As a microcosm of the sad state of affairs in our country, there are few better examples than our own international airport. Whereas commercial aviation facilities in other countries are airy, gleaming cathedrals that evoke the soaring glamour of air travel, our Ninoy Aquino International Airport--especially the original terminal--is a dreary, traffic-choked and outdated testament to bad city planning.
Probably the best part about NAIA is leaving it and getting home as soon as possible. But we learned after a recent holiday trip that if you don’t have a sundo, finding a ride can be a hellish experience. As we wrote in a now viral Facebook post, scammers operators approached us with exorbitant fees for taxi rides going out of the airport. Not wanting to be party to highway robbery, we opted to just line up at a metered-taxi queue while inhaling some Metro Manila smog.
As of this writing, our post has garnered more than 76,000 reactions on Facebook, and was shared more than 40,000 times. In this age in which more people can travel, a lot of netizens shared our frustration. And it seems we finally got the attention of someone in power.
As you read this, Senator Sonny Angara has urged authorities to investigate the issue we experienced.
"There are a lot of dreadful stories circulating online about airport taxis notoriously overcharging and duping passengers--whether they are local tourists, overseas Filipino workers, or foreigners visiting our country," the lawmaker said in a statement. "Our transportation and airport authorities should look into this matter seriously and resolve this right away, or else Philippine tourism will suffer."
Angara is the vice chairman of the Senate tourism committee.
The Senator’s statement mentioned our Facebook post, in which we narrated how we had been quoted P1,800 for a ride from NAIA Terminal 2 to Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong. The tale of the American national we met during our ordeal was also recounted (he had been given an incredulously bloated fare of P3,200 from Terminal 2 to Makati).
The lawmaker plans to file a resolution to investigate the issue. He ended his statement in our national language, which captures the sentiment that’s on the minds of everyone save those in charge of NAIA: "Gaano man kaganda ang Pilipinas, hindi tayo dadayuhin ng mga turista kung sa airport pa lang ay nagagantso na sila. Bukod sa pagsasaayos ng pasilidad at imprastraktura ng ating paliparan, dapat ay siguruhin din natin na sila ay ligtas sa anumang uri ng pang-aabuso." ("No matter how beautiful the Philippines may be, we won’t be visited by tourists if they’re being swindled as soon as they land at the airport. Other than fixing the facilities and infrastructure of our airport, we should make sure that they [tourists] are safe from any form of abuse.")
We can’t speak for our 2.1 million Facebook followers, Senator, but if you can fix this airport taxi issue, you'll have our vote the next time you run for office.
Photo from Senator Sonny Angara’s Facebook page