From Manila to Bicol - The stillness before a tempest (2)
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(cont'd...) It was early in the morning, the next day after the flight cancellation, when I jumped into hotel's shuttle service off to Manila Domestic Airport. My extended stay in the shower earlier didn't help because humidity on that particular day was already building as soon as I alighted from the vehicle. Soon after, I was inside the new Terminal 3 of the airport where I was sheltered from further sweltering heat. Typically tropical, in a sense. I proceeded to the counter. This time, I trusted my instinct that there won't be any delay; in contrast to yesterday's, I proved myself right. If yesterday was abysmal, this time, ticketing agent did her job of assigning me a seat without any problem at all.
I learned that from Manila to Legazpi, I only need to nap (if I choose to) for 45 minutes until we land. This flight was one of my memorable ones. As we were getting near Bicol region, I knew that our altitude was also beginning to drop further in preparation for landing. With anticipation, I peered out from the window, and realised that this is the closest I could ever come to see the majestic Mayon Volcano. Mayon is from the dialect root word "magayon" or beautiful. As the plane lowers its altitude even more and prepares for its landing coordinate, it glided teasingly few hundred metres away from slope of the volcano, and thus - midway from volcano's summit, those long fissures and deep crannies that were created by lava flows in the past got unbelievably clear from my satiated eyes.
Close to landing, the plane went straight ahead to the East (open sea) before finally making a slow 180-degree (I knew it made a turn) back and towards the landing pad of the domestic airport of Legazpi. The airport, I realised afterwards, is situated not too far from the Philippine Sea. There was this thrill of experiencing the plane glided so close above the sea as it made its final landing approach (as if fuselage underbody was touching the water), so close that I could see, as we pass by overhead, some fishermen paddling from their small outrigger.
Legazpi Domestic Airport is a modest one. Judging from dilapidation on some parts of the office building, it must have survived strong typhoons in the past, or it could have gone from a budget shortage. Instead of waiting for my luggage at the carousel, a porter (they have this number identifier on their shirt) asked for my baggage claim number and he took care of them for me. Out of the arrival's gate, I saw my wife with my brothers-in-law waiting. It took us again another two hours of driving before finally reaching my wife's place.
There was a great get together of the family as soon as I arrived. In our culture, celebration is always coupled with feast or at least, a generous amount of foods on the table. Whatever type of celebration we plan to have, the invites almost always extend to relatives, friends or even to next-door neighbours and the next-block neighbours. We generally love being warm and welcoming, and to have visitors around to entertain, we feel a sense of satisfaction in the end. In retrospect to the stated general character of Filipinos, it is fair to say that ours is one of the most hospitable cultures one can find.
Although tired and ready to resign to bed, I had to stay awake as I felt the obligation to complement my family's enthusiasm and merriment for us of being together again. TO BE CONTINUED.