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WAR I G: This report may contain traces of subjects that your not interested in, pathetic attempts at humour or be mildly offensive. If disinterest or offence persists, please close this PDF.
Another Aussie invasion of the Philippines. Philippine Railway Historical Society http://philippine-railways.blogspot.com
Brad Peadon PRHS.Society@gmail.com
It was the trip that was never expected to happen, work, and other commitments, never gave me much hope of returning to the land of balut and jeepnies until 2012 at the very earliest. However, as luck would have it, my friend MrX (apparently officially christened as David) is marrying one of my hordes of cousins and he wish upon my help for a trip to Manila to attend to the usual immigration roundabout that is thrown your way when trying to bring someone to our country down under. Of course, one’s asawa (this means wife for all our foreign readers) needed a lot of convincing. I mean, sending your husband, alone, to a country full of the worlds most beautiful women - well - it can’t be an easy thing to do. Thankfully though, being middle aged, overweight and derelict, means that I am not the biggest target on the local hornbag hitlist. I suppose the trip officially started four week prior to departure when an astonishingly small fare appeared on the JetStar website. Compared to the usual fares offered by my preferred Philippine Airlines or the trouble plagued QANTAS, that $540 return was a little hard to refuse—even if it meant around 10 hours of mental torture and no food or drinkie services without a huge financial penalty. Hmmmm, talking of financial penalty, as with any Philippine trip, I was soon subject to the request phenomenon. You see, many locals there live in the belief that being in Australia makes you rich, having never heard of Julia Gillard or carbon tax price increases. After all, you were able to fly to Manila, so you must be rich RIGHT? Never mind your needing to loan the money to do it, or needing to save for a year just to scrape it in. In fact, if you start to tell the sorry tale about Sydney living costs, you tend to bring on more laughter than Bob Hope, or even a funny comedian, could have ever hoped for. Within the next four weeks leading to departure I was approached with the following requests: 1x Computer 2 x Mobile Phone 2 x Camera 1 x Phone with camera 1 x paying of unit 1 x P5000 for education in return for two nights ‘entertainment’. From a girl I should point out. 1 x P7000 for clothes When you consider my mobile is a few years old and problematic, and my computer 5 years old and similarly troublesome, the idea that I could possibly afford these things, even when I can’t update my own, really is beyond belief. The idea that foreigners pick up money off the street is actually a myth. It is up there on the reality ladder with aswang, the Loch Ness monster and generous banking corporations. Many people who have strived most of their lives to come here to Australia are very disheartened to find that the magical Australia bank does not exist and that poverty here is rampant to. However - the myth continues to grow and be believed. Don’t bother trying to spread reality, it is easier to let people discover reality for themselves. In fact, working in a Filipino store here in Sydney, I am well aware that this is the primary reason most people do not wish to travel home. They actually go out of their way to avoid it as most will tell you that they are financially wiped out by the time that they return. However, there is a positive side to returning for me. I get to catch up with rarely seen family there, as well as an ever growing number of great friends from the railway and aviation hobbies. There are so many in both interest areas and who would have though 15 years ago that I could have so many great friends amongst both..
There was also the important side of things, with this trip meant to be a healing of past problems between my railway group, ‘Philippine Railway Historical Society’, and the one I jointly started, the ‘Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of The Philippines’. This getting together of the two groups was an important part of the trip. For me personally more so than the immigration side of things. This was part of a promise to my dear departed friend Bill that the hobby would work together and do something special in the country. It seemed equally important given the rising hatred among railfans in Manila, something I never really appreciated until I got there and listened to the talk of destroying and revenge. This is quite worrying, but a clear indication of a needed change should we truly wish the best for the railways in the Philippines, something that is far more important than self interest alone. Sadly our gathering of the two groups did not go quite as planned, a mixture of the typical Manila traffic and my wrongly chosen location, but a start was made and I hope we all have brighter times ahead. Below is my trip report of events and things noted. Obviously certain parts won’t be of interest to everyone (aviation fans not interested in train stuff etc), however, you could imagine the time needed to do separate reports for all the varied interest, and indeed disinterest, groups. :-)
ovember 4th 2011
Despite a growing interest in aviation, I have always had a deep fear of the actually flying in those big metal beasts of the sky. This, coupled with the excitement of returning to my second home, always ensures very little sleep the night before and a rather docile Brad heading for the airport the next day. This trip was to be my first on JetStar. I had heard the horror stories from past travellers and, being not the most patriotic airline person, I am not sold on the airline simply because it is part of the QANTAS family (though I was impressed that they were part of this family and actually flying at the time). The needs of our shop, along with a few other pre-flight teething hassles, meant that we turned up at the airport around 11am, about two hours later than I had planned. However we did find ourselves with an hour to spare before check in and a small bit of aviation gunzelling was thus partaken in. QA TAS VH-TQD VH-QOV VH-TQS (All Q400 type) VH-VZO JETSTAR VH-VQA VH-VGZ (Quiksilver livery) AIR CHI A B-6092 VIET AM AIRLI ES VN-A376 CATHAY PACIFIC B-LAL With check in time upon us, we headed in for the usual luggage bollocks. Given that this trip was without the wife, for the first time ever I was actually under the allowed luggage weight limit and passed through without tension/argument and was soon devouring lunch in the terminal itself, before photographing what aircraft were in a decent position to do so. VIRGI BLUE VH-VOB, VH-VZB, VH-VBY (This being the unique blue jet due for repaint in December this year) JETSTAR VH-VQF TIGER AIRWAYS
VH-VNK An error in reading the boarding times soon found a planned dunny (CR for our Filo readers, or toilet for our more easily offended western ones) quickly aborted and a sprint to the departure gate to find our plane VH-VGF going through the final minutes of boarding. Now we all know that the excessive food and drink pricing of budget airlines is almost as horrifying as those of movie cinemas. Well, probably due to the fact that planes aren’t Armaguard vans, and can probably only carry the weight of so many coins, they have chosen to trial a credit card only system. So, now, not only can you not use your cash to buy a drink, resulting in being able to see the rapidly dwindling size of your holiday savings, they ask you to use a credit card in a hope that you will forget that you will have to pay it back. After all, limited Aussie dollars would mean you only spend so much. A $5000 credit limit can encourage the poor starving cattle to buy a lot more refreshments to pass the time, than a pocket full of change Soon, but not soon enough, we dragged our worn out frames out of the A320 and into Darwin Airport (apparently owned and operated by the Australian Airforce) sand found ourselves a feed of equal pricing to those JetStar was trying to rip from the wallets of it’s customers. A Red Rooster chicken roll was utilised as a food substitute and soon enough we were back on VH-VGF to find out that our seats, along with one other passenger, had been double booked and that a Darwin stay seemed inevitable (actually I have always wanted to see Darwin and would have been more than happy to do so at JetStar expense - though you can’t help but think they would have put you up on a airport seat and supplies a blanket). Alas, alternative seating was found, not in the cockpit as suggested, and the next 3 1/2 hour flight was commenced, following a nearly one hour delay. This leg was even more dreary than the first and we found ourselves forking out $8, yes $8, for a lousy tin of Bundy and Coke. The mongrels even convinced us to buy some. While sipping on our tin of gold, we discussed how that $8 could have purchased us around three 1 litre bottles of Tanduay in Manila and whether or not the carbon tax will push these tins over the $10 mark. Soon, we found ourselves considering the extremely undersized hot meal, but decided that the eternal poverty that would have resulted was probably not worth the small part of our stomachs that it would have filled. Eventually, EVENTUALLY, we touched down in Manila and, after a rather quick trip through customs, were met by my family. Onyo (brother in law), Zeny (hoped for sister in law) and Pia (My cousin and MrX’s fiancee) were there to greet us and take us to Mabini Mansion, our home for the next week. Thankfully, the lateness of our arrival meant far better traffic than on previous arrivals, thus allowing us the benefit of far less MrX/Pia, lovey dovey, I miss you, smoochy time during the ride to the hotel. Goodness, did me an Ana carry on so sickeningly before we were married? Anyway, co-habitation should put an end to that and we shall be able to resume our normal lives soon after. Please immigration, please oh please get them married so we don’t have to see it anymore :-) On checking in, we all went first to Jollibee to cure the JetStar induced starvation and to 7/11 to purchase some Tanduay and lesser supplies for the week ahead. Ahhhh yes, we were in the Philippines, where alcohol can be purchased from 7/11, any corner store and even in chemists (see people laugh when I tell them Tanduay has medicinal properties).
