The plane hadn't stopped taxiing yet and the fasten seatbelt sign was still on when I turned my mobile phones on: that which had my HK sim and that which had my Philippine sim. As soon as they let out their respective sounds, the other passengers around me turned their heads towards me and gave me a persecutive look. Embarassing. I got out of the plane as soon as the doors opened.
I was in line for the immigration when I realized none of my phones worked. I forgot to turn the my HK roaming on, and my Philippine sim was out of credits. I ran to the nearest call card dispensing machine which was, lo and behold, defective. It ate up my two hundred pesos and refused to accept the last hundred. After hitting the machine twice, I gave up and said goodbye to my money. Thank God there was a phone booth nearby; close to it, were two of the passengers that weren't amused when I turned my phones on earlier. With much delight and pride, they gave me a demeaning look. I tried to ignore them, dropped the coins and dialled Bibe. She said she was on the way; but I knew it would take her long.
I parked myself close to the passenger exit, so that Bibe would easily spot me when she arrived. Thirty minutes later, I realized that it had been almost 4 hours since I last had a cigarette. I decided to have one, but didn't know where to go. "Manong, san pwede mag-yosi? (Sir, where may I smoke?)," I asked the first security guard I saw.
"Dyan. (Right there.)," His answer was quick, as though my question was stupid.
I looked around but didn't find an ashtray. Instantly, an incident that happened at the domestic airport during my last Manila visit, back in 2007, flashed in my mind.
Towards my last three puffs, I saw a security person and politley asked, "Manong, san pwede magtapon nito (Sir, where can I throw this)?" referring to my cigarette butt.
"Dyan. (Right there.)" He pointed to the ground.
(Bonne Vacances, November 16, 2007)
I wondered whether I'd see a deja vu. I tried, and I did see a deja vu.
Few more minutes later, Bibe and her endearing boyfriend, Pusoy arrived. As soon as I hopped in the car, we started yakking relentlessly. We didn't stop until we got to the Ayala underpass. Bibe was talking about her mom and I rudely cut her with a big gasp.
"What happened, babe?", she asked.
"Black smoke. I missed this. Pollution at its finest," I smiled.
It had already been a long day for me, and it wasn't even past lunchtime yet. It was my first day. There was a longer day ahead of me, and in order to prepare myself for that, we decided to go for lunch--- my first Manila meal. JT's pecho, chicken tail, garlic rice and San Mig Strong Ice.