I AM typing this “Postscript” some 40,000 feet above Russia as our Philippine Airlines flight wings its silken way across the polar route on a 16.5-hour non-stop flight from New York to Manila. We took off from JFK international airport 2:50 a.m. Saturday.
This illustrates what I once said, in answer to a reader asking where my office is, that in this shrinking global village our workplace is wherever our laptop and cellphone are. Political borders for journalists are vanishing.
My workplace this time is PAL’s flight PR127 negotiating the 8,000 nautical miles from JFK to MNL (Manila). I’ll do a little rewrite after getting home, then email the copy to PhilSTAR.
This is one of the new Airbus 350-900 aircraft that PAL has deployed in major destinations, including London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and some regional routes. The MNL-JFK direct line, opened Oct. 29, is the longest leg in the flag carrier’s expanding service network.
A while ago, I walked through the now dimly-lit cabin. Many of the passengers were already wrapped in blankets asleep after partaking of PAL’s famous cuisine, although a number were still watching movies on their screens.
There was a Filipina standing in the galley cradling her baby who has been intermittently crying. She is one of two infants on board, according to flight attendant Hazel German.
Piloting PR127 are Captains Emmanuel “Butch” Generoso and Ricardo Fabregas, assisted by First Officers Iñigo Generoso and Vinni Sanchez. Flight purser is Ingrid Nacpil.
Noticed the two Generoso’s? Yes, Nacpil said they are father and son, which she volunteered is not unusual in PAL where there are even father-daughter tandems. Makes for a closer-knit organization, we surmised.
Passengers on this flight number 30 in Business Class (all seats taken), 21 (out of 24 seats) in Premium Economy, and 199 in Economy. Many of the total 252 passengers are presumably balikbayans escaping the winter and looking forward to the Christmas holidays back home.
Those curious about the difference — especially in fares and amenities — between Economy and Premium Economy (and also Business Class) can get more info at our ManilaMail.com website. Click the PAL link.
The flag carrier’s direct MNL-JFK service meets the demand for a fast swing to the US eastern seaboard, especially for businessmen in a hurry to get things done. The former route using Boeing 777 jets took longer with a technical stop of about an hour in Vancouver, Canada.
Why fly the polar route and not a shorter direct route crossing the US continent and the Pacific Ocean? We asked Generoso, PAL’s A350 chief pilot, when we spotted him coming out of the cockpit for coffee.
The captain, who also piloted the first MNL-JFK flight on Oct. 29, said that the polar route is longer in point of distance, but has the advantage of cutting flying time and fuel costs. PAL president Jimmy Bautista once told us fuel accounts for at least 25 percent of total operating costs.
Generoso said that it pays to ride the prevailing wind current sweeping the North Pole in an easterly direction, and let its push add to the plane’s speed and efficiency in the burning of fuel. Bucking the wind current head-on reaps negative results.
Complementing the efficient and “maasikaso” cabin crew that PAL is known for, the non-stop flight via the polar route gives a much smoother, restful ride. I noticed that there are less turbulent areas encountered this time – unlike in the old route passing Vancouver.
* Why is Duterte attacking the Church?
ONLY President Duterte knows in his heart why he keeps whaling away at the Church every chance he gets – an obsessive behavior that is starting to annoy many of us Catholics.
Whatever he is up to, the pattern of his attacks suggests that he wants to settle a score with the Catholic church or the clergy, its earthly representatives. He won’t win, and he knows it, but obviously he is bent on inflicting serious damage.
But for what purpose?
Early on, Duterte claimed to have been molested by a priest, a certain Falvey at the Ateneo where he had studied in his youth. The name sounds like that of Jesuit Father Mark Falvey, who was accused posthumously in May 2007 of sexually abusing some children in the US.
Is his having been “violated” all that Duterte is smarting from? There could be bigger issues, as indicated by his ridiculing Church bedrock teachings, including the concept of original sin and what he said is God’s stupidity for creating man in his image but allowing him to sin and go astray.
In August, he called the Church a “hypocritical institution,” pointing to some priests’ violating their vows of celibacy and siring children. In citing their sexual indiscretions, is Duterte asking who are they to cast the first stone?
Duterte’s tangling with the Church and its prelates brings to mind King Henry VIII of England, the second Tudor monarch who Wikipedia says is “best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled.”
Wikipedia continues: “His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated.”
One wonders if Duterte is asking for absolution or girding for a showdown — and is merely preparing his case, laying the basis for his attack and defense, as a state prosecutor that he used to be would.
On All Saints’ Day, he said – perhaps in jest — that Christians should display his picture instead of those of the saints. Again probably in jest, he once suggested putting up his own religion (a la Quiboloy?), in some sort of schism if the Church would not forgive him his sins?