ovember 5th 2011
Of course, one of the biggest pleasures of any Philippine trip is the chance to make new friends and explore new things. My initial trip to the Philippines, and the desire to explore the railways, has gradually transformed into an interest in all passenger transport within the country.
We had only just stepped out the door to head to Jollibee for breakfast, when we bumped into a group of lovely Chinese ladies living in the room next to use. What started as a casual hello, turned into a great discussion about our respective countries and the Philippines. One lady, Sarah, I got on particularly well with and we planned to all catch up again during the trip. Sadly, our mutual busy schedules meant that this never actually happened until the morning we left. But email addresses were exchanged and I am going to make contact as soon as I finish this trip report. Such are the great surprises you have on such trips. Off we headed to Jollibee in Ermita, well, one of them, for some of their famed breakfast. Now, if you are to walk down Mabini Street towards Malate, you have two choices. The first is to choose a side in which to walk and then spent an extra 30 minutes travel time telling people why customs won’t let you bring in that fake pistol lighter, or why you just don’t need a watch/belt/knife/drink/buckle etc. Your second, and I am increasingly finding more preferable, choice is to walk down the middle of a street that’s traffic makes our peak hour Parramatta Road look like Australia has ran out of fuel supplies. Eventually however, we reached Jollibee, enjoyed our corned beef and eggs and then tried to formulate a plan for returning to the hotel without the need to go through it all again. Of course, that’s impossible, they actually wait outside Jollibee for you, in the hope that our immigration laws have changed in the last 20 minutes and maybe now you want the replica pistol. One of the areas of most interest to me is domestic Philippine aviation, and Philippine based operators overseas. This lead to model planes becoming one of the Filipino items I have started collecting for display back in Australia, the new found passion then leading me to join the ‘Philippine Die-cast Aircraft Collectors’ (FILDAC) group in Manila. Our first appointment on the trip was to meet FILDAC members Ian San Gabriel, Dick Sy and Carlo Santos at the Shakey’s Pizza outlet on Domestic Road in Pasay City. After examining the map numerous times and considering many different ways of getting there by public transport (none of which were to appealing), we grabbed a private driver outside Mabini Mansion and rode with him after a negotiation got the requested P700 down to P500. DRIVER: Sonny 09185501074 (Very much recommended) Having now spent a rather large portion of my life in and around Manila, I was not surprised to recognise the place when we turned up. Afterall, the Jollibee next door has been a regular first stop since our second trip in 2004. The Philippine heat had already started to bite and I was not feeling hungry, however, no trip to the Philippines is complete without one of those awesome Shakey’s chocolate shakes. The taste of these cannot be explained enough to do them justice, they are comparable to the first honeymoon night for the pleasure received. After meeting my new friends, and the arrival of my borther-inlaw Onyo and his future asawa (we are all hoping anyway :-) ), we all headed on down to Multinational to do some plane photography. Multinational is situated at the southern end of the main runway and is perfect for plane photography, especially when planes are landing from that direction—which alas, they weren’t on this day. The location is also guarded by security guards who will either ignore you, or issue threats of police, security or even airport officials if you do not cease from taking photos on the ‘public street’. They keep referring to the signs that say ‘NO TRESPASSING’ but nothing about photography. As the signs made no mention of it, and because we were on public property, we were prepared for excitable security guards. However there was zero problems, well, at least until we returned on Friday.
KOREA AIR HL-7533 CATHAY PACIFIC ?-XPO * Along with numerous others photographed, but not noted in my book. After a few hours dark clouds were looming on the horizon and the northbound departures were making photos very hard, so we bid farewell to Ian, Dick and Carlo and asked Onyo to endure our strange requests once more and to take us to Pasay Road station for this trips first taste of the Philippine National Railways. By the time of our arrival is was beginning to rain lightly, this slowly increasing until the almighty deluge struck , incredibly, after getting under the station awning. Oh and boy did it rain, and rain, and RAIN. Manila knows how to throw on a rain storm and today was one of the finest I have yet seen. While brief, it managed to flood the railway at Espana (a common spot for such events) and thus give us a few very quiet hours of waiting until any rail movement occurred. But, being the patient gunzels we are, eventually our patience was rewarded with movement. 917 Up works train with CMC-201 DMR01-ITR03-DMR12 (Note that mixing of sets is now common. DMR11 is out with severe damage) DMR07-ITR04-DMR08 DMR01-ITR-DMR02 919 Up Bicol Express (running very late after an earlier derailment enroute to Manila) The dark clouds overhead had finished depositing their load, but had ensured that our camera light meters were telling us to go home. So we thanked all the kind PNR people at Pasay Road for their help and headed back to the car to brave the traffic all the way back to Ermita. Back in the hotel MrX and I ventured over to the 7/11 store to obtain some Tanduay and snack supplies, before heading back to the hotel to meet Phil and Tessie Clark from Samar (Phil is a British ex-pat, now living in the Philippines. He is a model railway fan and is building a layout in Catarman). Also with them were Brian Young and Michael Cacho, local railfans from Manila. Subsequent train, and other, discussions went on till near midnight which, given we only had three hours the night before, was extremely hard to do. MrX piked out, crashing much earlier around 9pm.
ovember 6th 2011
Agggggghhhhh no, not the alarm already. A 5am alarm was set with a plan for a 5.30 departure to Espana with our driver from the day before. But all the best plans appear to always go astray and we didn’t leave the hotel till a quarter to six, which we still expected to get us to Espana by 6.30 and affording us a chance to see the up Binan pass. Afterall, still dark, on a Saturday morning, there can’t be much traffic on the road - RIGHT? WRONG. Some law student thing was occurring and the main road to Espana was packed with people, cars, buses and news crews. While sitting there with the engine humming, but only taking us 10cm on Random occasions, we had bulk opportunity to reflect on the previously learnt lesson that you can never predict the unpredictable Manila roads.
