Thinking of Christmas travel, surrounded by the jingles in the mall, my friends and I imagine ourselves outside the hustle and bustle of Manila. We begin planning out where to go, and when, how to meet up after doing our family chores.
We hit upon Siargao, beaches, diving, surfing, and some nature tripping galore. Yesterday, I take the plan a step further by going to PAL's ticketing office in Makati. After some discussion on an upcoming trip to Cebu, I ask the helpful information desk rep what would be the fastest way to get to Siargao. Her reply:
"Where is that?"
After I tell her it's located in Mindanao, near Surigao, she says: "I don't know where that is."
The situation doesn't truly hit me until I turn away from her counter to stumble into the Mabuhay Miles waiting room, more in a daze and not having eaten breakfast that morning. She doesn't know? She works for PAL, a primary agent in the tourism infrastructure in this country, and she doesn't know where an up and coming tourist destination is. Couldn't she have said, "I will check it out for you" or "let me find someone who can help you with the routes" or something a little more practical.
I vent some of my pissed-off-at-the-state-of-affairs with the Mabuhay Miles person, who kindly gives me the complaint letter form plus the name of the General Manager (although that person will more likely hear from me about how the MM customer service phone number is perpetually busy, the emails I've sent are never answered, and I waited two hours yesterday to speak to the agent. Not eating breakfast is a bad thing for my temper. All the minor irritants get blown up into a massive storm-in-a-teacup.).
Yesterday afternoon I googled Siargao travel websites and found a few options for the upcoming trip, including bypassing PAL altogether. Asian Spirit flies to Surigao then a bus ride and ferry to Siargao. Or I could fly to Cebu and do a boat trip over.
Of course if my pocketbook begins to unravel by November, I'll be staying in the city, close the doors, turn off the lights and do a dvd marathon for the week between Christmas and New Years.