Cebu Pacific: Where Every Juan Flies…Frustrated

Cebu Pacific Fail, Cebu Pacific Overcrowding, Cebu Pacific overbooking
Image grabbed from

Two days prior our vacation in Bacolod the national news about the situation at the airport got my full attention. Last December 25, the NAIA Terminal 3 was packed more than usual and some irate passengers were recorded hurling expletives at those manning Cebu Pacific’s check-in counters. The video footage shows absolute disorder and it appears that these people aren’t just the regular grinches but rather those with valid reasons to forget the Christmas spirit altogether. I would soon experience the same frustration.

Wanting to avoid falling victim to heavy traffic, Marcus and I left Batangas about six hours before our flight. Yes, six hours. We reached Park ‘N Fly earlier than expected despite a close call at SLEX Shell station when Marcus nearly choked himself out—no thanks to a Mentos mint that got me frantically recall how to execute a Heimlich maneuver—and slow traffic at Andrews Avenue due to an ongoing flyover project.  We got one problem down. Our shuttle bus dropped us off to the next.

NAIA terminal 3 was not as bad as reported but people being fixated to the check-in monitors like eager runners waiting for the starting gun to fire gave me some hint on what to expect.  Trying to remain optimistic, I observed and actually started to conclude that ours could be a better day. My assessment was wrong.

Our own Cebu Pacific experience happened after four hours of waiting patiently. Upon reaching Cebu Pacific’s check-in counter and a couple minutes of nervous finger tapping, I soon heard the attendant say the heartbreaking words: your flight is overbooked.

To compensate for the missed flight we were offered free overnight stay in a hotel and re-scheduled to fly the next day. Conceding to a day of vacation lost, I accepted our fate—especially upon seeing Marcus excited at the idea of being in hotel—and weaved our push cart in and out of the crowd to another check-in counter. This time we lined up to the hotel accommodation queue where we spent almost 45 minutes inching our way to the counter together with foreign tourists. Marcus and I were with disappointed Italian, American, and Korean passengers of Cebu Pacific.

After repeatedly answering Marcus’ questions about the hotel—“Is there a bath tub”, “What’s the size of the bed”, “Is there cable TV” among others—I found hope. The guy who said that our initial flight is overbooked got back to me and asked if I want to take the flight that will leave past 10 in the evening. I took the chance and got our boarding pass minutes later.

Two hours before our new flight we were already at the boarding gate 133 area. In between his Jetpack Joyride and Minecraft games, Marcus would take a glance at the digital clock and counted the minutes to go. Sadly, we were soon listening to the ’on-behalf-of-Cebu-Pacific-we-regret-to-inform-you’ spiel.  The advisory happened over and over. Flights to both Cebu and Bacolod got delayed several times that people around us started booing the equally helpless Cebu Pacific ground personnel. I didn’t participate—I was busy spoon-feeding Marcus the free Jollibee Chicken Joy meal and noodles that the airline provided.

The area was almost deserted when our plane finally arrived.  It was past one o’clock in the morning. The Krispy Kreme and Army Navy stores were already dark and when the time to board was announced the passengers lined up to the gate tired but happy to get out of the place. 16 hours after we left Batangas we arrived in Bacolod. (Come to think of it we could be ready for longer flights—like one going to the land of milk and honey.) I am now keeping my fingers crossed that we will have a better trip back to Manila tomorrow.


Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Sun is peeking out.)

The Towel

I was in Bacolod last weekend and after a good Sunday lunch I borrowed my mother’s minivan to drop my father off at Robinson’s mall—his favorite hangout—and then to proceed to a reunion with my old biking friends. As I was driving out of the gate, I saw my mother’s helper running towards the creeping beige Rusco van.

“Wait, wait, wait. Your mom wants you have this towel,” the helper said in vernacular as he reached the driver side. “Why?” I asked puzzled with the urgency. “Just take it, she insists.” So I absentmindedly took the towel and drove off to go about my tasks on that lazy high noon.

More than twelve kilometers later at an average speed of 60 kilometers per hour, I parked at Sta. Fe Resort and saw my face at the rearview mirror almost soaking with sweat. That was when I realized the purpose of the neatly folded towel which I have tossed at the backseat. Thanks, nanay. You still know best.


Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I still can’t believe I just paid PhP 7K for this blog to continue being online for the next 3 years.)

Are You Ready for the Kasambahay Law?

