has long been there. It has no such issues,” Mr. Aquino said.

Speaking of airports, herewith a missive from a reader/contributor about his exasperating experience at NAIA1 last December, which he would like to share with us:

No Fun in PH NAIA1 Arrivals
By Roberto M. Bernardo, mid-January 2012

      You decide later on this report’s general bearing on our tourism brand’s “More Fun in PH”, but, more specifically here I want to ask: What brighter plan would you have cooked up in order to avoid my usual NAIA1 nightmare-problem below.  I was to arrive there from a welcomingly well-managed S.F. International on December 8, 2011 at 10:25 P.M. To prepare for it, I vowed to myself: “No more being stressfully stranded there for hours glued to my allowed boxes and bags of luggage.”

      Media had reported on various improvements in the micro-managements of the notorious airport’s toilets, visa & baggage processing, etc. in the campaign to improve the country’s image abroad. I can confirm those welcome changes from my most recent arrival from S.F. Yet, even as I noted them, I still doubted that its most dreaded nightmare-problem for most of us non-V.I.P arrivals would be identified and urgently addressed by the authorities. Therefore, many days before, I worked on the final surefire solution to my NAIA1 arrival fears, for testing on the night of December 8, 2011.

      I feared being forced to wait for hours amidst the usual chaotic crowds of arrivals, greeters, porters, airport security, other staff, potential snatchers. For, after emerging out of the airport building we would soon all be jammed jostling into each other plus a lot more people after herding into the two downward-sloping widely separated tunnels and coming out of them. Chaos would greet us and our heavy boxes of baggage on carts at the narrow ground-level sidewalk that connected their two exits. In past arrivals over the decades I’d been stranded for hours worried about my heavy boxes of baggage and big hand-carry while trying to locate my greeters. This added to the stress, for, signs in many public places of the country did warn, Don’t Leave Your Valuables Unattended.

      Via Internet I instructed my Makati team of greeters consisting of wife, secretary and car driver to look for me this time at only one place, not all over the waiting areas. Moreover, I would no longer look for them and endanger my things in all that overcrowded chaos but stay glued to them and my fixed spot. In past arrivals I would wait until the crowds and very heavy street-level traffic had thinned out. Then I could more readily recognize my greeters fenced off far across the street in the poorly and even perversely lighted areas from their backs and overhead and making their faces unrecognizable. When the crowds and traffic thinned out hours later I’d see and call them, and vice-versa. I remember from a mid-1970s arrival long ago how I got stressfully stranded there, and fuming and cursing the country for nearly four hours!

       I instructed: “Don’t look for me anymore at the tunnel exit area to my left at some distance from the right exit. Stick to the right exit-area. Don’t go driving around and around hoping to see me in all that heavy traffic and swarm. Park the car in the pay-lot adjoining the greeters’ fenced off areas. Just look for me at that one fixed area of the right tunnel exit I’ll come from. You can walk through the corridor from the parking lot and greeters areas to me eventually by telling strict door-guards that you are fetching a just-arrived senior citizen.”  

      Readers, there stood I stressfully stranded for nearly two hours that funless night. “What took you guys so long?,” I fumed in frustration.  They chorused about getting entangled in very heavy traffic near the approach to the airport. More of the same kind of heavy traffic awaited them on entry into the poorly lighted over-crowded parking lot freshly pot-holed from the rains. More waiting they suffered for a slot to free up. The security guards were stricter than usual in keeping greeters away from crossing the heavily trafficked ground-level street to look for and help their long-awaited ones.

      If I might say this: I’ve published online this year, printable from, a book on our top hero’s supposed Catholicism & Nationalist Faith; so I felt bright enough to finally solve my NAIA1 arrival fears. How would you have more brightly planned it for yourself? Separately later, think: doesn’t all this add a question mark to “More Fun in PH [?]”.

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Related Links:

It's a go for 'More Fun in the Philippines' campaign

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