Although it is a safe bet that you can predict utter chaos on EDSA any day/time of the week. Arrival at Espana station was just after 6.30 and the security guard, who later turned out rather nasty, told us that both the Binan and Bicol Express trains had already passed. It soon appeared that this was solely an attempt to rid us from Espana station as the far off sound of a GE locomotive horn at 06.40 signalled the approaching arrival of the passenger from Binan, running slightly late. With darkness still receding and heavy rain clouds still dumping the rest of their overnight load, the resulting photos were not likely to be to great (as evidenced here). 917 Up Binan Passenger Espana 5009 Down works train 06.41 Espana
The next hour was spent photographing ROTEM set on their way to and from Alabang. By now the security guard had started approaching local railfans telling them to cease photographing. We advised them to tell the guard to come and approach us himself. Surprisingly he never did and he decided to take his complaint to the station master, who thankfully told him our presence was ok. Casting some of the most filthy looks our way, he slowly made his way back to his hut. As with Pasay Road the day before, the staff at Espana were incredibly kind and all are a credit to the Philippine National Railways. Most PNR staff have a love and dedication for their nations railways, to work there is still a source of pride for many. This is something that will see PNR grow and again be great. After nearly catching the 08.15 to Tutuban (DMR05-ITR05-DMR09), we decided to leave it one train later and get the 08.45 (DMR08-ITR04-DMR07) to meet up with the rest of the railfans at Tutuban and attempt a yard visit. Arriving at the terminal station we got out and went to take photos of our train, as well as the recent Japanese arrivals. The EMUs were parked over the west end of the yard, near the former port line, while the lovely looking 59 class and some of the CTC/ CMC reminiscent 52 class sat around the platforms. Again security guards asked locals to tell us to stop. Apparently, from what I am told, I have a very angry look on my face all the time and people hesitate to approach me. Nothing can be further from the truth, I am happy to talk to everyone there, but short of plastic surgery—I am unsure how I can fix it :-) Initial enquiries regarding a yard visit did not go well, so we headed to the neighbouring bus terminal for photos. The security guard that is now stationed there allowed us to get photos, although he did seem very hesitant and seemed greatly relieved when we left. As always, the bus drivers wished us to take their photos. It is worth noting, should you be considering going to the Philippines (especially Manila), that there is a severe paranoia about photography amongst all forms of security guard. Around 80% seem to be very negative towards it, 60% fanatically so. Many local photographers get around with small concealable cameras which, if a small amount of thought was put into it, is exactly what a person up to no good would use. Honestly, would some loonatic, hell bent on carrying out something bad, actually walk around with big cameras and lenses, just inviting attention to himself? Not likely. However the security guard would have his orders from his respective boss and, given the ability to instantly replace him with someone else wanting a job, well I suppose they do not wish to try and use the same sort of personal judgement as is often seen in security guards here in Australia. Ultimately, if you are on the companies private property, then you really should abide by what they say ( though enquiries as to why you can’t and how can permission be granted usually helps - eventually). Another curious thing I have noticed in more recent trips is the vast change in security guards when you tell them you are Australian. They can be hostile up to that point and then just instantly be friendly. Maybe they just feel sorry for us :-)
Lunch was then had in the Tutuban Mall, a semi shopping centre and semi market place where many a great bargain can be got. The opportunity was taken to buy two cooking books from National Bookstore in an effort to make the asawa happy when I returned to Aussie shores. Three servings of Chow King’s amazing Siomai (recommended with soy sauce and calamansi) later and we were headed back to Tutuban station where we met two lovely ladies now on the front desk, one of whom gave me the phone number of PNR General Manager Mr Ragragio to ask about photography. I initially was scared to make the phone call, but finally developed the courage to do exactly just that. Mr Ragragio turned out to be one of the most lovely people you could ever wish to meet. Talking to him, even just on the phone, was already one of the greatest honours. He is passionate about his nations railways and what he does. I soon arranged to return on Thursday, while on this day he had railway officer Ms Papa come and show us the trains around the platforms. Again another lovely and friendly person who was a pleasure to meet and talk to.
Japanese 14 Class Sleepers - 1429, 30, 91 Japanese 14 class bi-level sleepers - 14752, 755 Japanese Kiha - 52102, 121* Japanese Kogane - 59506, 510, 511 Japanese EMU - 202107, 120 Japanese EMU - 203107, 113, 119, 114 Japanese (original 12/14 class batch) - Binan set: 7A-2007, 2015, 2029, 2006 2540 Arrived with empty Bicol train for turning at Triangulo. • Was told that Kiha 52121 is the sole example with two engines. With just minutes to spare, we bid farewell to Ms Papa and boarded the Alabang train for a short ride to Blumentritt station which is situated under the LRT1 station of the same name. It was here that we arranged, thanks to my good friend Evelyn Paragas, to meet up with Jen Dizon for a guided trip along the LRT1 to Roosevelt (and slightly beyond) and back down to the southern terminus of Baclaran. This overhead system, the oldest in Manila having been built in the early 80s under the regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos, originally ran only from Baclaran to Monumento. The extension to North Avenue (services only reach Roosevelt at this time) was completed after my 2010 Manila visit. We were to ride 1225+1226+1227 from Baclaran to Roosevelt, and were lucky enough to be granted permission to travel part of the section to North Avenue where the vehicles cross to the southbound line. The ride south back to Baclaran was in the classic 1G set lead by 1048. Other sets noted on the day were: 1010+1053+1052 1028+1029+1030 1031+1032+1033 (crossed on Roosevelt-North EDSA section) 1039+1038+1064 10??+1047+1046 (Possibly 1048) 1061+1062+1063 1101+1106+1115+1108 (stabled at Baclaran) ** The first time I have ever seen one of the 2G sets. Reliability issues compared to the 1G and 3G sets has seen their use limited to peak hour services. 1201+1202+1235+12?? 1205+1206+1207+1208 1213+1214+1215+1216 1217+1218+1219+1220 1221+1222+1223+1224 1233+1234+1246+1245
Following arrival at Baclaran and around 30 minutes of photographing the various trains, oh and Jen, MrX and I had to bid farewell to the tour and head to United Nations station for a trike ride back to the hotel. Actually the trike was a bit of a surprise. I’ve never seen them in Mabini Street, or any of the other streets nearby. So I thought he would decline the ride when I told him where I am going. I’m guessing he was indeed way out of his boundary, but the chance to rip off a foreigner (I was in a hurry and forgot the check price first rule) was to great. Regretfully for him, I would have given him a tip in excess of what he charged as he was quite a nice guy. Oh well. Railway (and Plane) Modellers ight Apart from the ‘Philippine Railway Historical Society’s’ main railway forum, we also have a smaller one for people interested in modelling the railways or other things in the Philippines. http://groups.yahoo.com/ group/Philippine_Modelling For something completely different, we arranged to have a modelling night for all those who were interested. Dinner, snacks and drinks were put on offer, these probably being the bigger drawcard, and we invited locals to come along and hopefully bring along some models. I brought along a Frateschi U8B which is commonly used for doing a PNR related U5B or U10B. I also brought along the New Zealand produced cab fronts that are made to more closely resemble the cabs of PNR. Also coming along was our local ‘Strange Modellers of Universal Trains’ group mascot. MrX brought along a Austrains DL500G ALCo and a Malta Airlines diecast jet. Karel Brouwers brought along some larger scale wheel castings and a beautiful half built wooden signalbox. Phil Clark brought a collection of his HO scale USA based models from his layout in Samar and Roberto Cordoba brought some lovely kit WW2 craft - two of which are now in Sydney and one in Payatas (Brad airlines still having to fund these purchases). Also there on the night was Mark Chua, PNR’s foremost volunteer. A terrific night was had by all, well I hope so anyway, and numerous collectable magazines given to attendees and a small pile donated to the local ‘Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines@.
