Arriving Filo Time

An airport nightmare

What is Filo Time? Urban Dictionary actually has a spot on definition:

I say spot on because I’ve been in the Philippines for about two and a half weeks now and I can confidently confirm that the traffic here is insane. From the Manila airport to my dad’s hometown in the north, a place called Orani, Bataan, it’s about 120 kilometres away. Yet, it’s a solid four hour road trip (how?). Three hours if we’re blessed with “good” traffic. But that’s filo time for you.

In saying that, Filipino parents have since then become a walking meme because of this. Sure we’re famously late to parties, but this created a nation of morning people equipped with necessary skills to take on the entire day in front of them. I on the other hand, am the furthest thing away from a morning person. I love a solid sleep in. In provincial life, I’ll wake up at 8am and it’s considered a sleep in here, and that I’ve wasted a day. People are legit getting out of bed at 5am and already starting their daily grind. What. As for the meme, it’s the classic Asian airport meme. In preparation for the crazy traffic awaiting them, Filipino parents will plan to get to the airport well (well) in advance. An example of a conversation between myself and my dad below regarding my flight to the Philippines:

Dad: So your flight is on Sunday morning at 9am right? So get to the airport around 5am and you should be fine.


But I digress. The story I’ve prepared for you today goes completely against this wholesome meme. And is written very informally, very conversationally. From me to you. Enjoy.


Ok so it’s Saturday and my little brother, Edmond and I have a Sunday morning flight to catch at 9am to meet out parents already over there chilling in the excruciating heat, the hottest time of the year. So what do we do? We decide to throw a party Saturday night as a last hurrah. I still think it was a brilliant idea and stand by it. Brilliant idea. Throughout the day, we got the house in order, cleaned, did the laundry and all that Jazz. We were like 70% packed but still had a bit more to do. The plan was full-proof, it was to all-nighter since we both have trouble sleeping upright on the plane. It was a really lit night, everyone went home around 2:30am. Since our mate, Nathan was taking us to the airport, he decided to sleep at mine until it was time to leave. Our flight on the printed itinerary said 9:00am. So Nathan goes to sleep, and I decide to watch an episode before getting some stuff done, to chill out a bit. Agreement was, we leave the house at 6:30am to allow us enough time, because we’re about 20-25 minutes away from the airport.

NEK MINUT… bam! It’s fucking 7:45am.

Nathan’s at my door waking me up. I fucking fell asleep. We had an hour and forty-five minutes to get out of the house and to the airport to make our flight. We still had some packing to do too! Legit it was minute after the last minute over here. Edmond comes out of his room and he fell asleep too! So we are just running around frantic, taking the quickest showers, brushing our teeth, throwing all our crap in the hand carry and luggages, whatever we can see or fit. It was insane.

We leave the house at around 8:15am. Forty-five minutes to go. The anxiety is killing me. Best case scenario it takes us fifteen minutes to get to the airport. We still need to drop our luggage off, luckily I had checked us in online prior so we’d be able to skip the line and some of the admin stuff that takes up more time. We would then need time for the bag check segment and if that all goes smoothly, last but not least is getting through immigration. And then it’s just a matter of us running towards Gate 10 in Terminal 2 to make our damned flight.

On the way to the airport, we were all high key stressed. 8:25am. We’re almost at the airport, not long now. I double checked the boarding pass on my emails that confirmed after online check in, looked at the time and cross checked with the printed itinerary. Holy shit. The boarding pass read, 10:15am flight. To put into context, the printed itinerary which read a 9:00am flight time, was a confirmation document from when we bought the flights last October. The boarding pass was sent after I checked in online yesterday afternoon. So, fingers crossed, the boarding pass is legit and we just gained an hour of time back to make our flight. Hands down, so much anxiety in the air as of this moment.

We arrived at the airport. 8:35am. Head towards the Philippine Airline check in desk, we need to drop our luggage. Mind you, we were in such a rush we just threw whatever we could see that we thought we needed into our hand carry. We had no clue how much everything weighed. Our luggage was already filled to the brim with gifts from my parents and grandparents like spam, race cars, Nike apparel, you name it. Just filo things to bring over. Edmond’s hand carry was the only one that was slightly over, at 8kg. They didn’t care though, luckily. That’s not even the main issue. We thought checking in was a breeze, but boy were we wrong. 8:50am, the lady had checked me in successfully with ease. Got my printed boarding pass and I was ready to go. Edmond on the other hand, they had trouble processing his passport due to some naming convention issue, something to do with his middle name having no space with his first name and it was screwing up the system or something. It read, EDMONDPHILLIP. So that took ages, we just stood there like a bunch of geese waiting for these three help desk people to figure it out while casually getting flash bang thoughts of missing our flight.

Keeping in mind also that boarding time commences one hour before the flight, so in this case, boarding time was at 9:15am. Even scarier, they close the gates at 10:00am. Finally, at the dangerous time of 9:38am, they succeeded in processing Edmond’s passport and handed over his boarding pass.

Okay, stay positive, we have twenty-two minutes to make the flight. We head over the Bag Check area and oh man it is busy. So many people, multiple aisles diverting various lines of people towards the bag checking machines and officers. Our line was barely moving at the start, it was a little worrying. 9:45am. Okay okay, fifteen minutes to go. We got this, hopefully maybe. Still about thirty people in front of us, but we can do this. I believe in us. Suddenly, the line started going quicker. Faster and faster, the efficiency grew and my anxiety started to fall. Edmond and I put our bag and necessary metal items into the tray and walked on over. No problems on my side, got all my stuff pretty easily. I turn around and I see Edmond doesn’t have his bag on him. His bag got diverted towards the officers that check it.

Oh shit. No way, not today. He has to line up amongst four or five other people waiting to explain the contents of his bag. Fuck.

It’s 9:50am. Ten more minutes. About time, it’s Edmond’s turn. Upon closer inspection, the officer determined it was a Lynx deodorant can that incited this. They threw away the can and let us go on our way. 9:53am. I can’t believe this is happening.

Game time, we can do this. Seven minutes to go. We lined up in two separate lines side by side to get through immigration as fast as possible. Being Australian citizens, it’s a whole lot easier for us to get through. A scan of our passport, and a quick glance at a camera, and we’re golden.

We’re through! 9:56am. We have four minutes to make this damn plane. Terminal 2, Gate 10. We power walked the living crap out of our poor hungover legs. Side story, my favourite whisky is Jameson and the airport offers these three very limited edition bottles of the sweet and tasty drink. I really wanted to buy one to share wth my family overseas but not today, today Duty Free was left on seen because we absolutely had no time to waste at all.

9:59am. One minute to go, oh shit. We can see Gate 10 in the distance. We run towards it and join the line. People are just boarding now.

We bloody made it. 10:00am and we’re sitting on the plane, safe and sound. Thank our lucky stars, 10/10 would not do that again.

Long story short, listen to your parents and be at the airport hours and hours before your flight. Or just don’t throw a fucking party the night before you have an international plane to catch.

The end.

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