What is happening in our airport? I’m not talking about the obvious decay of facilities. That’s old news. I’m talking about security, or the lack thereof. On June 1, Patrick and I drove to NAIA to pick up my mom. (She’s back. Yay!)
Our usual system, an unspoken rule in our family, is that we would just pick up under our letters. So, either O for Osena or P for Paez. This is how it’s been for over a decade. But last night, there were no more letter signs. Instead, just generic signs with “Bay 1” and so on… I saw NAIA in a chaotic and confusing state. Apparently NAIA changed its system.
Under the system that we’ve gotten used to, cars were usually not allowed to lay idle in the driveway. Security would only let you hang out for a maximum of 30 seconds, maybe up to a minute. But if your passenger wasn’t there, the airport guards would shoo you away. Then you’d have to do the rounds, make a U-turn in Nayong Pilipino, then drive up all over again. It was harsh, but in an overpopulated city, we all had to live with that. The system worked. Everyone followed the rules.
There was another option, pay for parking in the outside lot. There, you can have access to the waiting shed across from arrivals, but it wasn’t free. You can walk upstairs where there were fast food stalls and full blast air-conditioning while you can look over the huge glass viewing deck. I believe it was something like P50 per person. The downstairs wasn’t free either, but it was cheaper. Harsh. But again, in this country, one overseas-based Filipino would arrive and his whole clan or barangay would meet him at arrivals. I remember the old airport… with trucks and jeeps of relatives and friends either making “salubong” or making “hatid.”
That old system was the only thing that was good about NAIA. It actually worked. For decades. People were deterred from going to the airport. Families Friends and neighbours stopped going to the airport to pick up or send off a loved one. Instead they eagerly awaited their pasalubongs at home. The arrival area was actually decongested. And it worked just fine.
I don’t know why the new airport management changed the system when it wasn’t actually broken. Here’s what happened:
From the waiting shed anyone can cross the street and go to arrival bays. This was totally not allowed before. I was even able to walk up the arrival ramp. No one checked. All the security guards just looked but no one was checked.
I remember a few years ago, when Gloria Arroyo was still president, she flipped out on an airport general because the security guards were not checking vehicles. We all had to open the glove compartment and be subjected to major vehicle checks. Now? None of that. It’s a free for all. Anyone can drive in and you won’t even be stopped.
Security at the RCBC tower a mall is even tighter.
This worries me.
I like tight airport security. Makes me feel safe.
I know everyone HATES the Manila International Airport. Call me crazy, but I love the architecture. It’s all part of the same style as PICC, Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Philippine Plaza, Film Centre. But it badly needs repairs and an upgrade. There are ways to preserve the architectural style while upgrading the services and amenities. They can build extensions made of glass and steel but still preserve the facade and main structure. This is done all over the world. I like the retro feel. Imagine if the fixtures and interiors were upgraded. I’m excited about what Kenneth Cobonpue and his group has planned for NAIA1. And once I know, I will share the information with you.
I don’t think the solution is to build another state of the art airport. Because it really isn’t the building that’s wrong… it’s the management and delivery of services. NAIA2 and 3 are new, but I can think of a hundred things wrong with the way they’re being run and maintained.
For now, I hope NAIA and it’s security officers shape up. I like tight security. We need that. Bring it back. Before anything bad happens.