ovember 7th 2011
Well, November is a good month for workers in the Philippines. Having been relieved that we had missed a public holiday the week prior (All Souls Day), we would obviously stunned to find that the Monday we were there was also a time of rest. This time the public holiday was a Muslim based one, but everyone in Manila celebrates it. So all our tightly organised plans went out the window, as our planned immigration dealing would now have to be moved to Tuesday, straight after our tour of the LRT1 depot in Pasay City. Quick reshuffling of our arrangements saw us heading to V Mall (Greenhills Mall or Vira Mall if you wish) to search for the Hobbistock store that we had proposed going to on Tuesday. Onyo and Zeny turned up early to get us and we headed across town, in pretty good traffic conditions (thank you public holiday) to arrive at V Mall.
On arrival we were greeted with a sight that only a true Aussie could get excited about, for in the carpark was a genuine classic Holden (ISUZU if you must) Gemini. Aussie Holden fans would go crazy over such classics now, especially one that has managed to stay in this mint condition. The security guards were quite bemused by the excitement over an old car - but what would they know. There are some things that truly remain sacred to us and Holden is one of them. This was my first visit to this mall, after all, there are more malls in Manila alone than the country has islands (7107 islands in case your wondering), many of them massive monoliths that still leave you confused after a days exploration. V Mall has got to be one of the worst for confusion, but one of the best for shopping. It has everything from your normal type shopping centres, to what is basically an indoor marketplace. Everything you could want from furniture (check out Kakami Design), handbags and clothes, through to mobile accessories, souvenirs (forget SM Kultura, they are cheaper here and you can bargain), the ever present cheap DVDs and even offers of a passion filled night with one of the many lady boys that come up to you. But the reason we were there was to visit Hobbistock, the foremost shop for model planes in Manila (Lil’s at Trinoma has become very disappointing in this regard). Some guy that we never asked, took it upon himself to guide us all through V Mall until we found the shop in question and we then started the hard task of limiting our amount of purchases so we would not go broke (you see, contrary to popular belief, we don’t have limitless money Down Under). Oh how hard it was to choose, so many beautiful models, but alas, certainly not at a cheaper price than you would expect to pay in Sydney. In fact, you would need to be a fairly well off local to afford to buy the smallest of diecast jet. Now, despite being in the shop for nearly an hour, as we negotiated prices (they wouldn’t discount unless we spent at least P20,000 - but submitted to a cuddle and a photo if we purchased two planes each. The girl that is, not the guy), our guide in the mall still hung patiently outside. By now we were aware that he was hocking DVDs. Despite our best attempts to loose him, he kept on our tail and dragged us to his DVD stand. As he said, “these are genuine DVD’s, very good, genuine from Europe”. Interesting that a seller of genuine DVDs would need to be down a small laneway, hiding away from the mall. Perhaps it was just to add to the intrigue, just to make the whole buying experience, or perhaps he just thought this was my first time and that I was just a stupid ignorant foreigner. Either way, he was a bit miffed when I started asking for endless movies and shows that he didn’t have and only got two off him. Well, its not my fault he didn’t have ‘Boston Legal Series 4’, ‘Caprica’ or the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Adults Edition’. Apparently you are actually expected to buy things you don’t want - heck, go figure. After finally ridding ourselves of our honest DVD selling friend, we descended once more into the cavernous interior of the market section of V Mall, in search of the mythical jeepney model sellers. We soon found them. About 30 stalls were flogging off jeepney models, even some I had not seen before. Again I wanted to go crazy but, again, I had to limit myself due to luggage restrictions and a rapidly dwindling amount of pesos. Here they have every conceivable type of souvenir that you may wish to buy, even some more naughty designs of wooden construction. The Christmas lights, as always, were stunning. With the rest of the day now free, and the advantage of public holiday traffic (what we would call normal peak hour traffic in Sydney), we headed on down to my cousins place in Las Pinas for dinner and some of the much prized, but harder to find, Tanduay White. Good ol Tanduay, always surprising me. This year it was with Coconut and Cappuccino flavoured rums under the ’Borocay Rum’ name. I’m not a cappuccino fan, so that mostly went down the drain so I could keep the bottle, however the coconut one was rather good.
Good ol Lucio Tan, great airline and world beating rum (or rhum as they spell it there). Anyway, I’m getting off track. Sadly dinner was over all to quick and we were on our way back to the hotel again to have a brief chat with Phil and Tessie, before a reasonably long sleep - by Philippine holiday standards.
