Mixed reactions as NAIA Terminal 2 gets Filipino-inspired facelift

April 6, 2023 - 2:00 PM
NAIA Terminal 2
Improvements on Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by the Department of Tourism and Department of Transportation as seen in these screengrabs from DOT's video posted on its Facebook page on April 4, 2023 (DepartmentOfTourism/Facebook)

Will the improvements in a terminal of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport also reflect on the airport’s system?

This was what Filipinos said after the Department of Tourism gave glimpses of the new look of NAIA’s Terminal 2 on Tuesday.

The DOT, in collaboration with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), announced that the terminal’s appearance had been enhanced with Filipino elements such as Solihiya wall panels and locally made furniture.

It also added tourist information centers, a lounging area with a mini garden, new charging stations, and comfortable waiting areas in strategic locations.

The airport assistance desks at the arrival and departure areas were similarly enhanced using local materials.

Terminal 2 was likewise spruced with murals, trees, and plant walls.

According to Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, the initiative aims “to give tourists and travelers alike a reminder of how beautiful our country is and how talented our Filipino workers are.”

“Upon the directive of our President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. to improve the overall tourist experience, the Department of Tourism — Philippines proposed the enhancement and improvement of our gateways, from increasing efficiencies in systems to introducing aesthetics to convey the distinct Filipino brand,” she said in a Facebook post.

Frasco added that the DOT entered into convergence with the DOTr “for the purpose of improving the touchpoints for tourists, lessening the stress of travel, and encouraging a positive experience overall.”

The DOT said that NAIA’s Terminal 2 is one of the identified pilot areas for the government agencies’ airport enhancement convergence program.

This program is being implemented as part of the DOT’s main objective to enhance the overall tourist experience which includes streamlining entry restrictions to the Philippines, liberalizing health and safety protocols, and discussing visa reforms for visitors’ convenience.

The improvement of Terminal 2, which would exclusively serve domestic flights by July, earned mixed reactions from the local online community.

Some were welcoming of the enhancement, saying it evoked a more “welcoming” vibe.

“So true. I was in NAIA last January 2023. Pagbalik ko kahapon, napa-wow ako. Naisip ko kung ano ang ganap dahil napaka-welcoming at para bang may VIP na darating. Napatanong pa ako kung pwede ba maupuan ang mga rattan chairs na [andoon]. Ang sabi ng staff, pwedeng-pwede at para daw ‘yun sa mga passengers,” a Facebook user wrote.

“Let our airports be the best. Better. More inspiring for the Filipinos [and] travelers. I like it,” another online user commented.

“Very classy,” a different Pinoy commented with a smiling-face-with-hearts emoji.

Others, meanwhile, were more critical of the changes as they pointed out the system Filipinos are currently experiencing, especially at the hands of immigration officers.

“Sana mawala ang mga kawatan. Kahit pagandahin [niyo], kung bulok ang patakaran, useless,” wrote a Facebook user.

“Haha, mas maganda [pa] din po kung tatanggalin [‘yung] mga bulok [na] IO [Immigration Officers] and mga staff [na] magnanakaw,” another online user commented.

“Ayusin [niyo] muna [‘yung] mga nakaupo sa Immigration, mas marmi pa matutuwa…” a different Pinoy said.

The comments were in response to the recent fiascos that the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has found itself in.

These include delaying a Pinoy’s overseas flight and asking for her yearbook photo, wherein the bureau was urged to refund tickets amid its offloading of passengers.

READ: ‘Power tripping?’: Pinay traveler misses flight due to lengthy immigration interview | Pinoy traveler’s ‘anti-offloading’ toga outfit goes viral

There were also online allegations of the BI giving lengthy interviews with irrelevant questions to travelers, issuing questionable requests, taking travelers’ items, and extorting money, among others.

ALSO READ: Bureau of Immigration urged to refund flight expenses amid offloading, missed flights | Immigration interview issue inspires humorous, satirical memes, skits

Last week, the Department of Justice said that the BI was revising its immigration procedures following complaints about its alleged strict protocols for outgoing travelers.

BI is an attached agency of the DOJ.

RELATED: How to get cleared for departure, according to the Bureau of Immigration