How to help a man stuck in NAIA?

In the 2004 movie The Terminal, Tom Hanks stars as an eastern immigrant who finds himself stranded in the JFK airport.


His country goes into revolution while he’s en route. Upon landing in New York, he finds himself without a country—or at least one that the US government can recognize. He is denied entry, but cannot be deported until his status is fixed.
Though he doesn’t speak English very well, he somehow adapts to his temporary residence in the airport.

Tom Hanks

The film was partially inspired by the 17-year-stay of Mehran Karimi Nasseri in the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Terminal I, Paris, France from 1988 to 2006.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri

If I were to get stuck in an airport, I would choose Hong Kong where I can eat tonkatsu


buy clothes at Zara or Giordano

Zara at Hong Kong airport

or hang out in the Cathay Pacific lounge, where there are decent restrooms and showers, and hopefully they won’t kick me out.


One of my goals this year is to visit Seoul as well as experience the number one airport in the world, Incheon.
Wouldn’t mind being stranded there.

Another one from Incheon airport. Somehow, I did not feel mall fatigue shopping here

Now imagine you are stuck in NAIA.
British citizen Gary Peter Austin, a 52-year-old former horse jockey from England, has been stuck in the departure lounge of NAIA Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport since December 17, 2012.
Austin told reporters he arrived in Manila from England via Bahrain on board Gulf Air last Nov 29, 2012, and went to Cebu for sightseeing and to meet his Filipino friends.
He returned to Manila last December 17, where he tried to check in at the NAIA Gulf Air counter for his return trip to England.


But airline staff said they cannot accommodate him, as his e-ticket was already cancelled by his travel agent.
Unfortunately Austin had run out of money, so he decided to stay at the terminal as he tries to figure out how he can raise money to fly back to England.
Without money to buy a return ticket to England, barred from leaving the airport, and virtually forgotten by the airline that flew him in, Austin will have to make do with terminal 1 as his temporary home.


Listen, the thought of being stuck in NAIA just makes me want to cry.
We want to pay for this man’s ticket to go home. But how to do it?
Can Edwin Llobrera/Rappler/Maria Ressa help us make a donation?

UPDATE: We have been in touch with Rappler’s Bea Cupin and Maria Ressa and have contacted Mr. Austin.
Let’s hope he catches his Emirates flight tomorrow PM.

Hello, it’s time to fix the airport!

Condé Nast Traveler just named Philippines one of the Top 2013 Holiday Destinations.
Isn’t it time to do something about NAIA, with its collapsing ceilings, hideous bathrooms, and disgusting food choices?
Sayang naman now that Travel & Leisure, Lonely Planet, and Condé Nast Traveler all say 2013 is our year!
Anobah, who is in charge of NAIA??

Condé Nast Traveller - CNTRAVELLER.COM

Destinations to watch in 2013

For travellers willing to go the extra thousand miles for a deserted beach, the Philippines has around 7,000 of the most heavenly islands in the world. It’s still not the most obvious beach-holiday destination, but it soon will be.

It’s becoming particularly popular among serious divers, who come for the incredible underwater life, unspoilt coral gardens with rainbow-bright fish, green sea turtles and dugongs. In Bicol you can swim with the biggest fish in the world, the whale shark. While fish-fans of a different nature can go deep-sea fishing in one of the deepest trenches in the oceans, not far from the little-known island of Siargao.

The archipelago of Palawan ticks all the boxes: palm-fringed white-powder beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, natural lagoons for wild swimming on Miniloc Island – all of it protected by UNESCO. Its Bacuit Bay is something like Halong Bay in Vietnam, only without all the tourists – for the time being, at least. There are just a handful of resorts, which are tasteful and deliberately low-key. Two of the newest are Ariara Island 

Ariara Island 0009
Ariara Island 0019

and El Nido Pangulasian Island, a private-island resort with palm-thatched villas, a spa, its own dive centre, and sea views to melt the heart.

pangulasian resort (used to be the biggest resort in El Nido)

Another super-stylish new opening is Dedon Island, on Siargao; it’s owned and designed by contemporary furniture brand Dedon.


And a perennial favourite is Amanpulo, yet another high-design private-island hotel on Pamalican Island.

Amanpulo - Casita Bedroom and Sundeck

Or sail around them all in style on Alila’s new boat, the Phinsi.

As the gateway to these private-island retreats, the Philippines capital of Manila is also having a moment. Among its new openings – another one in December 2012 – is the Fairmont Makati City.


Sorry, Maldives… We love you, but we’ve got a new flame.