ovember 8th 2011
This was to be a day of highs and lows for us. It started on a high with an early pick up from the hotel and a drive to Pasay City for a tour of the LRT1 depot, again thanks to LRT’s Evelyn Paragas. After a couple of overcast and cooler days, we were noting a vast increase in temperatures, something that is not much welcome when one is traipsing through railway yards in search of train photos and recording of numbers of historical research. But traipsing we did, and sweat we poured - quite possibly offloading a good 2 litres by the time we struggled back into the office to thank them for their generosity. Sets oted: 1001+1008+1012 1022+1023+1024 1042+1011+1014 1101+1106+1115+1108 1110+1111+1112 1205+1206+1207+1208 Others oted: 1003, 1008, 1010, 1042, 1052, 1053, 1059 1103, 1104, 1105, 1107, 1109 (Globe Advertising-looked disused), 1113, 1114, 1116, 1117, 1120, 1123, 1125 1201 (was noted isolated near the entrance) Damaged/OOS vehicles noted: 1002 1006 1007 1013 (Side damage) 1027 1037 (Rizal Day Bombing) 1054 1236 (North EDSA) 1248 2G/1100 Series: It has been said that the 2G are now limited to Sunday usage only due to serious reliability issues compared to the 1G and 3G. None we noted running while we were there, but that is not conclusive as I have never noted them running on any visit. Some members of the class are absent above. This was likely more due to heat and hurry causing us to miss them, rather than them being in operation. It was a very enjoyable visit, which also included a look at the very interesting control centre of the operation. Sadly I did not get the name of the wonderful chap that greeted us in this room. Maraming salamat to everyone at the LRT1. From here we had to head to Makati to partake in the immigration work for MrX’s lady love. It was the basis for our actual trip to the Philippines and becoming urgent, especially for those who have to endure the sight of them smooching and giving each other pet names all the time. Thankfully marriage puts an end to such gruesome acts in very short order :-)
Arrival in Makati was just prior to lunch, with MrX, now becoming as cynical as the rest of us who have dealt with businesses in the Philippines, decided that it may be better to visit the immigration office first to ensure there has been no more price rises from the P77,000 he was quoted earlier this year. Of course, as you can imagine, the guy on the desk informing MrX that the price was now P95,000, well, it came as quite a surprise. Not a greatly pleasant surprise, as the finance for the whole trip and immigration was tight and already strictly budgeted for. Now, my mate MrX has a Maltese background (that meaning he comes from Malta - not that he made the popular chocolates of a similar name). Malta is famous for giving us pastizzi, Paul Fenech (look him up and watch his great comedy) and very hot tempers. The guy was lucky enough to be treated to some genuine Maltese culture, but I assure you it wasn’t a plate of pastizzi or pictures of ol Paulie. A significant amount of budget rearrangement saw us heading to the BDO bank downstairs to obtain the ridiculously inflated fee and then try to pick our way back through Makati to the sole ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Bank), which the immigration office had previously informed was the sole bank they would accept managers cheques from. Thirty minutes later we find ourselves in a small bank queue, relieved to be out of the heat, albeit temporarily, and awaiting service from the unsuspecting cutie on the desk. This service coming surprisingly quicker than any you will get in an Aussie based branch of their bank. But that’s where the service declined. ANZ Cutie: Can I help you sir. MrX: Yes I wish to get a managers cheque. ANZ: Yes, can I see your account details. MrX: I am not with ANZ. ANZ: I am sorry sir, but we cannot give managers cheques to non-customers since June. MrX: But immigration told me this is where I have to get them? ANZ: Sorry sir, we cannot issue managers cheques. Me: I am a customer in Australia. ANZ: Sorry sir, that does not count. Me: OK, can we open an account with this ANZ. ANZ: For what purpose sir? Me: You are joking right? To get the flamin (Aussie slang for, ahmmm, lovely) cheque. ANZ: Yes sir. Me: Yes sir? Yes sir what? ANZ: It is P400,000 to open an account sir. MrX: P400,000? Despite the monumentally frustrating disappointment, the girl was honoured with a little more cultural display from Malta, sadly again we didn’t have any pastizzi or photos of Paul Fenech. Another long walk back to the corner we were dropped at, and a 20 minute wait to be picked up, allowed for a few transport photos around Makati that I would otherwise not normally be able to get. We then returned to the immigration office from which we had come, filled with even more frustration than when we left. It was here that our friend on the desk now tells us that you can go to any bank, despite what it says on the documents issued to MrX, even the BDO just downstairs - the one we were in around an hour ago getting money out (along with the usual taxes and fees for doing so). MrX went quiet and just walked out. I begged the guy on the desk to please not change the rules again for the rest of the day - I just don’t have time to sit on a inquest. He assured me the rules will not be changed again - HE APPARENTLY LIED. :-( Back down to the BDO, from which we had departed some 80 minutes before, and eventually we were able to obtain a managers cheque there for the requested P95,000 (plus even more taxes and fees) and head back to the office. Here we were all placed on a queue - I took the chance to escape downstairs, obtain some chicken for Onyo, Zeny and myself, as well as some Breezer stress medication (very much recommended, in quantities, when dealing with departments and banks in the Philippines). By the time I returned, Pia was getting her papers looked over and the initial interview. All seemed well and going smooth, with MrX somewhat less agitated and me, well,
you could say I was just ‘Breezed’ along. Which was very opportune, as we were then told that the fee is P95,400, the guy on the desk telling us the wrong amount and thus the cheque not being right. While I searched for a priest who would be able to give last rites to the desk jockey if needed, Pia took MrX back down to the BDO to fix up the cheque (no doubt subject to more taxes and fees) and satisfy immigrations insatiable need for money. Then, faster than expected, the meeting was all over, the priest was cancelled, and we headed back down to the car for a journey to Quezon City for dinner and karaoke with my family there, stopping briefly at the huge Commonwealth Puregold (like a flamin huge Woolworth’s or Coles) for Tanduay 100% (another rarity) for the big event. A delicious meal of Caldarita (Kaldarita if you prefer) and beefsteak was ready and waiting, as was the karaoke machine and all the fast growing collection of nieces and nephews. Amazingly, Mr Bean (I am sure I heard his real name once) was not scared of me anymore. I suppose he finally links uncle to lots and lots of lollies and chocolates. Alas my beautiful god-daughter Tin-Tin, yes partly who my little girl was named after, was still terrified of the big white guy and only come out of hiding when uncle had a lolly in hand. Only to then retreat quickly behind the nearest relative :-) My goodness she is big to, I can’t believe it. By the time she is not scared of me anymore I will not be able to pick her up anyway. So sad that my visits here are so rare due to distance, its always great to see Ning’s (Ana’s) parents, brothers and massive family. My little mate (her name always escapes me, but when remembered I can’t spell it anyway) and of course my hairy little pal George the dog who fiercely protects the place from intruders of human, feline or rodent kinds. Really, I didn’t wish to go back to the hotel. Had we shared much more of the 100% Tanduay that would not have been a problem anyway. God I miss being there :-( Arrival back at the hotel was late, but we still managed a brief catch up with Phil again. Also decided to partake in one of Mabini Mansions P350 massages. A genuine massage mind you, not a “MASSAGE”. Besides, the woman was old enough to be my mum - although there were some concerning moments, which I shall not be going into here. However, after finishing trying to push my spine out my mouth, it lead to the best nights sleep in a while.
ovember 9th 2011
Long days of intense heat was beginning to wear on us and the sleeping in was becoming longer and longer. This mornings alarm was laughed at, my aching body telling me to turn over and go back to sleep - but then it suddenly dawned on me that this was indeed MRT day. Until now, the idea of a tour around the MRT seemed as unlikely as a $20 million Lotto win, or Ana allowing me to bring home a 18 year old souvenir of the female kind :-( Thankfully I was able to contact the very lovely Lysa Blancaflor from the MRT, who was as kind and helpful as she is beautiful. She was able to arrange official permission for us to take MRT photos at selected stations and visit the depot situated, very interestingly, underneath a major shopping mall. The original plan to walk to the LRT was scrapped due to extreme heat and advanced personal dereliction, opting instead to pay a driver P100 to take us to the station so we could hop on the LRT to EDSA and then make our way to MRT Taft station.
