While the holding of big sports events may not yet be in the offing, several Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players and coaches, specifically from Bulacan and Pampanga, yesterday expressed high hopes that San Miguel Corporation’s P734-billion new Manila International Airport project in Bulakan town as part of the country’s post-Covid-19 recovery, will give Philippine sports a big shot in the arm.
“It will definitely be a big help for sports. We already have the biggest sports venue in Philippine Sports Arena. With the new airport, we can now host any major local and even international sporting event,” said Bocaue, Bulacan native Jonas Villanueva, coach for the Bataan Risers in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) and former player for the San Miguel Beer and Purefoods teams in the PBA.
His fellow Bocaue native Billy Mamaril, a player for San Miguel Beer, believes that the airport will promote sports tourism.
“Having an airport in Central Luzon will boost all sectors. Sports and sports entertainment, in general, will be elevated because the ease of traveling by air will be easier. Having games abroad and having foreign athletes compete in the Philippines will be even more possible. Even fans from abroad could come here to watch major sports events. It will make us Filipinos very proud,” Mamaril said.
Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok coach Chito Victolero, who hails from Sta. Maria town, said the new airport could eventually make Bulacan province a go-to place for sporting events.
“Kasi nga pag ma-build yung economy then magkaroon ng maraming gyms and sports facilities, then there will be more sports programs, especially basketball. I think maka-build kami ng coliseum dito that will attract the big leagues like the PBA na magkaroon ng out-of-town game or regular game sa province namin,” Victolero said.
They agree that the Bulakan Airport will not only a have a beneficial effect on sports, it can also improve the standard of living of locals through the jobs that will be created during its construction and through its actual operations. Jobs will also be generated at its adjacent development, the Bulacan Airport City economic zone.
“The airport will boost the economic growth of the area. People will be more willing to do business in the Central Luzon district because traffic and overpopulation will be at a minimum compared to Manila. At the same time, with employment for thousands of people, residents of the area will have more spending capability, and that will improve the local economy,” Mamaril said.
Magnolia Hotshots’ Ian Sangalang meanwhile said that people from his hometown Pampanga will no longer need to go to Manila to look for opportunities.
“Siyempre, new airport means new job openings, tapos marami ring mga food chains dyan na magbubukas panigurado. Malapit lang yung Pampanga sa Bulacan, so yung mga kababayan namin hindi na kailangan pumunta ng Manila dahil mas may magandang opportunity na,” the Magnolia forward said.
Barangay Ginebra’s Arthur de la Cruz, who traces his roots to Hagonoy, opined: “Makakatulong ang airport na ito dahil magkakahanap-buhay ang karamihan sa negosyo na nagsara dahil sa pandemic. Madaming taga-Bulacan ang mabibigyan ng maayos na trabaho.”
Victolero and Aris Dionisio, a Magnolia rookie from Bustos town, said that Bulacan’s businesses and tourism will also benefit from the airport project.
“It will add more jobs and business, especially sa mga local people ng Bulacan. Mas makikilala yung mga products namin dito sa Bulacan at pati yung tourism mag-improve din, “Victolero said.
Dionisio said the project will give hope and new opportunities for a lot of people who lost their jobs during the lockdown.
“Unang una ay madaming tao ang mabibigyan ng trabaho na kailangan na kailangan ngayon ng karamihan dahil sa pandemya. Sunod ay maraming produkto na gawang Bulacan ang mas makikilala hindi lang dito sa Pilipinas pati na rin sa ibang mga bansa,” Dionisio explained.
The Bulacan airport will be capable of handling up to 100 million passengers per year, seen to create about 30 million tourism-related jobs, and generate more than a million direct jobs for host province Bulacan and nearby provinces.
Sangalang added that the new airport will reduce congestion at the NAIA. The new airport will have four runways with the provision for two more, a world-class terminal and a seamless transport system.”
“Malaking tulong rin ito sa economic growth natin, also sa tourism, at siyempre kahit paano masosolusyunan nito ung pag-crowding sa NAIA, since parang lahat ng flights ay mostly doon,” Sangalang said.
“I am happy and excited that there will be an airport in Central Luzon. A lot of people will benefit from it. Airports will be less crowded and more convenient for Filipinos and tourists,” Mamaril added.