Rant #3

(Note: This was written a few weeks after Typhoon Odette hit the Visayas region and parts of northern Mindanao)

A few years ago, Cebu Pacific passengers experienced hell on earth at the NAIA Terminal 3. They were supposed to be flying home for the Christmas holidays, but they found out that, when they got to the airport, (1) their flight was massively delayed or, worse, (2) their flight was canceled altogether. We’re talking thousands of passengers here, so you can just imagine the chaos at the airport on that day.

Cebu Pacific blamed air-traffic congestion at the airport and the transfer of operations of five international airlines to Terminal 3. The airline company said that this contributed to the flight delays and cancellations. The head of NAIA at that time called bullshit on this. There were other domestic airlines in Terminal 3, he pointed out, and those airlines were able to accommodate all their passengers. The real problem? There were a lot of passengers, and the check-in processing of the airline was slow. The airline didn’t have enough check-in counters to process the passengers.

Why did Cebu Pacific accept a shitload of passengers then, and during the Christmas holidays at that, if they wouldn’t be able accommodate those passengers anyway? The Philippine government at that time, under President Noynoy Aquino, ordered Cebu Pacific to pay 52 million pesos in fines for the flight delays and cancellations brought about by the Christmas rush.

A few weeks ago, Cebuanos experienced hell on earth when Typhoon Odette hit the Philippines on December 16. Houses, especially those made of light materials, were destroyed. Trees were upended. Families were displaced, people died. Utility poles and power lines littered the streets. Electricity and water were cut off. Internet and cellphone signal? Gone.
Until now, there are still a lot of Cebuanos without electricity. My father, who lives in Talisay City, has gone without electricity for almost a month now. A friend recently posted on her Facebook account some photos of toppled utility poles and power lines strewn all over the street. She’s been contacting the local power company every day, hoping that someone could at least clean up the power lines and electric poles, to no avail.

A friend in our group chat commented that in the Philippines, whenever a typhoon hits, it feels like the FIRST time–EVERY TIME. We are not prepared. Which is funny (well, actually, it’s NOT funny) because an average of 20 typhoons a year hit the Philippines. We all know the definition of insanity, right? Doing things over and over and expecting different results. In this case, it’s NOT doing anything AT ALL and expecting different results.
It’s insane. A power company should be more prepared, especially since they know that a super typhoon can easily knock out the electricity. What gets my goat, though, is that some people from said power company are trying to appeal emotionally to irate customers by using their linemen.
“Please stop blaming the linemen, they are doing what they can, they are risking their lives.” Or words to that effect.

Seriously, nobody’s blaming the linemen. The linemen have all our respect for doing what they do, for risking life and limb.

Everybody’s blaming THE COMPANY itself.

I always try to avoid shooting the messenger. When I took a domestic flight on Zest Air eons ago (my first and only flight on said airline), which was delayed for seven hours, my heart bled for the check-in counter clerks who got the brunt of the customers’ anger. It wasn’t their fault. It was the fault of Zest Air, the company.

As far as I know, after that shit show at NAIA, Cebu Pacific passengers never experienced something as horrible as that again. (If a 52-million fine doesn’t fucking make sure you do a better job as a company, nothing will.) And I haven’t heard Cebu Pacific shifting the blame on the check-in clerks either. “Please stop blaming the check-in clerks, they are doing what they can, they are overworked now as it is.” Or words to that effect.

This is what we don’t have in the Philippines–accountability. People at the top (especially in government, hooboy) love to shift the blame. If you’re one of the higher-ups at said power company, you have to brace for the backlash. Or better yet, why not be prepared for the next super typhoon instead?

Ah, but we’re talking about the Philippines here.

A life of misery for the common Filipino? It comes with the territory–all 7,107 islands of it.

 
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