During the walk between stations, I was surprised to finally see the Rotonda Hotel location where so many LRT1 photos have been taken before. With an hour to spare, we set up camp here and started shooting numerous 1G and 3G heading to and from the Baclaran terminus (next station). Between the trains we were treated to the endless passing of some of the countries most beautiful women, many of them you would have to imagine could easily win a beauty pageant, or gain a place on television. The beauty even extends to the inside, where a hello will often get you a similar response or, at the very least, a smile. It is interesting to compare this to Australia where a similar good morning would probably gain you a “Get &^%&^^%” remark or, at best, an uptight rolling of the eyes. I’d say around 40 minutes had passed when I noticed some guy stop a few metres from us. I tend to keep an eye on everyone in Manila for any sort of unusual activity and this guy was certainly acting on the unusual side. He was casing us out, checking out what we had and then secretly (or so he thought) signalling to friends to move into certain positions. Watching this unfold, I whispered to MrX to pack his camera away and follow me straight away. We walked into the flowing crowd, past the lead guy and went straight to Taft station, and on to the small mall beyond where we had a good hidden view of anyone following and were in a position to attack them by surprise if they were. Thankfully, they did not follow and we had a brief look in our newly found mall before heading to Taft station to meet Lysa and travel to a few stations, the most impressive of which was Guadalupe, where a bridge of the same name crossed the Pasig River. From Guadalupe you can also make out the right of way of the former Antipolo line below. Its hard to imagine a heavy rail system through there today, even harder to imagine that they allowed it to be removed when it would have proved so very valuable today. After some photos at North Avenue station we broke for lunch (Burger King and a quick walk to Lil’s Hobbyshop to find a disappointing range of planes) before meeting back with Lysa for the much anticipated look at the depot and workshop. Workshop Area: 004, 005, 006, 011, 017, 025, 029, 031, 053, 060, 063 Stabling area 001, 005 (had moved from workshop), 035, 041, 042, 045 (plus numerous others) The location of the depot beneath the mall is fascinating, being well away from the sun makes it vastly more cooler and I am guessing many locals probably don’t realise what exists beneath them as they do their daily shopping. It is also interesting to note the different construction techniques for the line which had a mixture of overhead, ground and underground levels. Where the LRT systems are mostly all elevated, except for a underground section of LRT2 near its outer terminus. The MRT trains themselves actually operate at higher speeds than their LRT counterparts. If the proposed integration of the LRT1 and MRT3 it will be interesting to see how this may change. Since returning to Australia I have been told that 002 and 013 are out of traffic needing repairs. Neither were noted on this trip. Following another fascinating depot tour, Lysa kindly gave us directions to the SM North Mall where we were looking for a reported model shop there (we later found out it was under renovation) and one of them ‘Book Sale’ shops that sell old issues of magazines for next to nothing. These railway and aviation magazines can be got for as low as A$1, when in Australia they are usually upwards of $15. A couple of magazines were purchased for reading on the flight home, however, it as later to work out that we were miles over our luggage limit and they are now residing back in Quezon City awaiting my next trip :-( We met some fun people in the shops of SM North, something that was later marred by the incredible giggling rudeness of the staff in a shop called ‘Jewel’, something I have not come across since the first and last time I ever went into SM
Cavite in 1999. As with the Cavite incident, a letter has been forwarded about the incident. It is not a good look for such a concern as SM malls. After this incident, I returned to the more preferred Trinoma Mall in search of a book to also read on the horrendous overnight flight home. Wishing for something interesting that covered Philippine history, an extended look revealed two gems of direct interest to me in the National Bookstore. The first is a report on major aviation events in the Philippines since the very start of aviation there, this being only around P300 for a good sized book. The second nearly gave cause for an embarrassingly large ‘yippee’ when I actually found a book covering the history of the Jeep/Jeepney in the Philippines. The excitement cooled somewhat by the hefty price tag of around P1000. But still it was a book about jeepneys. It was in colour and full of photos, thus contributing to the cost, it was not very big, but HECK - it was about jeepneys and, as such, it was a must have for the collection. Although I can’t help feeling that book that fully covered the topic would have to be more in the vicinity of 400 pages. Happy, very actually, with my two purchases, and with the SM North experience now far out of mind, I headed over to the Cabalen restaurant to meet up with MrX, Pia, Onyo, Zeny and some of the guys from the ‘Railways and Industrial Heritage Society Philippines’ for a meal and a good catching up. President Karel (President of RIHSPI, not the country - though I bet he would do a better job), Harv and Nick all turned up a while later and a fantastic night had. So enjoyable, with so many laughs, that I went and forgot a previously made donation promise I made to their society :-( However I will make up for that when next I’m there - I promise guys. :-) Sadly, that famous Manila traffic prevented Jaime (RIHSPI Treasurer) from making it to join us. In hindsight, and given I now know there is a chain of these restaurants, I should have chosen somewhere like Mega Mall which would have been far more suitable for all of us. Oh well, you can’t say you don’t learn something new on every Manila trip. We were soon leaving for the hotel again, trying to catch Phil and Tessie Clark one last time before their early morning return to Cataman. As we bid farewell to them for the last time, it started to dawn on me that this wonderful trip was fast approaching for us also. So many new friends, so many old friends, so many different things done and now it was drawing to a close. Sleep came a little harder that night with the thought of the return of my real life fast closing in.
ovember 10th 2011
Being our last truly full day in Manila, the original incentive kicked in again and I was up early and down on the hotel internet straight away. This was almost a daily ritual and, being an Aussie, I usually did it in bare feet - something that really seemed to concern the hotel staff who kept asking me if something was wrong. After about three days of telling them everything is fine, I’m an Aussie, they finally decided to accept this answer and didn’t ask again. Actually I reflected a lot on this on the flight home. Being more old school Aussie, I am pretty open minded and like a joke - indeed am not easily offended but, at the same time, can occasionally comment on topics not acceptable by mainstream humanity today (we have really become a soft bunch). On numerous occasions over the years I have noted, mostly in Manila (and often with security guards or bosses) a great lightening up on visible strictness when you mention you’re an Aussie. Indeed the security guard at the airport (see tomorrow) changed immediately when I answered his question as to where I am from, commenting that he thought I was American (I mean, what difference does that make?).