Just called to check on my mother and one of the things I made sure I mention is the newly approved law — Republic Act No. 10361 or popularly known as the Kasambahay Law. Since we left home years ago to live our own lives, our parents, specifically our mother, got people to help around. Our house also became the home of anyone whom my mother thought needs shelter while at the same time could extend hands in doing the daily chores. Whether they’re related to us by consanguinity or just perfect strangers, my mother accommodated them. It’s the trait Ithink I would never have as I have trust issues with maids — thanks but no thanks to the different news about househelpers who sooner or later turned out to be more of a liability to their masters or employers.

Employers, yes that’s the more appropriate word now that the Kasambahay bill became a law on January 18, 2013. While that technically eliminates the seemingly discriminating (or oppressive) master-servant term, this law which is, to quote its title, an act instituting policies for the protection and welfare of domestic workers, obligates the employers to give their househelpers minimum wage and social benefits provided under existing laws such as Philhealth, Social Security System (SSS), and Pag-Ibig fund. Admittedly, the law that I once perceived as just and humane, is now something I should be worried of due to several reasons which the other ’employers’ around the nation also share based on what I have heard from TV Patrol.

Firstly, all the social benefits would have to be paid regularly by the employer. And the fact that the government institutions wherein payments are to be made aren’t located in one place is a problem by itself. I can’t imagine my mother, now in her 60s, going from one place to another, not to mention endure long lines, just to remit the social benefits of her househelpers.

Next item to consider is the stipulation that the househelpers should be given basic education. Even though my mother has been good enough to offer this to one of her helpers ahead of the Kasambahay Law, this still leaves the question: what if everyone goes out to study? Doesn’t this defeat the very purpose why one got help because there’s a need to have someone in the house do the chores during most times of the day?

But not all aspect of this law are questionable. Things such as the need to have decent sleeping quarters and providing basic necessities are no-brainers and I can assure that whoever stays in my parents house will have these.

The implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Kasambahay Law is still not out so I guess I have to wait before I call my mother again to remind her that she follows it as the last thing I’d like to hear is that there’s a picket line outside our small house demanding for an increase in wage and benefits. Ti abi.


There was once a time when the maids demand just to have access to TV. Now, the WI-FI is starting to become a must have.


Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Wifey’s out. Just me and our master at home. Master, aka Marcus, still sleeping. I’m waiting for orders.)

Home Again

“Great things come in small packages” – anonymous

This afternoon I woke up from a long nap and being half awake half asleep, I strolled around the yard. Coming from a distance, I heard a familiar music playing that reminds me where I’m currently at.

The music was Life Dance followed by another which I’m quite sure I heard decades ago when both are still the in thing among the youngsters. I hate to admit it but I was one of the fans of these songs. My guilty pleasures, then and now. After catching myself pausing briefly to listen to the music which I know for a fact and based on experience, are all coming from a baylehan (dance/fiesta area) as we call it, I began to remember that prior to my mandatory siesta, we actually just had our son’s baptismal.

This event, thankfully, happened after one postponement due to a problem we encountered when we initially scheduled it in my wife’s place back in Batangas. This time, it was finally realized and despite bits of snags, upsets and confusions before and during the ceremony. Thirty minutes after the baptismal rites and photo ops, we ended at Imay’s restaurant where a simple yet fulfilling celebration with our closest family and neighbors took place.

I’m now still groggy and trying my best not to blame it either to the brandy I had nor the jet lag since we arrived yesterday lunch time. But deep inside I feel happy as after all the excitement from welcoming Marcus to the Christian world, I suddenly remember that also today is our father’s 75th and likewise my 35th birthday. Right now, I can’t think of a better way to be home again in Bacolod.

Baby window


Mood: 1/10 Honks!

2008: Year of Change?

I’m currently hooked on 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 would read The Da Vinci Code– while under some sort of scrutiny of my pious mother. On our way back home to Dasma after the holidays we rented an airport taxi service 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.)

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 wonder about its possibility, one line from the book got me to start thinking.

Olivetti looked at 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 made me pause and reflect on the changes I’ve observed since last month. I could relate to these lines with what has happened lately. Hint: employment.

December, third week. Our company’s shuttle bus provider for more than ten years was changed. For the better? Go figure.

December 31. Just as the year ends also comes 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 sad sight. Where have  its crews gone?

January. Video City, a video rental store near our place closed. Most likely another victim of the proliferation of pirated CDs. ACA Video Dasma branch closed during the peak of piracy and seeing a second one caving in is depressing.

