Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Che disastro!

The Rossoneri lost to ManU at Old Trafford, 2-3, in the first leg of the semifinals of Champions League. Despite odds stacked against ManU because of injuries.

Milan leave the Old Trafford with their heads held high in what was a brilliant and hard-fought game against Manchester United. Kakà put in a double and Cristiano Ronaldo reacted to close the first half 2-1 in the Rossoneri's favour. Wayne Rooney scored a double after halftime with the second goal coming well into injury time (59' and 91') to seal United’s 3-2 first leg victory over Milan.

Monday, April 23, 2007

UNIV 2007

Some friends attended the UNIV 2007 Congress in Rome during thr Holy Week. They had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. When I attended UNIV in 1990, we had the audience with Pope John Paul II on Easter Sunday at the Cortille di San Damaso. This year, the audience was in St Peter's Square it seems.
More pix here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The worst mass murder in America?

Recent news stories say the VT massacre is the worst mass murder in the US.
Or not.. Click here for what should be the worst. VT pales.

This is good

The United States Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

Read more.

Read the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What I miss hearing after landing

(Letter sent to Customer Service. Turns out the mob is just a crowd wanting some answers from Cebu Pacific personnel)

What I miss, as in really miss, a lot hearing after landing, you know, just before the stop, is when Jen, or Mia, or Ever (ok, am probably making these names up, although Ever was on 571) says, "... the airline that's on time 95% of the time." Yup, tagal na nun. Sadly, with my own experiences of delays (all the flights I took in 2006 until yesterday) and from stories of friends, I tend to believe that the "opposite" is now true -- that Seb is 5% on time.

I think I will still fly Cebu Pacific (I win in the fun games -- last time was on March 22, on the, yes, delayed flight 5J564 from Cebu). If only to see that its being number 1 in many ways also include being number 1 in punctuality. If only to see it improve for the better.

Last year, when the runway at Domestic Terminal Manila was being improved, which was one reason you mentioned as causing the delays, I accepted that. Today, after my experience yesterday which is the basis of this letter, I do not believe that reason so much. And why do I think that? When we were not using that runway in the beginning, and we had to taxi to the NAIA runway still before take off, we were on time, 95% of time. So, that runway has no positive effect, by simple logic. Nevertheless, the flights from Cebu that I took in the recent past were also delayed, and we only have one runway in Cebu, like in Manila then.

Of course, the other reason that we now often hear is the late arrival of turn-around aircraft. To my family, we call this our friend TAA. Obviously enough, the late arrival is not due to slower plane speed, because the flight times are generally the same on the same route. The late arrival is due to late take-off. Why the late take-off?
The late take-off can be caused by the following, based on my own experience, but in no particular order: (1) plane malfunction, (2) late boarding of checked-in passenger, (3) late documents (in that flight in March, we were delayed by about an hour, and yet the documents cannot be produced on time? makes me think we were delayed because the papers were not in order), (4) delay in luggage or cargo, (5) malfunctioning tube or shuttle bus problems, (6) weather disturbance, (7) coup d'etat or other similar uprisings and/or security problems and procedures, (8) impending Presidential flight, (9) passenger in wrong flight, and (10) big number of passengers. Others I have heard about are (1) bumping off of unruly passenger caused by bomb joke or FUI, flying under the influence and (2) airport mishap (as another plane blocks runway or goats on the runway or alleged original landowner blocks runway).

As we see in the list, there are fortuitous events and avoidable situations. Now I start guessing (and ranting). Fortuitous events I cannot control. Avoidable situations? I write my two-cents'.

Plane malfunction should be little heard of because Seb's siblings are new. Checked-in passenger late in boarding, passenger in wrong flight (this happended on a flight to Davao, when a man who was to fly to Bacolod took a seat on a Davao flight, realizing only later as we were about to taxi to position that he was on the wrong flight, yada-yada), unruly passenger, and people involved in coup d'etat etc., I think should be shot -- with knowledge shots so they think better -- so we can take off on time. Weather conditions, ok fine, Presidential flight, well, respect.

This leaves us with the rest. And here I am now really guessing and ranting.

I think that Cebu Pacific is growing too fast too soon. The GO fares have allowed many Filipinos to travel by plane. Let's face it: we fly Cebu Pacific because of the lower fares to many more destinations. To fly because of your service? Yes, but I think this is because we have experienced your kind of service in the beginning. Sadly, not the same service now. And one BIG SERVICE that we want is punctuality. Lose this, well, you probably lose some future passengers, a few maybe, but wouldn't it be better to know that the Cebu Pacific flyer is a service-satisfied one than someone who only wants a cheap, no frills ride (no food, no newspapers)?
Is the volume of passengers too much for ground crew to handle, from check-in to cargo handling? It takes longer to check-in now than before. Because of the volume, maybe? Because of lack of technical capabilities as in number of check-in counters, maybe? Because of too many flights that you spread your personnel too thinly, maybe? Obviously, you need to board all confirmed passengers, so you need to process all of them who are in line on time, so the plane can't take off if not all are on board. And when one plane gets delayed, all other flights are delayed.