I’ve had two distinct reactions to me over the years, one is of great dislike and one of great enjoyment. I suppose there has also been a bit of middle ground as well. The old style Aussie larrikin spirit still survives in some of us, we may like to clown around, we may take life a little on the less serious side at times - but I have found many a person who seem to enjoy it. Anyway, we are off track again. Today was the day we organised with Mr Ragragio to visit Tutuban and Tayman. Our booked driver downstairs had got a better offer (buggar), but thankfully there is always a few more and we got ourselves a good deal on a run to Tutuban station. Things actually went smoother than I expected and we found ourselves up in the waiting room of Mr Ragragio’s office. Not an unfamiliar place for me, in 2009 I had been there when it was Mr Andal’s office, although I never actually got to meet him. We were soon taken down to the Transportation Office, where we were introduced to Mr Lito Nierva, someone I have long wished to meet, but sadly never had the chance to. We had a very enjoyable discussion about railways and the PNR before heading down to the yards for a look and some photos. Locomotives 2540 Tayman shed (half repainted Filtrack livery) 5001 Shunting Bicol Express cars (in blue/red livery) 5002 Tayuman Shed (blue/red livery) 5009 Tayuman Shed (blue/red livery) 917 Tayuman shed (all in new blue/gold livery) 918 Tayuman shed (all in new blue/gold livery) 919 Tayuman shed (all in new blue/gold livery) Railcars 52 Class - 122, 127, 137 (all in orange livery, Kiha) 102, 120, 121, 123 (all in blue/white livery, Kiha) 59 Class - 59506, 510, 511 (Kogane) DMR-03 ITR-02 DMR-04 in carriage shed. DMR-11 (Coke truck accident), ITR06 (Grills removed on one side), DMR-10 (Pilot damage) Passenger Cars 7A Class - 2006+2029+2015+2007 (On Binan service) 2008, 2014, 2019 (OOS) ? Unmarked Filtrack 7A 7B Class - 41 (?) (ex Japanese boxcar). 7C Class - 114 (in Filtrack livery), 115 (blue/red livery) 202 Class - 107, 120 (ex Japanese EMUs) 203 Class - 107(?), 113, 114, 119, 121 (ex Japanese EMUs) CMC - 382 (OOS) CTC - 174 (OOS) NR Class - 01, 08, 09 Sleepers - 1429, 1430, 1482, 1489 Bi-level Sleepers - 14735 Freight Vehicles BC - 508, 518, 523, 526, 541, 552, 557, 558, 564, 572, 592, 631 ** Also noted were a few of the dark blue unnumbered BC class from Naga. GC - 378 TF - 71 (plus other three usual attendees) Departmental Use BC-616 CCD-623 CMC-201 Dormatory Car 4wBC
(Converted BC for crew use) (Crane Crew) (Perway work - now loco hauled) (crew) (storage, for preservation)
After an hour and a half, well roughly anyway, we were invited to ride a transfer movement from Tayuman to Caloocan workshops on 919 which needed some treatment to a bad leak. Obviously this is not the sort of offer any self respecting railfan can decline, so we obviously wasted no time in boarding. It was actually 918 and 919, the former to be left at Triangulo with that nights Bicol Express set for turning, a ritual that seems to occur daily. It is presumed the set is again turned on the Naga triangle before its return to Manila. Both MrX and I were renewing our acquaintance with 918, which we had cab ridden around Bicol 18 months prior. There is no greater position to see Manila than up the nose of a big U-Boat. People yelling out and waving to you, nice breeze in the face and the sound of that powerful GE donk right behind you. It was an experience I won’t soon forget and brought back many memories of a similar trip from Alabang to Manila in 2007 when I hung off the front of 5002 with my dear friend Bill. Back then we never realised that would be the only day I would ever ride a PNR train with him before his passing in late 2010. Not far past the never used Solis Station, we noted a guy in the distance walking towards the track. The endless horn blowing not even slightly raising his attention, he just continued on a collision course. We were not 5 metres from him when he walked onto the track itself and we screamed and screamed at him. By some miracle he took notice and jumped back, literally less than a metre from the pilot. I seriously thought this was to be my first fatality, other than a flock of sheep in our Illawarra region, that I was to experience on a train (something I doubt I would have ever got over). Watching the video footage back - it actually does look like he goes under the train. A very scary moment indeed, one that PNR drivers no doubt have to put up with all of the time. Time flies when your having fun. Its an old quote and, sadly, an accurate one. We arrived at Caloocan far sooner than I expected, and not long after where the rebuild of the Caloocan line had come to an end following the change of President. Access to Caloocan workshops is very tight now days and this was reflected in the problems with security on the gate who were demanding a letter. Again, we are greatly indebted to GM Mr Ragragio for his wonderful help. Locomotives 906 (blue/red livery) 915 (blue/red livery) 916 (ex-908, blue/red livery) 919 (blue/gold livery) 920 (blue/red livery, cab removed, Quezon accident victim) 2538 (blue/gold livery) 5003 (blue/red livery) 5005 (blue/red livery) 5006 (blue/red livery) 5007 (blue/gold livery) 5008 (blue/red livery) 5010 (Last locomotive to wear the red/yellow livery) Railcars IC Class - 888 (only member of class, formerly carried bullet nose) Passenger Cars 7C Class - 113 (Carriage remains on stilts and appears used for storage) CAR Class - 1 (Fhiltrack livery in smaller shed) CMC/CTC Class - (None noted here this trip, but one or two may exist out towards old signalbox) NR Class - 03, 04, 07 PC Class - 2-82 (former carriage of President Marcos. Locked and stored here for possible preservation) TA Class - 5 (last of her type in existence) Freight Vehicles
BC-538, 561, 580, 590 One or two unidentifiable open wagons at rear of building Departmental Vehicles Rail cutting carriage still at rear of building. The continuing heat had us extremely relieved to see Onyo and Zeny turn up in the car, the air-conditioning working again after a previous failure, and a group of us piled in for a road trip back to Tutuban to thank Mr Nierva for his help. While having another chat, we were offered the chance to meet GM Mr Ragragio himself. This was something I had been dreaming of and we again returned to his office for a much enjoyed chat about the railways of Australia and the Philippines. What a lovely man he is. He hales from Bicol and has a passion for the railway that served his home region there. The Philippine National Railways could not have found any person who could take the railways into the future better than Mr Ragragio. To say it was an honour to be able to meet him is an understatement. I could have talked to him all day, but knew he had things to do, so after a couple of photos we decided to say our goodbye to the railways for another trip and do some last minute gift shopping over in Tutuban Mall. Our last night in Manila was a somewhat more quiet and solemn one, we were now well aware that tomorrow would see us back in cattle class on a Darwin, then Sydney, bound Jetstar flight. Something that just never appeals to me. We had a very interesting visit from editor Jude Defensor, who works for a local ex-pat travellers magazine. Mr Defensor approached me last year for an article on my Bicol Commuter adventure last year and brought along a copy of the issue it appeared in. The balance of the night following Mr Defensor’s leaving saw us trying to finish up the accumulated Tanduay and food supplies, while trying to pack everything into our bags. Miscalculations of weight found us over our combined 40kg limit by about 6kgs. Numerous tricks were employed to reduce some of this down, Tanduay into lighter bottles, items jammed inside camera bag, all books carried onto jet as reading material. Regardless, we had to leave a large bag behind for picking up on the next visit. By 11pm we were tired and went off to sleep, the 3/4 bottle of Tanduay White and chicken adobo would have to wait for a typical Aussie style breakfast that would make my mate, and religious icon, The Colonel, very proud.