January 18. 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 would 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 jobs of the innocent and honest employees 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 would be ready by then. Que sera sera, as my mother used to say.


Masskara: Interesting New Things (Part 2 of 2)


“So many beers, So little time.” – Me

Kari sa Bacolod, dala maskara.” — Masskara Festival

I never thought that coming back to Bacolod during the Masskara festival would bring such a new experience even for me. Regardless of our 3-day stay, the vacation was not only fun but educational as well. Sounds like something from Knowledge TV? Well, sort of. This trip made me learn new things.

A local song for the street dance? I don’t know if it’s just plain LSS or if it was forced deeper in my ear canals by the giant speakers located all over the Bacolod City plaza. But this year’s music I realized is Ilonggo but in modern version. It was all foreign festive or pop songs in past. I don’t know the origin of this local song but I know that we used to sing it way back in my elementary days: ”may ga-labaylabay na aso, utot ni Celso (A smoke passed by, it was Celso’s gas).” Don’t worry, that’s our wrecked lyrics. The original one is decent. Celso was a  classmate.


Masskara is pronounced as MASSkara rather than massKARA. I must have been too focused in getting drunk when I was in college that I failed to learn about this simple fact. I even never knew that it was only 28 years ago when the first Masskara festival was celebrated which dawned on me that I may have indeed attended the 1st street parade. I still recall which street I was watching it and what mask my parents bought for me. I was a smiling devil then. Ti abi, a Christian in a devil’s mask.

The Club category street parade had several participants with its members on scooters. Gone are the days when BMX and mountain bikes can be seen parading and performing–or did we miss it? I like what it used to be as the sight of motorized vehicles dominating the parade is not only noisy but polluting as well.


Bacolod now has its own SM mall. At last. Just barely a year old and built in the reclamation area, it is now home not only to mall goers but of course a job source for almost 6,000 Bacolod employees. This is only one of several new companies (another famous one is Teletech, a BPO company) that have started doing business there. Hopefully other manufacturing corporations get enticed as well. I might consider working there when that happens.

Lastly, and the most significant I’d say, I can now enjoy a shower at home without having to fetch water. For so many years the shower head in our bathroom serves as a mere decoration. We take a bath using kabo. Since we transferred sometime in 1980, on good days I’ll be pumping water from our well, on bad days I would have to fetch a couple of blocks from home. And the water fetching happens daily. No ifs or buts. This routine went on even until my last year at home before I worked in Manila. So before we left home for our trip back to Cavite, I enjoyed my shower just like those in soap commercials. Sorry Greenpeace, I cherished the moment.

So now, although I’m back working, back to reality, I’m now looking forward to being in Bacolod again for the Christmas season. I’m just hoping that next time my online reservations will be better, weather will be great, more polite taxi drivers, fewer litterbugs and that Cebu Pacific’s baggage receiving area will at least have a conveyor belt–automated or not. Ti abi.


Masskara: Against All Odds (Part I)

Masskara 2007, street dance

After 13 years of hiatus from celebrating my home city’s festival, I got the opportunity to be in one again. This time I’m married. So just this Wednesday, my wife and I finally made our planned celebration trip come true against all odds.

This year we made several online 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 picked the option of claiming the 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 somewhere in Malaysia. I learned my lessons.

Yet the excitement of buying online seems to have gotten the best of me twice in a row. It happened again when she saw a very good deal from Cebu Pacific in February. It’s an opportunity to pay only Php 1 ($45, tax not included) for a one-way plane ticket. So off we go again with the power of the mighty mouse. After several scrolls and double clicks, we grabbed a very good deal. Or so we thought.

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 departure details:

                  Oct 18 2007 Bacolod

                  Oct 21 2007 Manila

Finding it hard to believe the reality and severity of the situation I re-opened the email notice from the airline and there it was. I made a mistake with the transaction again: Right departure date, wrong place. It’s 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 Php 5000 which is like almost paying the regular fare.

Perfect shirt at this moment.

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 until Park ‘N Fly. This one just required some change in mindset and some packing techniques–traveling light. But it could have been the cause of my lower back to ache while on the bus.

We finally arrived in Bacolod by lunch time after a smooth flight but with me having an awful lower back pain. So part of the itinerary that afternoon was to look for a manughilot. Luckily, we found one. It’s funny but the last thing on my mind during this vacation is to be massaged on a busy side walk somewhere in Bacolod.

A massage somewhere along the streets in Bacolod.