I feel I need to share this experience.. not because I am discouraging people from coming (we actually don’t have a choice in the matter because it is the only airport within the vicinity of Cagayan de Oro City).. but because I want to give fair warning to our guests/ investors/travelers coming to CDO and Region 10 that this could happen to them, too, and to request that they should have patience.
It happened because I promised my husband that I would commute to pick him up at the airport today. Why would I commute? Reason #1: since I hardly drive anymore and it’s too expensive and highly impractical for me to rent a van, the only other logical way was for me to commute. Reason #2: there are so many new shuttle services available that it would benefit our business if I knew which one was the most reliable. Reason #3: in our business, it is important to anticipate the worst possible situation and in my book, this is as “worst” as it gets.
And so it was that I chose a shuttle service that had regular departures whether they had one passenger or 10 – Magnum Express. I was their only passenger for that 3:00pm trip. The ride from the city to the Alubijid municipal center was uneventful and I was already thinking of what to do when I would arrive at Laguindingan with much time to spare. Then we stopped at the end of what seemed to be a long traffic lane. My instant thought was: Oh, no! If there’s an accident, this road becomes IMPASSABLE.
We waited for about half an hour, inching forward as the cars in front moved. When an ambulance rushed by from the other direction, my driver finally asked a traffic aide what had happened and was told the shocking news: there was a vehicular accident up ahead, with several casualties.. This is what I have always warned about, to anyone who was willing to listen. It’s either you travel really early to catch your flight or you look for a place to stay near the airport. With this news, if I were a passenger leaving today I would most likely have missed my flight.
Another half hour goes by and we finally reach the part where roadworks are being done. This is actually the part where I expected only light traffic because there’s a team that manages it at the Stop-n-Go signs. At the same time my driver noticed several cars turning onto a dirt road and speculated that it must be a diversion road. Well, with the looks of the stand-still we were facing, I gave him the go-ahead to follow suit. That was 4:00pm. Little did we expect that the decision would take us over an Alubijid road much, much less traveled (literally).
One thing I noticed and admired about my shuttle driver was that he had a good sense of road worthiness and skill. He knew when to give way and when it was safe to forge on ahead without danger of hitting property (his or the other car). Finally we were able to breathe easily once we were free of the woods. But then, I spoke too soon. Just when we thought we were home free we were met by a double bottleneck at the highway’s entrance. Hay, sometimes it’s hard to understand how drivers think.
Fifteen minutes later (~6:15) we spotted the airport, with its parking area lights just coming on. What should have been an easy one-hour drive to pick up my husband at the airport had become three hours.. Imagine if this happened everyday.. Oh, wait! It did! (Apparently, there was another accident on the road yesterday and it had also caused time-consuming traffic just like today.)
But the story doesn’t end there. We boarded a return shuttle back to the city (another company – LAX – not too admirable, though) and we soon found ourselves stuck in the same traffic jam that I was in. We left the airport at 6:30. Slowly but surely, we were able to piece together the different causes to this horrendous traffic. First there were two broken-down trucks on both sides of the road that caused the first part of the stand-still – located at the Laguindingan-Alubijid boundary.. Then another hour later, we finally got to the second part – the accident..
Word had it that a truck coming from Iligan lost its brakes and barreled into six vehicles (one of them shown above), causing a pile-up that was blocking the road and only a few vehicles on both sides were allowed to pass each time.. I said a short prayer as we passed. We finally entered the city by 9:30 and got home at 11:30.
Now, all this hullabaloo and mixed emotions over the delay would not have occurred if this was just an ordinary day and we were traversing an ordinary road. In the first place, the appropriate concern could have been directed to the accident victims more than what actually happened. In the end, the accident had become the obstacle and when we passed it, no thought to the predicament of the victims was spared.
Let this be a lesson we should all learn from. Paging the authorities and powers that be: may I suggest that we revert back to Lumbia until such time that the Laguindingan Airport is fully functional with regards to runway lights, navigation and, most importantly, ROADS?