MNL Terminal 3 and Election Day at the Philippines

I’ve arrived last Saturday in Manila; arrival was at terminal 1. This terminal is particularly old and really pales in comparison to other regions. My parents had to wait outside for me and so they had to endure the heat. I do hope that in terminal 3 people don’t have to wait outside for travelers. Terminal 3 is the “new” Manila International airport which currently is only occupied by one two local airlines. The terminal was ready for use a few years ago but was mothballed because of diverse corruption allegations. One of the structures of the airport has already collapsed before even a first time used. The airport finally opened at the beginning of the year, and I am hoping that they will allow International carriers to arrive there.  I’ll write more about this airport  because today I have a flight with Cebu Pacific(local carrier based in terminal 3) to Seoul, South Korea
Speaking of corruption,  well politics comes in mind and today is the Philippines’ big day for elections. We are electing not only the president but also senators, congressman, mayors, councilors… whew!! the list is long! Today is public holiday,everythings is supposed to be closed….  well they couldn’t prevent the malls from opening  at 12. You can prohibit anything in the Philippines but don’t touch the Malls! You know there is something sacred with people’s relationship with the malls when 3 of the 10 largest malls are found in the country.
I am surprised that there isn’t so much posters around the walls of the country, ordinarily the posters are omnipresent that it actually takes months to take them off! Election period is also a time when money flows like there is no tomorrow. I imagine are money supply tripling in this short period. It is not uncommon to hear from people that in so and so area votes have been for 2000 PHP(around 40 USD) . That is a considerable amount of money especially if you live in the country side. Now you see candidates spending such amount for votes, imagine if they get elected… how eager would they be to recoup up their “investments”.
I am hoping that this election period will not be marred by so many killings.
I’ll need to now… I’ve been monopolising this chair at starbucks for so long!

Destination Philippines Part 1

I depart for Manila tomorrow morning. These past few days there has still been Northern European airports closed due to the volcanic ashes, and since I’m passing by Amsterdam, I have to admit I have a little bit of worry that it would affect me.

I’m flying with KLM, which as of now is the only company that flies from Europe to Manila without any stopovers. Lufthansa, Swissair and Philippines Airlines(To name a few), the airline crisis of the past decade did not spare Manila. Luckily, KLM offers competitive prices in general( and don’t you love Schiphol airport?). I got my ticket for 1000 USD which I believe is a reasonable amount.
May is part of the dry season in Manila, along with April they are the two months of School vacation for summer and so if you go to the Philippines in this period you’ll see a lot of local travelers. One could say that the period from December to May is the best for travel in the country as it is dry season. But March is probably the best of the lot because it comes before  heat and humidity goes off the charts — there is a reason  why school vacation is April!
I will stay at  Malate, Manila as I have some arrangements there,  and if you ask me I think it’s a good base for a stay in Manila. There are a lot of cheap accommodations around and almost all of the cities historic attractions are around that area. Here is my plan for this visit of Manila:
    • Check out the restaurants of Malate, Nakpil street(I have heard accounts of good restaurants moving out of the area to sanitized places like Greenhills in Makati… but I am wishful thinking here)
    • Try out the Malate night life
    • Visit Binondo(chinatown), try out some Chinese food there , have a feel of the neighborhood
    • Check out Quiapo and Binondo in search of the soul of Manila before and a few decades after world war two.
I will not be staying for a long time, thus the short list. Those who will visit Manila for the first time should really check out the following:
    • Intramuros: The walled city of Manila. the place could give you a feel for what Manila was like during the Spanish colonial period.
    • In Intramuros you can find the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin church(Unesco Heritage site under the classification of “Baroque Churches of the Philippines”). Churches in the Philippines are made differently from their counterparts in Europe. For one, Filipinos  had to make them Earthquake resistant
    • Have a stroll at Manila bay, and enjoy its lovely Sunset
    • Checkout the Makati nightlife
I still have to pack, so I’ll have to cut this short. But let me tell you about Boracay, an island down South  which has incredible beaches. I’ve never seen sand as white as could can find there. At midday, walk barefoot on the sand and you’ll feel that the sand is not burning hot. The sand is so white the sun light’s that its deflection is great enough to make you feel comfy on the sand.
Getting there is straightforward, Seair offers direct flight to Caticlan which is just across Boracay island. A small tricycle to the Caticlan’s port and there you take a boat which bring you to Boracay in a couple of minutes. From there take another tricyle and ask the driver to bring you to your destination(Ok…ok, this may look a bit complicated but I twas happy to have done it…. You could always ask your hotel to pick you up at Caticlan airport 🙂 ).
    • Boat Station 1: Highly priced hotels, more secluded beac
    • Boat Station 2: More like the center of the island Good for nightlife but the beach will have lots of people.
    • Boat station 3: A good place for cheap accomodation
I’ll be updating the site as I travel but let me insert another pic here from my one and only visit of Boracay:
Useful Links: : Anton has got some excellent insider tips about Manila : A Manila city guide… what’s on in Manila.
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