MULTIMEDIA

‘Paano makakauwi?’ Fate of stranded passengers outside NAIA remains up in the air

Text and photos by George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2020 06:03 AM

With COVID-19 quarantine guidelines still in effect, some people in Metro Manila waiting for provincial flights were forced to take shelter under an elevated expressway outside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for several days due to canceled trips.

After news broke of their plight and several days after Michelle Silvertino’s death, they were relocated by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police to the Villamor Elementary School, their temporary shelter until flights are available.

Here are some those people’s stories.

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Esmael, 26, is a construction worker in Pasay City, who hails from Buluan town, Maguindanao. He, along with his companions, arrived at the airport last June 10, hoping to get a flight back home.

“Nu’ng may narinig kami dito na lahat ng stranded, na may ticket at hindi nakaalis, sabi nila papauwiin daw. Nagpunta kami du’n sa Terminal 3, sa baba ng skyway. Tapos pinalipat kami dito kasi dito daw ang safe.”

Together with Esmael, Aliman, 23, is a construction worker from the same site. He met his girlfriend, Lowella, in Luneta a few months back, who is now 2 months pregnant.

“Dumating ’yan dito ng binata, pero aalis na may asawa,” shares Esmael, of his soft-spoken friend.

Lowella, 23, is looking for work as domestic helper. She was working on her papers to go to Saudi Arabia. She went to Manila last November 3 to complete employment requirements, and stayed at the agency’s accommodation facility.

“Nag-back out lang po ako kasi sabi nila na-lockdown. June 9 sana ang flight namin pabalik ng probinsya. Tapos na-cancel. Nag-aantay kaming maka-tiyempo na magka-flight kami ulit. Hanggang ngayon, nandito pa rin kami. Nag-aantay pa rin kami kung kelan kami magkaka-flight ulit.”

Joy, 24, is an worker from Davao. She left the country in 2017, as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia. She returned to the Philippines in 2019 after her contract expired. This year, she was applying to fly to Qatar to work once again, until the pandemic hit and put everything to a halt.

“June 9 kasi ang flight ko, tapos na-cancel. Davao. ’Pag alis namin ng accommodation namin, mayroon kaming letra na pinirmahan na hindi na kami pwede bumalik du’n sa accommodation namin. So no choice kami, wala naman kaming kamag-anak na pwedeng puntahan. Sabi nila cancel daw ang flight tapos mare-rebook daw ng June 30. Sabi nila balik na lang kayo, sabi ko wala naman kaming matitirhan.”

Aldwyn (21), and Nessa May (20), both incoming second-year university students in Manila, are two of the stranded passengers in the airport. Aldwyn hails from General Santos while his girlfriend, Nessa May, is from Lanao del Norte. Along with other students, the couple stayed at a dorm near their school, but opted to go home to the province because of the lack of budget for their subsistence.

“Pinilit na lang naming umuwi kasi nahihirapan kami sa bayad ng dorm at saka sa kuryente. Sabi nga ni Pangulong Duterte na kahit bawal ngang singilin, pero ang nahihirapan ’yung may-ari ng dorm namin. Kasi nga wala din s’yang ibang income. ’Pag pinilit pa namin mag-stay du’n, s’ya na ’yung walang pambayad ng kuryente at tubig namin.”

The couple secured a ticket scheduled to fly out last June 10, but got cancelled and was re-scheduled to June 14.

“Gusto sana namin hanap na lang sila ng way na ’wag nang i-cancel. Naiintindihan naman namin na maraming kina-cancel. Sana makinig din sila sa mga na-stranded kasi s’yempre hindi naman lahat may dalang extrang pera. Sana makauwi na kami.”

Noraisa, 28, is a worker from General Santos who was bound for Saudi Arabia. It was her first time supposedly in that country but had already worked in Jordan. She went to Manila last January 20 to arrange her papers. Upon learning that there was no way that their trip was going to push through, she proceeded to NAIA Terminal 3 hoping to go back home to GenSan.

“Pagdating namin du’n noongb in-announce nila na may flight, pumunta kami du’n sa loob sa may security. Tapos tiningnan nila ’yung ticket namin kung kailan ’yung flight. Dapat ’yung ticket ko, nu’ng June 7 (ang flight), na-cancel s’ya. Pina-rebook ko s’ya ng June 15. Tapos sabi nila, maka-cancel na naman daw. Pina-rebook ko s’ya ng July 2. ’Yung iba nakakauwi na, na kaparehas lang na naka-cancel ang flight. Dapat maging fair sila.”

Tutilaga, 38, is a worker who was also supposed to fly to Saudi. A first-time applicant, she shares that she along with Noraisa decided to leave the accommodation provided by their agency out of courtesy to the caretaker.

“Pwede naman kami bumalik du’n sa tinutuluyan namin, kaya lang ’yung gastos, kawawa naman s’ya. Kaya namin gustong umuwi, kasi nahirapan talaga ’yung tinutuluyan namin.” She also shares that her father, who lives with her in General Santos, is already worried.

“’Yung tatay ko umiiyak na s’ya kasi matanda na, baka daw di ko na abutan. Sabi ko sa kaniya, kahit alam namin na na-cancel ’yung ticket namin pumunta kami rito, baka sakali tulungan kami ng pangulo na makaalis kami dito. Natatakot kami na ma-lockdown na naman ulit, ano’ng gagawin namin? Mahirap du’n sa amin. Di kami mapapadalhan ng pera dito kasi walang trabaho du’n, kahit pamasada wala.”

“Si pangulo lang ang gusto namin makatulong sa amin. Mahal namin ang pangulo, sana tulungan mo kami dito, para makauwi na kami sa pamilya. Sana maintindihan niya ’yung nangyari samin dito, bago n’ya ipa-lockdown ulit, sana makauwi lahat ng mga tao dito. Kawawa naman mga pamilya namin.”

Krisjane, 27, is a domestic helper who hails from Davao City. She shares that all her papers are complete and was only waiting for the schedule of her flight to Qatar, until COVID-19 struck. She used to work as a domestic helper in Kuwait from May 2017 to July 2019. Since arriving at the airport on June 11, her scheduled flight has been cancelled four times already. Along with her mother, an 11-year-old son and a 7-year-old daughter, they are waiting for her back home.

“Gusto na nila akong makauwi, ganito nga ang nangyari, lockdown. Paano makakauwi? Sana makauwi na kami kasi nahihirapan na kami dito, mag-four months na kami dito sa Maynila. Mahirap ang buhay dito, sa amin pa ang lahat ng gastusin.”

Norhaya, 27, is a worker was supposed to go to Saudi Arabia. She went to Manila last November 26 to accomplish the requirements for her application but got locked down as well. She lives with her family in Davao City.