ovember 11th 2011
Obviously didn’t want to wake up this day. But awake we did and I was soon down on the internet doing the daily Facebook duties and sending out many emails of thanks to people. MrX awaited back in the room with the mornings Adobo and Tanduay leftovers and we partook with much vigour, much to Pia’s concern. We soon put her mind at ease, telling her that this is a standard brekkie for Aussies - I think she believed us. Importantly, she has not reported me to my wife :-) Although all packed and ready to go, we wished to all be in the room for a group photo at 11.11 on the 11-11-11. It took some arranging and a last minute panic, but the photo was got, along with the lovely guy who cleaned all the rooms on our floor. This guy has been cleaning at Mabini Mansion for 19 years and I’m pretty sure I remember him from our 2009 stay on the same floor. We both chucked in some of our remaining pesos to help him and his family. It was the least we could do after a week of putting p with two of them strange Aussie folk :-) Farewelling all the foyer staff at Mabini, we first headed to SM Sucat for breakfast and to find a lock for out suitcases (which Jetstar subsequently damaged anyway), before returning to Multinational again for more plane shots. Multinational Location:
The planes were arriving from the Manila Bay end of the runway today, thus allowing for far better shots than we obtained on Saturday. In this direction you can get them landing, as well as during the pre-flight taxi up the runway. Sadly, especially since we were not bothered on Saturday, a security guard approaches us telling us we are not allowed on a public road to plane spot. A rather heated discussion went on until he pointed us to the signs along the fence forbidding trespassing. After another 5 minutes explaining the difference between trespassing and photography, we asked him to call his manager over that he kept referring to. He instead said he was going to call the airport police, which we also were happy for him to do. Strangely, in continued discussion, I happened to mention that we do it all the time in Australia. This, as mentioned earlier in the report, seemed to change things instantly and after a chat about Australia he allowed us to continue. Air Phil Express C3016, C3017 Cathay Pacific B-HOY Cebu Pacific C7253, C7258 Japan Airlines JA602J Malaysian Airlines 9M-MLG Philippine Airlines C3223 C3330, C3332, C3336, C3337 C3431 C7473 C7777 C8168 C8601, C8603, C8606, C8607, C8611, C8614 Philippine Airforce 1256 (?) Saudi Arabian HZ-AIW, HZ-AIY (Both 747s) Singapore Airlines 9V-SQA Zest Airlines 8988, 8993 Private RP-C8300 (Philippines) VH-CRW (Australia - belonging to a jet charter company) With a shift in runway approach, we hung around a short while later to talk to some locals in the trike business, before being taken to NAIA T1 around four hours prior to our 23.00 departure. As always, our collection of model planes raised concern for the people scanning our luggage on entry. Now I could understand model trains, maybe even model cars, but you would think they would recognise model planes in an airport LOL. Passage was otherwise one of the more easier ones and we soon found ourselves in a long queue of people waiting for
Jetstar to open its desk, something that took another 30 minutes. In the interim we got talking to another passenger for our flight, a miner who lives in Darwin and would soon be going to work at Mt Newman in Western Australia. We were sharing noted on our respective Philippines trips all the way from this queue, until we actually boarded the plane. We passed through check in easy, as we did the following x-ray. Incredibly, FOR ONCE, I also missed out by one person copping that random extra check they pull you aside for - making you feel that everyone around suspects you are doing something bad. It was then off to buy a drink, drool over some excellent plane models made out of wood and proceed down towards the gate for another hour of waiting. Strange Aviation: At this point I brought up two questions that have still not be actually answered. 1) Why does Jetstar ask you to open all window shades on take off when Philippine Airlines insist they be closed? Is PAL trying to hide suspect flying abilities?
Why is it ok to bring a bottle of in terminal purchased Coke onto the plane, after x-ray checks etc, for flights from Darwin to Manila, but not Manila to Darwin on the same carrier? Time was passed talking to our Darwin friend and photographing DELTA 747 N661US on its arrival at the terminal. Eventually we dragged our tired cabooses onto a waiting VH-VQP, found out spot in cattle class and prepared ourselves for the hike back to Darwin, with its early morning arrival time. Carefully placing my models at the end of a luggage compartment was a pointless waste of time as one of the more feral of backpackers just threw his odorous backpack straight in hard against it, damaging two kits planes built by my friend Roberto back in Manila. The resultant damage taking a few hours to fix on my return. I must have been tired. Sleep on one of those flying machines really is an unknown commodity, but following an hour of reading about Philippine aviation history (see earlier book mention), I turned off the light and decided to close my eyes a little. Next thing I know I am woken by some light turbulence and find us around 50 minutes from the thriving metropolis of Darwin (and the misery of an early morning customs experience).
Darwin is a nice airport I suppose, only small and probably not all that busy all the time. In the northbound direction, when we didn’t have to reclaim baggage and just went through customs to our next flight, it was really quite good and the break from the plane appreciated. On the way back the first endless queue to await you is that to check your passports and see if you have filled out your forms correctly. This is an endless task for us poor buggers that have not been luck enough to get some fancy e-passport which allowed them to shortcut through some X-ray like machine. ‘E-passport’. If you don’t have something with a flamin ‘e’ or ‘I’ in front of it, you are pretty much looked down upon as some sort of stone age relic from long in the past. Sadly I only had a co-passport (crappy old) and had to wait a good 40 minutes to be served. Of course, MrX had an e-passport and was patiently awaiting outside with both our luggage. Then, of course, we must check in again. But do the international transferring passengers get their own area? Good god no, they can go and wait in line with all the great unwashed, another long queue of domestic and international transferees (is that a word?) who are trying to check in to go to Sydney. So, what was a relaxing break in Darwin on the way up, turned into a frustrating nightmare on the return - whats more, I think the customs guy had an issue with me being over my Tanduay limit by 200ml. 200ml!!! Not 2 litres, I mean 200ml, not enough for one friggin drink, I am sure not enough for Colonel to even bother picking up the glass.
Thankfully he let it slip and I narrowly avoided making newspaper headlines the next day. We rushed a drink and some food at the terminal before getting back onto the exact same jet and prepare ourselves for departure. Of course there were delays, delays, delays. Waiting for paperwork, waiting for some customer who apparently was to busy to be bothered boarding her flight and waiting to be pushed out to taxi. The final leg home was uneventful, apart from my finally succumbing to the use of my credit card to by a tin of drink. I mean really, a credit card to by a can of Pepsi. I suppose with Jetstar and their inflated in flight price guarantee, they can afford any small cost that comes off for the credit card purchases. Eventually we landed back in ’Kingsford Smith Airport’, the holiday officially over as we exited the rear door of the plane and again touch Australian soil, well, Australian tarmac I suppose. Heck - didn’t I sleep that night. ————————————————————————————————————————————— Thanks: Thank you so much to all the people who in some way helped make this trip a truly great one. Lysa Blancaflor (MRT), Jen Dizon (LRTA), Lito Nierva (PNR), Emma Papa (PNR), Evelyn Paragas (LRTA), Jun Ragragio (GM PNR), Brian Young (helping organise railfan day) and all the other rail operation staff and fans who helped organise some part of our trip. Maraming salamat. To my friends Inaho Azuma, Karel Brouwers (RIHSPI), Michael Cacho, Mark Chua, Phil and Tessie Clark, Roberto Cordoba, Ben Exconde, Ian San Gabriel (FILDAC), Rodney Orca, Carlo Santos (FILDAC), Harvey Smoller, Dick Sy (FILDAC) and to the many members of the FILDAC, Philippine National Railways and PhilippineRailways Facebook groups. Also thanks to the many others who’s names I cannot remember from the railfan days.. Thanks also to the stunning Chinese girl on the Jetstar flight out of Manila who made the whole trip worthwhile, and to Lucio Tan for provision of quality beverages to every second store around Manila. Not to forget my brother in law and driver Onyo and his lovely Zeny, and my family there in Manila. ——————————————————————————————————————————————
For further reading/photos and other information.
Philippine Railway Historical Society PRHS Philippine Railway Forum & Archive PRHS Philippine Modelling Forum PRHS Philippine Transportation Forum http://philippine-railways.blogspot.com http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PhilippineRailways http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Philippine_Modelling http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/Philippine_Transportation
For The Facebookers
Philippine ational Railways Philippine ational Railways (Official Page) Philippine Railway Historical Society FILDAC (Philippine Aviation Group)
Brad Peadon (2011) PRHS.Society@gmail.com
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