NAIA’s surot-infested rattan chairs, once its pride, are now gone

Lance Spencer Yu

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NAIA’s surot-infested rattan chairs, once its pride, are now gone

RATTAN. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, then-MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong, and Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco walk beside the newly installed rattan chairs in NAIA Terminal 2.

Screenshot from the DOT Facebook video

The rattan chairs, originally placed in NAIA Terminal 2 to 'showcase Filipino artisanship,' have now been pulled out after they were deemed prone to being infested by bed bugs

After news broke out of passengers reportedly being bitten by bed bugs in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the airport’s operator has been quick to throw out what was once its pride: the rattan chairs that adorned NAIA Terminal 2.

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has now pulled out all of the rattan chairs in Terminal 2 after pest control service providers deemed them to be “prone to infestation,” MIAA Executive Assistant Chris Bendijo said in a Radyo5 interview on Friday, March 1.

The MIAA Media Affairs Division confirmed to Rappler that all rattan chairs have been removed “subject to disinfection.”

How did the chairs, which only arrived last year, go from a symbol of local culture to another bad mark on NAIA?

Earlier, MIAA issued a public apology after a passenger’s post about the bed bugs in the airport went viral. The passenger told Rappler that the bed bugs that bit them were particularly located in the rattan chairs of the arrival side of NAIA Terminal 2.

MIAA has reached out to the passenger and offered to compensate them for their medical expenses.

BED BUGS? In this viral Facebook post, a passenger says they were bitten by bed bugs in seats in NAIA Terminal 2. Used with permission from Facebook user.

Those rattan chairs, which looked beautiful were it not for the creepy crawlers that they hid, are now gone. They were originally added as part of a “new and improved look” for NAIA Terminal 2.

Just last April 2023, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Transportation set about renovating the terminal and adding Filipino-made solihiya lamps and panels, mini-gardens, and “enticing rattan chairs.”

#NAIATerminal2 gets a new look 🥰😍Relish the beauty of the Filipino-inspired look of NAIA T2, where solihiya lamps hang…

Posted by Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Monday, 10 July 2023

In a video by the Department of Tourism, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco is seen lounging around the rattan furniture, along with Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista and then-MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong. A few days later, Frasco posted a photo of her and several children sitting on the rattan seats in Terminal 2 while waiting for their luggage to arrive.

“The craftsmanship and talent of our Filipino furniture makers is truly world class,” the tourism secretary said. “Maka-proud!”

Not even a year later, the same chairs – now infested with bugs – have been pulled out.

BRAND NEW. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, and then-MIAA General Manager Cesar Chiong sit on the rattan chairs in NAIA. Screenshot of video from Christina Garcia Frasco’s Facebook page.
Metal chair infestation

And it’s not just the rattan chairs that are problematic. In January 2023, a public video also showed bed bugs crawling and peeking out of the holes of the metal gang chairs at NAIA Terminal 3.

Bendijo said that they’ve already pulled out the gang chairs as well, which will be sprayed with chemical disinfectants.

Kakaibang species ng surot ang kanilang nakita (They saw a unique kind of bed bug species),” Bendijo said about what their pest control service provider found.

Bendijo also said they’re studying the performance of their pest control and housekeeping service providers. Currently, pest control is done quarterly while housekeeping personnel disinfect chairs daily using alcohol-based disinfectant during the airport’s non-peak hours.

Itong mga service agreement na ito, aaralin po natin kung kailangan bang mas dikit ‘yung interval … para sigurado pong wala po talagang infestation ng ating mga upuan,” he said in the Radyo5 interview.

(We’ll study these service agreements to see if we need to make them more frequent…to really prevent any infestation of our chairs.)

Before this incident, NAIA already suffered from congestion and a lack of seating. But Bendijo said that MIAA has taken steps to ensure that seats will still be available in the terminals even now that several chairs have been pulled out for disinfection. MIAA is also considering procuring more chairs to replace the rattan chairs.

The country’s ailing international airport is due to get a total rehabilitation soon. A consortium led by San Miguel is expected to take over as NAIA’s operator within the next three to six months while MIAA will remain as a regulator. –

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Lance Spencer Yu

Lance Spencer Yu is a multimedia reporter who covers the transportation, tourism, infrastructure, finance, agriculture, and corporate sectors, as well as macroeconomic issues.