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Iloilo, my pride?


THE BEEKEEPER | By Pet Melliza |

Definitely, Iloilo has changed. Its old domestic airport has been decommissioned and in lieu of that is a bigger one at the junction of Sta. Barbara and Cabatuan towns, 24 kilometers away from the city.

The new airport is tagged “of international standards” because it can accommodate big planes used for international flights.

Before, travellers walked on the tarmac to their planes. Today, there are airconditioned and lighted tubes connected directly to the doors of planes for convenient ingress and egress of crews and passengers.

In Iloilo, however, those tubes are becoming irrelevant or mere decors because airlines are sadistic, they are thrilled in subjecting passengers to inconvenience in embarking and disembarking – they make them walk on the tarmac regardless of time and weather. When it drizzles or when the sunlight is intolerable, airlines don’t even have the courtesy of offering passengers umbrellas.

The most notorious practicing that trick is Cebu Pacific. We have no idea why it torments its passengers by denying them the use of the tubes.

***

If you have a wi-fi ready PC, you won’t get bored waiting at the passenger lounge of the Cebu Airport. All you need to do is just take a seat, turn on your computer and pick from the many servers that offer free internet access. The two major telecommunication companies and cafeterias have installed routers for free use.

The NAIA Centennial Terminal even goes farther. On top of providing free internet access, it also has special desks with electrical connections for internet users to recharge their computers or cellphones with.

The NAIA Terminal 2 has none of the amenities that Cebu and NAIA Centennial terminals offer for free to travellers.

The New Iloilo Terminal has none of those. It has no recharging station for cellphones and computers. The available wi-fi signals are owned by individual coffee shops and restos which require the minimum amount of purchase worth P150 to give the privilege to any net user.

Our leaders are billing Iloilo as premier place of destination. But all that Iloilo has to give foreign and domestic travellers as their first impression of the place – a very crucial one at that – is the absence of basic amenities in communication like free wi-fi access and free recharging facilities that the real tourist destinations like Cebu and Davao do offer to air travellers.

That completes the feat of Rep. Jerry Treñas and Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in billing Iloilo as “premier city”, “Queen City of the South”, “the next big thing”, “Iloilo my city, my pride”, ad nauseam.

These platitudes that our two heroes above shower on Iloilo City are mere rhetorics. Lawyer Tony Oposa, a recipient of international awards for his advocacy for ecology,  can only scratch his head. “How can Iloilo become premier city when it cannot even establish a liquid waste treatment facility?” he muses at the sewage system in the “premier city” which spews untreated wastes directly into the Iloilo River that he calls “biggest septic tank in the Philippines, next only to Pasig”.

Iloilo City, “the next big thing” or the “Queen City of the South Once More” that Rep. Treñas bruits around? Lawyer Nory Posecion takes that with a smirk. Its primitive system of solid waste disposal disproves that. Under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, all local government units by 2005 are supposed to shut down open dumpsites and operate “sanitary landfills”.

Treñas never attended to that in his nine years as mayor. He left the mayoralty in 2010 replete with damage and mandamus suits from a group of minors for the environmental damage caused by the 26-hectare open dumpsite at Calajunan, Mandurriao.

The stench from the dumpsites pollutes the air within its two-kilometre radius. Its seepage already contaminated deep wells with heavy metals like lead and cadmium which damage the brain.

“We will reach the stage where many people living near the dumpsite have deformed or damaged brains,” warns Posecion, incidentally, one of the lawyers who volunteered as counsel of the minor complainants.

Iloilo City “my pride”? Its two abattoirs are neither Double “A” nor accredited by the National Meat Inspection Service for non-compliance with sanitary and hygiene standards.*

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