Monday, August 06, 2007

The Old Davao Airport

It's been awhile since I've gotten on a bicycle (and hence the absence of biking posts.) Yesterday seemed the right time to start making up for it. The skies were overcast and held a hint of drizzle, just the perfect weather for a long ride.

I originally intended to go only as far as DAMOSA, Davao's new outsourcing center, but once there, the distance seemed too short. So I proceeded to the old Davao Airport in Sasa, another six kilometers away.

For years, the Old Davao Airport had served as the main terminal for the city and other nearby parts. That was until December 2003 when operations moved to the new airport in Buhangin.

I have so many memories of the place, many of them in praying for the last remaining seat in the waitlist. But I can't really fault the airport for that; instead the blame should go to the very bureaucratic and very inefficient Philippine Airlines of those days. But I digress.

Honestly, I was expecting the place to be deserted, but it wasn't. Certainly it wasn't as busy as before, and in the air I felt a touch of sadness for its bygone glory, but now, the premises have been converted into an activity center of sorts.

Yesterday, a scooter club -- yes, they were scooters, despite any insistence to call them motorcycles -- turned the old parking lot into a racetrack. Weekend riders revved up their scooters and, well, scooted around, mufflers sputtering loudly in the air. It all looked a little silly, actually.

Things are a far cry from the old days, but there's still life in the airport area, it seems. I saw young soldiers, probably heading off for their assignments, leading me to think that it's now been converted into a military terminal. On the whole, roadside sari-sari stores dominate the scene

Ah, sic transit gloria mundi!

Seems to me, though, the place deserves a bit more respect than its getting now. The old Davao Airport was witness to two major tragedies in recent memory: the bombing on March 4, 2003, and an Air Philippines crash on April 19, 2000. There ought to be a memorial there. Instead, they've just let the flowers grow over. (See also the Mindanews feature on the airport.)

On the return trip, I took R. Castillo, leading back to Agdao. All in all, a 20-km. ride. Not bad for these old bones.