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December 8, 2015

Tourism, terrorism, traffic, terrific

September 29, 2015

Last Saturday, 26 September, could be one of the golliest (goriest?) nights of the year.
 
TOURISM.  Which side of the moon does he come from?  Despite the Samal Island kidnapping of a Pinay and three foreigners, House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Arnel Ty press-released his optimal confidence in tourism boom because, following the falling aviation jet fuel prices, airlines, and travel operators offer huge discounts, DOT programed a P4.6-billion sales pitch for PH as a foreign tourist destination, and DPWH outlayed P24 billion for new infrastructures.
 
After pom-pom cheerleading, the solon turned sober and asked the three-month-old new PNP Director General Ricardo Marquez to feed his optimism, “We are counting on the police to neutralize the kidnappers and rescue the hostages,” he said.
 
TERRORISM.  The other below- the-belt punch to our tourism are cases like a Michael White detained for a five days by the police for a bullet found  in his baggage; (the tourist alleges that an airport security personnel offered settlement for P30,000). Despite what Senator Ralph Recto calls the “alphabet soup of government agencies” at NAIA, social media is awash with “tanim bala” horror tales of passengers.  (Because of this scare, my wife asks me to accompany our son in and out of NAIA when he visits.)
 
Senator Recto expressed outrage at this economic sabotage and flagged Section 38 of RA 10591 which prescribes for perpetrators of this scam automatic lifetime accommodation in Muntinlupa.  He ticked off government revenues from 31 million passengers at NAIA last year, vide: Manila International Airport Authority (P8.7 billion in 2013, Office of Transportation Security (P1.4 billion in 2014), Philippine Tourism Authority (P5.1 billion expected from travel tax this year), etc.
 
Manila International Airport Authority GM Jose Angel Honrado can begin with the eagle-eyed x-ray operators, if he can break the omerata.  (Because the cabal can dig in and wait for the controversy to die out.)
 
Other pene ante schemes at the NAIA are baggage pilferage, the mushrooming of unaccredited taxis, illegal search on travellers on suspicion of carrying extra cash, etc.
 
Item. When a balikbayan arrived the other week without his missing baggage; he was asked to return after one week to the lost & found section.   (His fellow traveller had his suitcase smashed, with valuables missing.)
 
Item. A classmate, a man of consequence, arrived missing one of his impedimenta of Louis Vuitton suitcases.  After an inordinately long wait, he announced P10,000 reward for anyone who finds the missing item and, mirabile dictu, the suitcase surfaced!  He kept the promise and forked out the reward…which unfortunately encourages bad habits at the baggage section.
 
UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED.  The good news is that traffic enforcers now assist motorists coming down from the Skyway to cross over to take the overpass to continue to Sergio Osmeña Ave.   But for those of us turning on Buendia, it needs the patience of Job.


 
Worse, at 6:06 last Saturday evening, motorists were bullied by a BBL (not Bangsamoro but a half-empty bus BBL trans 3163) which elbowed all of us out of our lane.  The driver went on to zig-zag the stretch of Buendia.  I am told that the runaway bus is not an exception, but the rule: To “make boundary” in Daang Matuwid, do it by Daanin sa laki.
 
HAPPY ENDING.  The near-disaster Saturday would nevertheless end happily in the evening at a private soiree concert performance at Syquia Apartment on M. H. del Pilar  I first heard Lenor Kilayco as a gifted ingénue pianist who was a favorite of then Ambassador Gregorio G. Abad in Bonn, Germany.  Despite her soft Ilonggo accent, she can be as German as her Steinway piano.  I heard Leonor light years after back home when Ambassador Herbert Jess hosted her concert at the German Residence, where she beguiled the cultural nabobs of Makati.
 
(BTW, lightning strikes twice in the least likely place and most untimely occasion.  Like in my account last Friday about the faux pas of the Ambassador’s son, Pepito Abad, presenting the bouquet to the violinist Carmencita Abad before intermission, Pepito did it again at the klavierabend hosted by Philippine honorary Consul General Karl Heinz Stockheim in Düsseldorf and presented the bouquet to Leonor before intermission.)
 
At the evening’s invitational concert performance, we sat next to her sister Asuncion Kilayko Ng, who as a child played with another sister and Leonor six hands on the family piano de cola.  But only Leonor went on to world-beating caliber.  Asuncion herself is an active member of women volunteers for our museum.
 
After Leonor’s fingers coaxed out of the ivory Robert Schumann (Arabeske Opus 18 in C Major, Scenes of Childhood Opus 15, Papillons Ops 2) and Frederic Chopin (Ballde Opus 47 in Ab Major, Ballade Opus 23 in G Minor), the room bloomed a garden of bouquets.  My wife Meng also gave Leonor one of our remaining commemorative souvenir watches on the 60th anniversary of Franco-Philippine relations.  She reciprocated the enthusiasm of admirers with several encores.

Ende gut, alles gut (Shakespeare, translated into German).  Nothing soothes the savage breast as music, which heals even the wreck of survivors of traffic horror of a runaway monster bus.  We asked for a raincheck when Leonor invited us to a nightcap at the Diamond Hotel.  Cruising on the Skyway, we were a lilt higher on the clouds …with the ohrwurm of Leonor’s fingers traipsing on her Steinway.

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