Tuesday, January 16

Flying home in expensive Style

At 10 am on my last day in the Philippines i made sure i visited my departed family in the town cemetery to show my respects and to say my goodbyes. I was in tears particularly for my cousin and former best friend Francis and apologized for not being able to attend his funeral several years ago. We toasted in his honor a few times on my last night, he is dearly missed... Somehow my friend Kris who took me to the cemetery even though i was leaving for Manila in two hours convinced me to buy a case of Beer and have a few more before going (him and i had a couple of 24 hour sessions), maybe i just wanted him to shut up and so i conceded. But I think the convincing factor was seeing my sister with a bottle of Red Horse in hand (extra strong beer) in front of the Videoke Machine we rented the night before, still drunk haha. I figured i'd join her. Then a short 30 minutes later we had to pick up yet another Case because some friends who came to say goodbye joined in the last minute party. If you can believe it i spent all of 23 days trying to sober up. Every single day i would tell myself i would take a break, that i needed a break, but something always behooved us to get Beer, and the Food-- Oh My God... I never could have imagined i could go that long. See on the 5th day i was so tired of the drunkenness i wondered if i could last another day let alone 18 more days. Not that i intended to go 23 days, i didn't, it just sort of happened that way, you know what i mean?

Finally after what seemed like interminable goodbyes and kisses even from grown men (my friends) we boarded the Van bound for Manila at 1:30 pm, 8 1/2 hours before our flight (Manila is about a 2 hour drive). 8 hours was a big enough margin even with the worst possible type of traffic conceivable, right? Two miles down my sister yelped and said she forgot something, i thought this was a bad omen but it took a mere 10 minutes then we were off again so i was able to breath easy. Two short hours later we arrive in Manila and as expected was met with some heavy traffic. Only, it never subsided... Inauspiciously the annual Asean Games was being held in Manila this year showcasing a fireworks display around the same time my flight was due to board. The fireworks was a site to behold from the Airport's 2nd Level Departure area except it Mocked us as we sat there disbelieving our plight. We missed our flight by several minutes due to the horrible traffic the fireworks display yielded. It begs the question, "What if we never went back for whatever my sister forgot?" i wonder if we'd made it hmm... Anyway, we sat there faces ashen in disbelief. To compound matters their computers conveniently went down near closing time while my sister was negotiating for the next flight out. Luckily she was able to successfully book my dad for the next day but still i wonder if someone intentionally pulled the plug because it was near quitting time. I wouldn't put it past them crooked Filipinos...

4 long hours later (2:30 am), frazzled and agitated we virtually crawl into the Ticket Office with high hopes only to be turned away, there were no available seats until the 22nd of January, 8 days later. This was not a plausible solution because my recent job change meant my vacation was unpaid and the prospect of another unpaid week was financially crippling (like i couldn't afford my Mammoth Trip, and that can not be... lol). Unfortunately it was the best that they could offer so before the other desperate travelers stole away the available seats we reserved four seats for Jan 22nd and got first dibs as 'chance passengers' for the evening's two available flights before negotiating other options. There was no guarantee in that however so we had to seek alternate options. The next possible option was flying to San Francisco, unfortunately that was a dead end as well too. Flying via other Airlines wasn't practical either because of cost which left us only with one plausible option, to fly first class. My dad confidently suggested it shouldn't be too expensive to upgrade anyway. "It should be around $300 each" he surmised. I didn't want to play the skeptic but $300 on a last minute fare was wishful thinking (but i did tell him that lol). His jaw almost dropped when the guy came back with the price, a whopping $2086.00 each hahaha. Me, i smiled, not because i was right but because i came up with what i thought was a brilliant idea, turns out it was a $2086.00 idea lol...

So without many options we settle for the chance passenger thing, but not before my Father thought of his best idea yet, an idea that cost us another 7 hours. See he has this friend who has a friend who has a friend that supposedly holds a pretty high position in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. He says a friend of his was faced wih a similar problem a couple of years ago and was helped by this supposed friend who has a friend who holds a high seat in the Airport. Allegedly she was able to get him a seat in 1st class costing him absolutely nothing. Hard to believe i know but he swears by it. The only problem was no one seemed to know who this supposed High Ranking person is. After many phone calls and inquiries to no avail i began to think this person did not exist. I tried to convince my father the rather incredulous story of the free 1st Class seat was probably fabricated. He looked mad but he let it go quickly. Finally on the 7th hour we found her, or at least the Department in which she works in. Unfortunately was she was at a funeral, and we were running out of time. We did speak to the interim Supervisor of the said Department who offered no more a resolution than the stupid Ticket Booth person who looked about 20 years older than he really is, seriously.

We decided to stick around until the next flight (10 long hours to go) and take our chances as 'chance passengers' with the option of possibly forking out 2G's as a last resort. Around noon my dad and i had to go back to the old man to officially pay the fare for his reserved seat, but old man was gone. Turns out to be a blessing, turns out he's a fucking idiot because the lady that helped us was 10 million times smarter than him. The 1st class was not much cheaper but it was at least more than half what the old man originally quoted. Even the lady said the old man was ridiculous. I didn't bother asking why the attempted swindle, i think we were just happy to have a means to go home even at a still steep price of $943.00 each. We collectively agreed it was our best chance to go home. Who knows maybe we still go ripped off but it sure sounded better than $2086.00, not to mention lighter on the wallet. I'm still confused to as why the old man quoted us 2K when the nice lady quoted half. I wonder how the extra monies are appropriated if we'd actually paid the initial quote we were fooled to believe was true. Is there a pool of swindled cash at the end of the day? It is some kind of a secret Broker Fee? Ughh who knows, i guess someday I'll get over it.

Finally after an arduous day of haggling we board our flight and sleep forever...


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