Most of the time, an urban roamer like myself confines himself in his travels in and around the city. But there are occasions that I get to go beyond my “natural borders” like my recent vacation abroad. (which by itself is another story) That particular round trip onboard Cebu Pacific has found me boarding and disembarking at the youngest terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. otherwise known as NAIA’s Terminal 3. Quite frankly, this would be the first time I’ll be able to fully go around and explore a NAIA airport, as my previous airport experiences were limited to the Manila Domestic Airport.
Terminal 3 by itself has a long and “colorful” history ever since building for it began in around 1997. It was supposed to open in around 2002 if not for the long and costly litigation that arose from the original contract for the building terminal which was deemed “onerous” by the Philippine government, not to mention the repairs that had to be done throughout the time. The case was eventually won by the Philippine government a few months ago in Singapore court, as well as in Washington previously; the government hopes to be able to fully utilize the terminal by year-end.
For now, the only 2 carriers servicing the terminal are Cebu Pacific (the first airline to use Terminal 3 in 2008) and Airphilexpress. The present underutilization of Terminal 3 shows when you see the number of check-in counters that are yet to be filled up. I read it is supposed to be the largest terminal of NAIA so I hope more airline carriers get to use it in the future.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the architecture of the terminal building: international in style but not much garish in design. I personally like high ceilings and windows at the top that provide natural light in daytime.
Another advantage of NAIA 3 is how easily accessible it is to public transportation. You can just ride a jeep that plies along the Nichols/Villamor area (Villamor Air Base itself is near Terminal 3) drop off at the wide parking area outside the terminal and just walk to the building, perfect for those who are on a budget and/or have light luggage to bring to a trip. There are also shuttle services that go around the NAIA Loop (Domestic Airport and Terminals 1 and 2) as well as nearby areas like Baclaran and EDSA-Taft Avenue intersection for a minimal fee.
It’s also good to know there are a number of merchants and duty-free shops already set up in the building, though there’s not much variety there yet.
But for smokers, at least there’s a dedicated smoker’s lounge.
I believe this is the only terminal in the NAIA complex that has a bust dedicated to the person named after it: Ninoy Aquino. Though it’s kinda odd to place that bust there and not in the premises of the original NAIA Terminal which is now Terminal 1, in which premises he was assassinated.
I also like that the terminal has a good lounge area, not to mention areas that provide good views for those who have planespotting indicated as a leisure activity of sorts.
One beef I have with Terminal 3 though is the long walk from the aerobridge to the immigration counter. While there were walkalators in place, they are not functioning at the time. Something of an inconvience especially if you’re one of those travelers who don’t have much energy to walk anymore with whatever hand-carried luggage you have.
Overall though, I believe in the potential NAIA Terminal 3 in being an international airport we can all be proud of. After all, the airport is the first impression one gets of a city and of a country as a whole. I hope the airport authorities fix the things needed to be fixed (*cough* walkalators *cough*) and further improve the facilities to make it a competitive and world-class airport terminal that the Philippines deserves.
© The Urban Roamer