Of Bomb Scares and the Late Police Officers


My eardrums started to notice the irritating sound coming from my phone’s alarm clock at 2:00 am. I opened my eyes and remembered that it was my last day in Cagayan de Oro City. Our flight scheduled was at 6:10 in the morning. My friends and I agreed the night before that we needed to be in the airport 2 hours before our flight just to be on the safe side.

I have not packed my things yet. I fell asleep while surfing the net 2 hours prior. After checking my e-mails to see if there are latest hotel deals available online to cover for my next trips, I immediately tucked Lenny inside my bag along with my other things. At 3:00 am, we bade goodbye to Wynsum’s parents and started to wait for a cab. This side of CDO was still dead to the world. Except for a bus that passed by on its way to Iligan, we were the only source of noise on that sleeping town. A cab finally arrived after 19 minutes. The cab driver told us that it would cost us P300. We immediately agreed to this.

The Lumbia Airport of Cagayan de Oro is located in the highlands of the city. On normal days, it will take 45 minutes or more to go to/from the airport due to the heavy flow of traffic in that area. Somebody told me that the construction of a flyover in the area was the culprit so the route of the vehicles was changed. It only took the cab driver 16 minutes to drive us to the airport. The cold highland breeze immediately greeted us and seeped through our bare skin when we stepped out of the cab. I was glad I wore jeans. My two companions, Wynsum and Daut, wore shorts and complained how cold it was.

Pre-Departure area Lumbia Airport CDOwith Wynsum and Daut

The Late Police Officers

On any given occasion, the airport check-in counters must open 2 hours before any scheduled flights. Zest Air had a scheduled flight that flies out of CDO at 5:30am that day. So the airport’s doors must be open on or before 3:30 am, right? Wrong.

After arriving in the airport, a long line of passengers greeted us. The airport’s doors were still not open. The driveway of the departure area became too narrow because of the passengers. By 3:50 am, the staff of Zest Air emerged from the doors and started asking for their passengers IT and IDs. I thought that what Zest Air did was a clever move. Since the passengers have no way of reaching the check in counters, their agents brought the check in counter to the passengers!

Pre-Departure Lumbia Airport, Cagayan de Oro CityLumbia Airport still closed

Now you must be wondering what caused this hassle and delay. We overheard the security guards from where we were standing that the police officers were late but they were already changing clothes and on their way. How convenient, noh? 😉

I never understood the connection between the airport doors and the police officers. I figured it must have something to do with the airport’s x-ray machine. Then I learned from my Pa that police officers are in charge of these matters.

Thirty minutes after withstanding Cagayan de Oro’s early morning coldness, the airport doors opened. The line started to move slowly and passengers got inside the airport building.

The False Alarm Terrorist Attack

When we entered the departure area of the Lumbia Airport in Cagayan de Oro City, the guards did not check our IT and IDs. The security guard had to control the number of passengers that entered probably to prevent a stampede from happening. After entering the main door, we lined up again to pass through another door where the X-ray machine and the body scanner were located.

It is the practice of airports here in the Philippines where you have to remove your footwear aside from any metal objects from your body before passing through the body scanner. Everything else must go into the x-ray machine. Wynsum was in front of me and Daut was behind me. When it was our turn to place our things in the conveyor, Wynsum noticed that the person in front of her left a brown leather briefcase bag in the conveyor then went back to the door where we came from. I then heard my friend say “Asa man to sya?

It must be because of those action movies but my brain suddenly popped. Thoughts were running my mind and I started panicking. “What if?” was the question that started racing through my brain cells. As if we read each other’s minds, Wynsum and I hurriedly placed our things in the conveyor and went to the body scanner, eyes fixed on the machine waiting for our things to appear on the other side. Then, the worse thing happened.

The police officer who was in charge of viewing the x-ray machine stood up and went to the conveyor. At the back of my mind, I was saying “Please ayaw lang tawn ang leather bag.” Then he asked us “Kang kinsa ni sya?” while pointing at the brown leather bag. My heart started beating fast. We told the police officer that the person who owns the bag left then we hurriedly took our bags and other things and walked away from the area.

Lumbia Airport CDOstayed at the right corner of the Cebu Pacific counter to hide 😆

I heard the officer call his companion and asked them to check the bag. My heart was already pounding. I said to myself that I had to get as far away as possible from the x-ray machine. Since the airport was small, I went to the farthest end of the room, where Cebu Pacific’s check in counter was located. I realized that Wynsum and Daut were still near the x-ray machine and was probably looking for me. I could not move from where I was standing. I scanned their faces in a sea of passengers then asked them to join me from where I was standing when I spotted them.

We told Daut what happened and he told us that the owner of the bag came back. We had to repeat what we said to make sure he understood us. He reassured us that everything was fine, that the owner of the bag came back and that he saw it with his own two eyes. Whew! That was close.

My heart’s beating started to slow down. I told them I quickly left the area in case the bag explodes. Hahaha. As if that would help. At the back of my head, I knew that if that was a real bomb, I doubt that we would survive it. However, that also depends on the power of the explosion. I kind of laughed at myself and thought of how silly I could be. I was actually thinking back then that I would prefer an injury from an explosion at a far distance rather than directly getting an injury from one causing my body parts to be scattered all over or for the shrapnel of the bomb to pierce through my body, which was why I left that area quickly. LOL.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Other than that false alarm, waiting for our flight back to Cebu went smoothly. We landed safely at the Mactan–Cebu International Airport and a beaming sun greeted us.

I was so relieved that nothing bad happened to us. What happened on that airport reminded me that we should not be complacent and that we must pay attention to what is happening around us.

Although that incident almost gave me a heart attack, it won’t stop me from following my travelling feet’s itch 😉



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