So on to yesterday. I was taking flight 569, and according to published schedules, that leaves at 1615 from Manila. So I was in the airport at 3pm. In line (long line) by 3:08. At 3:30, check-in lady announces that she was taking the tickets of the 569 passengers. One minute later, I was called, jumped to the front of the line from 20 passengers down, and was given my boarding pass. While I was at pre-departure, while putting my boarding pass in a side pocket of my carry-on and I thought I saw a 1720 boarding. First thought: hay naku, delayed na naman. Upon further scrutiny: wow! Flight 571. D-uh?

Not wanting to get back to check-in because of security checks, I went to passenger assistance (those ladies were doing a fine job, even as in a span of 3 hours later they were the most harrassed ladies) and they told me 569 was cancelled and we were moved to 571. Accepted. At least the flight was not delayed (heh). As time went on, many announcements of plane delays went through the PA system (I think we should have different tones in the PA system, because that single bell tone gives me the creeps -- you know, bad news tone), I dread the worse.

The confusion started for many of us when the second announcement to the delay of 569 came. Followed by the delay of 571. Woah. We thought you said 569 was cancelled then now it is delayed. What is it really? Turns out another plane from an international flight was available, and those transferred to 571 will no longer be transferred because departure time is not far apart. Fine. With me. But not with some. One big guy must have pounded that counter so many times, I was afraid it would break. Another vocal blonde guy couldn't take it sitting down later. A crowd formed, I thought a brawl will break out. It did not. Good thing.

In the end, we took off at 1940 (3.5 hours delayed lang naman -- that didn't break me as much after having experienced a total of 15 hours of delay on Easter Sunday 2000, in two airports, with another airline), and touched down in probably the best landings I ever experienced on an airbus -- that Capt. Fernandez is good -- at 2040. I could have won again in the fun games, but two questions out of three I knew from previous flights, so I did not answer. Funny, too, because the first question was "Who is the president of Cebu Pacific?", as if, I thought, flight steward/attendant wanted us to write to him for our complaints. I threw the thought out: Customer service is good enough.

My thoughts on yesterday's. It would have been best to inform me (goes for all because it seems some didn't realize the move also) why they were transferring me to another flight or as they probably thought correctly that I would not check my boarding pass and just be waived off by the gate personnel because I was trying to board a wrong plane, they did not see the need. If an announcement was made, at least, I did not catch it. So I was really clueless until I "accidentally" saw what was printed. If they restored the flight, there could have been some way to inform those who have checked-in about it. It appeared that those who were late in checking in actually got the earlier flight -- as one asked, what was the criteria used to choose the passengers who will be moved -- probably it was all random anyway. Like the group of students who I saw were still arriving when I finished check-in. Food can be a good appeaser. You could have offered something. People were tired and hungry. Airport food is expensive. I would not have taken anything, even then, but the thought of being cared for eases the mind (gutom lang 'yan).

Oh, lest I forget, what I hope not to miss hearing after landing is: We are sorry for the inconvenience of the delayed arrival of this flight.

(and that all two familiar dah-dah of received SMS, shoot them!)

ACM vs. ManU

This only means that the Rossoneri beat FC Bayern München in their UEFA Champions League quarters. ACM scored 2-0 to seal a UEFA Champions League semi-final date with Manchester United FC in a rematch of a knockout tie from two years ago. FORZA! Clarence Seedorf, now wearing jersey number 10!, scored one and fed another for their win last Tuesday.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Yellow Cab

Originally uploaded by asmillan3.
After the Visita Iglesia, we took pizza at Yellow Cab (Tagaytay). That's John, Lal, and Jojo.

Lourdes Grotto

Originally uploaded by asmillan3.
This is the Grotto at Lourdes in Tagaytay. I did my first Visita Iglesia in the Ridge this Holy Thursday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tagaytay Conference Center

Here are creatures that you would likely encounter when you walk.

Or this.

Heh, this is at the "Aquarium" in Matuod, Lian, Batangas.

Tagaytay Conference Center

I've been either swimming or walking/running during sports period. Which is good because I never get to do this on a daily basis in Cebu. I noticed lots of spiders on the trees, on the coffee plants, and on electrical wires outside the property -- spiders that I have not seen since I left the Dolefil area (South Cotabato) for university in Metro Manila.

Here are some shots of these spiders. Spooky?

Tagaytay Conference Center

It is two weeks now since I arrived in Tagaytay Conference Center in Mendez, Cavite, about 6 kilometers from Tagaytay City. Although the landscaping and the sports facilities need to be finished, TCC's seminar and board and lodging facilities are fully functional. Weather these days is good. The sun's out everyday, and there is always a clean, cool breeze. Not as cool as Tagaytay, for sure, but it has been very pleasant.

TCC at dusk.

Internet use has been minimal. Great like this, actually.

I've been either swimming or walking/running during sports period. Which is good because I never get to do this on a daily basis in Cebu.