Starweek Magazine

My neighbor’s tale

SINGKIT - Notes from the editor - The Philippine Star

STARweek and the Sports section are, literally, magkapitbahay, separated only by a low partition, which is conducive to chismis ober da bakod and sharing merienda. That doesn’t stop my neighbor the Sports editor from occasionally sending a text – usually a joke, or an attempt at one – or firing off an email – usually his musings on a significant event, sports-related like Jason Day’s recent major victory, or his take on life’s little surprises.

Such was what I found in my email, among others fulminating on the horren- dous traffic that Friday of the infamous move-over rally on EDSA, his close en- counter with traffic, Manila style. At the time, he was not aware of the peculiar circumstances that caused the worse-than-usual traffic on EDSA. Let me share – with his permission – his account with you and, as those pass-on emails are wont to say, be sure and read it to the end.

The incredible escape

By Lito Tacujan

Call it foolhardy. Pure luck. Testing Fate. Feeling stupid. Playing it close. Or simply an incredible escape.

We’ve been through a nerve-wracking, intimidating, distressing, hilarious and stressful run as we became unwitting victims to the monstrous traffic that had been the daily bane of the city.

We were to leave for a holiday in Hong Kong and our flight read: Z2 1201 Air Asia. Departure time 3:05 pm at NAIA.

We’re keen on being at the terminal an hour before the ETD, the better to have a smooth kickoff for the family’s long weekend.

Except that the planned Crown Colony bash that had the children and apos all excited for a week was fast turning into a nightmare before it even started because of the horrific traffic.

“Better leave early,” we told the wife since we would act as advance party in the Chinese version of the Magic Kingdom.

What we thought was a good two-hour lead for the travel from Marikina van- ished in a crawling bumper-to-bumper Friday jam. By noon we were still hope- lessly stuck somewhere in Cubao and there was no way we could reach NAIA in time for the flight to HK.

“Let’s take the train,” I said, at that point the most logical thing to do.

We rushed to the Quezon Ave. station, parked the car on the curb, hauled our bags, climbed interminable steps, walked past lines of commuters, bought our tickets, and the next thing we knew we were seated in a car for Senior Citizens, Pregnant Women, Those With Disability. It was 1 p.m.

We were on our way to getting back on track. Or so we thought. It was actually only the first half of this “obstacle course,” we found out to our chagrin. We got off at the Taft station, hailed a street runner to hail us a taxi and that’s when we met Mang Jess, the cab driver, the man of the hour. It was 1:35 p.m.

“Terminal one, 3 p.m. flight. Ako ho bahala,” said the 62-year-old driver.

He confidently zipped, zigged, zagged through the traffic and in due time we were at NAIA. It was past 2 p.m. It was beginning to rain.

We called a porter, showed our e-tickets and his remark was like the report of a gun being fired. “Wala hong Air Asia dito. Terminal three ho,” he said.

We hailed back Mang Jess and said it was Terminal 3. For the first time, with the rain hard on the roof of his cab and a snaking jam of vehicles ahead, and with time ticking away, he didn’t look very confident.

But drive he did. He zipped, zigged and zagged through the snarling traffic and lo and behold, we were at Terminal 3 and nearing the hour of 3.

But our ordeal was far from over.

“Air Asia!” said the porter, “sunod lang kayo sa akin.”

And he literally skateboarded the trolley through the crowd and stopped in front of the Air Asia desk, stated our case and was given by the ground crew an incredulous look that all but shattered our hopes.

“Negative. It’s been closed 20 minutes ago,” she said.

We pleaded and pleaded and finally she relented, our two pieces of luggage small enough to be hand carried and issued two boarding passes.

Whizzing through immigration, we found Gate 101 which was assigned to our flight, at the other end of the terminal.

Fearing we might miss the trip all together, we talked to an airport security officer who promptly flagged down an emergency shuttle, actually a six-seater golf cart and, waving his hands to part the crowd, he burned rubber as if we were being pursued by a bunch of Muslim rebels.

Finally, the cart stopped at Gate 101, we scrambled out of it and triumphantly told the crew we made the flight to Hong kong.

“The flight to Hong Kong,” she said, “is delayed for one and a half hours.”

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