The airport is a bittersweet place. It is where families, friends and loved ones wave goodbyes to departing passengers. It is also where people welcome arriving travelers.
It was no different when I was at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport. We parted after the comforting hugs. And there I was, with only my backpack and courage. I showed my passport and printed itinerary to the security personnel and had my backpack checked in the scanner.
As a first timer at the Clark Airport, I first let my eyes wander and observe. Many passengers were in line at the check-in counters. Good thing, I already had my web check-in online. Though I printed the boarding pass for the airport security check, I still wanted to try if the code from my phone will work. I walked to the self-service web check-in machines of AirAsia. It was so amazing to scan the code from my phone and print the boarding pass. How I wish other local airlines will do the same.
After printing my boarding pass, I went to the Philippine Travel Tax section to pay the required Php 1,620 travel tax of TIEZA. It’s okay to pay as long as you see where your money go. But where do travel taxes go TIEZA? I can’t see any improvement that justifies the payment of the travel tax.
After the travel tax was paid, I filled out the departing passengers form and paid the terminal fee of Php 600. The Clark Airport terminal fee is lower by Php 150. At the NAIA terminals, they charge Php 750 for the terminal fee.
There was no line at the immigration counters so I was readily called. I smiled at the officer and gave out my passport. The questioning began. As I observed, the officer tried to sound threatening with his questions. I just answered confidently to every question that he threw at me. There were relevant questions but there were also irrelevant questions.
RELEVANT QUESTION: Bakit wala kang return flight sa Clark? (Why don’t you have a return flight bound for Clark?)
ANSWER: My return flight is bound for Manila from Singapore. Of course, it’s nearer to my home. I ‘ll be flying here at Clark because AirAsia’s here and I bought a ticket on sale. (Good thing, I printed the itinerary of my return flight. I showed it to him then.)
IRRELEVANT QUESTION: Anong course mo at saan ka nag-aral? ( What’s your course and Where did you study?)
ANSWER: As much as I would like to say, “It must be the baby face but I’m no longer a student. lol…“ I said confidently, “I graduated with a degree of BS Development Communication from the University of the Philippines Los Banos.” (I would have added with flying colors but chose not to.)
After that, he was silent and did not ask any further questions. He handed out my passport and off I went to the departure area. Whew! Sigh of relief.
I looked around and sat at one of the benches. Most of the passengers bound for Kuala Lumpur were foreigners and overseas Filipino workers.
Thank God for the chocolate banana sandwiches that J made for me. Somehow, it filled the hunger. It was 11:00 am. It’s time to board the plane. Goodbye Philippines! In 3 hours, hello again KL! And the 57-hour Southeast Asia challenge begins in KL.