My ID: 1:22pm, Wednesday, 23 March 2005: Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Philippine Airlines flight PR502 from Singapore
The tone was set for my Initial Descent into the Philippines before we had even approached Manila. About two hours into my flight from Singapore, where I had just transited from the United States, the Philippine Airlines flight attendant serving my section pulled me aside and asked a question: “Do you play basketball in the PBA?”
Of course, I had no idea what that was (it turns out it’s the Philippine Basketball Association), so I politely suggested that while I do play basketball, I was not a PBA participant. The middle-aged woman apologized unnecessarily, saying that I looked like I played basketball (perhaps my bald head at the time suggested as much), and asked if I needed anything else to make my flight more enjoyable. I settled for some mango juice and reclined my way into Manila.
The pleasant exchange taught me a few things about what to expect upon my arrival, which turned out to be true. The people were not shy, yet very humble, warm, polite and wanted to make me feel welcome. While this can be expected in the hospitality industry, in the Philippines I felt it from everyone, and it was genuine (and perhaps this is why the hospitality industry around the world employs so many people from the Philippines). I knew the visit would be good, and indeed it was.