How not to starve in NAIA

After last month’s siomai horror story in NAIA, I made a plan not to starve while waiting in the airport.
Jeroen and I had a 12:25 noon flight to Hong Kong. Which means we would have to leave the house at 10 AM.
Since I don’t eat breakfast and I don’t eat in the plane, I knew I should eat before boarding the plane.
We all know there are no decent food choices in NAIA, so I made a quick decision to sneak in Jollibee inside my bag.
I got the idea from a Japanese tourist, who my sister and I saw hand-carrying a bag of Max’s fried chicken in NAIA in 2011.

Drawing: Ana Zamora

We passed by a Jollibee drive-thru near the airport—so near there was no time left to eat it in the car.
So I snuck it in my bag. It passed through all the X-rays.
Thirty minutes later, I was sitting in a secluded corner of the Cathay Pacific first class lounge (less tao).


I transfered the contents to normal plates and threw out all evidence of Jollibee packaging.
Thank God nobody saw and nobody cared.


Unfortunately no regular Coke in the lounge, so I had to step out and buy one.
I found some young Korean tourists looking around in the pathetic siomai booth and felt sorry and embarrassed for them.
When oh when will NAIA have decent food?
P.S. This is not a sponsored post by Jollibee. Next time I will probably sneak in McDonald’s.

Ol’ Man River

I don’t usually cry at wakes. I don’t like dramatic scenes you see in Filipino movies.
I dunno, that’s just me. Sometimes I think the most painful things are so painful you can’t even cry. It’s like your tearducts are paralyzed. But at Father Reuter’s wake, I just cried.
Just a few days before Christmas, my gift for Father Reuter arrived from Amazon. My friend Biden told me they were looking for DVDs of John Wayne and Frank Sinatra.

For Father Reuter

I was planning to visit Father and make a donation for his healthcare. But the holidays were insane. Traffic everywhere, I was even scared to go to Makati. It turns out he was confined at Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Parañaque.
He died on the last day of 2012.
I found out when Jeroen came home from lunch. He had seen it on Twitter.
I showed him the DVDs and cried a little before shoving food mechanically in my mouth.
On January 2, Jeroen and I finally went to St. Paul’s University in Herran, Manila.
It was my first time there. It looks time-warped and charming, with hallways that look like dead people walk there at night.
Jeroen and I fell in like with a row of trees trimmed to form a shed

St. Paul University

We found this church in the middle of the campus.

St. Paul churchSt. Paul University

I loved the staircase

St. Paul University

which led to the wake

Fr. Reuter

Only a handful of mourners when we arrived mid-afternoon

Fr. Reuter
At Father Reuter's wake
Fr. Reuter's wake

And I cried as we approached the coffin and saw the pictures

Fr. Reuter

He actually looked good in the coffin, with the makeup and all. He looked so frail.
I first met him in 1984. He was the priest during our high school retreat in Assumption.
I remember him riding the tourist bus with us going to Baguio. I liked him on sight.
At that time he was already 70 years old, and I was worried he might not live long. Little did I know he had 26 years to go.
Our class spent three memorable days in Baguio. I listened carefully to his lectures. I made a confession and he hugged all of us.
The rest of the events, I keep in my heart.
It was my dream to get married with Fr. Reuter as the priest. I got my wish on November 25, 2000 when I married Jeroen at San Sebastian Church.
It just seemed right to be with Jeroen as we said goodbye to our beloved priest.

Fr. Reuter
Fr. Reuter
Fr. Reuter
Fr. Reuter meets the Pope

He didn’t please everybody. Father Reuter had his share of haters.
I consider myself his jeje buster. I get really emotional when I read bad things about him. I really believe he is a saint in heaven.
At the right moment, an old man walking with a cane began to sing “Ol’ Man River” from the 1927 musical Showboat and I just lost it.

Old Man River

I cried uncontrollably and until my eyes couldn’t see. I think Jeroen cried too.
I never cry at wakes.

Jeroen and I had a long chat with Sister Sarah Abraham, who was at his side when Father died.
I gave her the DVDs and a donation for the hospital that took care of him.

Sister Sarah and Jeroen

After the wake Jeroen and I kind of explored the old building.
I wondered where these stairs originally led to.

St. Paul church

I saw a most beautiful Lady of Lourdes downstairs

Our Lady

I saw the creepy uniform display through the years

St. Paul uniforms

You can’t pay me enough to sleep here at night

St. Paul Uniforms

Check out the famous alumni—how many can you ID?

Famous Paulinians

Jeroen and I left Herran and joined the horrendous traffic, ended up at Robinson’s Magnolia and shared a double burger at Pepper Lunch Express.
Overall a good day. Thank you Father Reuter. We are blessed to have known you.

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