MANILA -- Vacationers who traveled to the provinces for the 2022 Holy Week break began returning to Metro Manila on Black Saturday, some to avoid the anticipated influx of people starting on Easter Sunday.
At the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX), Manila-based driver Allan Manalo rode a bus with his 10-year-old son to their hometown in San Jose, Batangas, after a 2-day stay with relatives of his late wife in Nueva Ecija.
Manalo said this was their first time to go on vacation there for 2 years since the pandemic began, a common story for many travelers this break.
“Gustong-gusto itong makita ng lolo niya. Masaya ring bakasyon,” he said, pointing to his kid.
(His grandpa wants to see him. The vacation was fun.)
He added the hot weather already made the trip uncomfortable, and expects it to be more so with additional people in public transport.
“Kung makikipagsabayan ako bukas, sobra nang sikip. Kawawa naman ‘yong bata. Noong lumuwas kami papuntang Nueva Ecija, kawawa na ito, kasi matagal nang naghihintay, napakakapal ng tao.”
(It would be very packed if I insist on going home tomorrow. Poor kid, when we were off to Nueva Ecija, it was really bad for him, because of the long wait and the high volume of people.)
The PITX monitored more than 27,300 people in foot traffic at the terminal on Saturday morning.
PITX customer service personnel said this was closer to the number of passengers there on regular days rather than the spike of people before the break, which reached up to 100,000 people.
Many traveling at the terminal on Saturday were workers going to and from Metro Manila, according to the customer service staff.
There are fewer travelers during Black Saturday in the Araneta City Bus Station in Cubao, Quezon City, which only caters to trips to Pampanga and Batangas provinces.
Dispatchers expect an uptick in trips come Easter Sunday.
DOMESTIC FLYERS NEARING PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS
Meanwhile, a number of passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) also flew back from the provinces just before the return rush.
Irissa Medina and her 2 friends spent the Holy Week in Palawan for a religious activity before returning to Manila via NAIA Terminal 3 on Saturday.
“Masaya. Nakapag-meditate kami kahit papano, malayo sa siyudad,” she said.
(It was fun. Somehow, we were able to meditate far away from the city.)
“Mahal na po ang flight para bukas, kaya ngayon na po kami nag-book.”
(Flights would be expensive tomorrow, so we booked for today.)
Meanwhile, at the NAIA Domestic Terminal 4, some travelers are just now flying to the provinces.
This would be Aina Silverio and her family’s first trip back home to Antique in 4 years.
She and her siblings had been unable to fly earlier during Holy Week because of work.
“Nagkaroon din po ng pandemic, saka mahirap maraming passes na kailangan asikasuhin bago makauwi. Mas maluwag na ‘di katulad dati,” she said.
(There was the pandemic, and there are so many passes to process before going home. Things were a lot looser now compared to before.)
The average number of arriving and departing passengers at the NAIA from April 12 to 15 is nearly 53,000, according to data from the Manila International Airport Authority.
This is nearly 16 percent less than the average number of passengers in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic
However, it is over 900% more than in 2021, when local travel had been limited by various restrictions.
Security personnel and police stationed in the various airports and terminals reported no untoward incidents during the break.