Players, coaches from Bulacan, Pampanga have high hopes for SMC airport

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2020 02:27 PM

Exterior design studies for SMC's proposed New Manila International Airport project in Bulakan, Bulacan. Photo: San Miguel Corp/Handout

MANILA, Philippines -- PBA players and coaches who hail from Bulacan and Pampanga believe that the construction of the New Manila International Airport in the town of Bulakan will give a boost to the country's sports scene.

The airport, to be constructed in Bulakan, Bulacan, has an estimated cost of P734-billion. A San Miguel Corp. (SMC) unit, Miguel Aerocity Inc., was granted a franchise to construct, operate and manage the New Manila International Airport for 50 years inclusive of a 10-year period for design, planning and construction.

"It will definitely be a big help for sports. We already have the biggest sports venue in Philippine Sports Arena," said Jonas Villanueva, a native of Bocaue who now coaches the Bataan Risers in the MPBL.

"With the new airport, we can now host any major local and even international sporting event," he added.

His fellow Bocaue native Billy Mamaril, a player for San Miguel Beer in the PBA, 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," said Mamaril.

"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," he added.

Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok coach Chito Victolero, who hails from Bulacan's 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," he said. 

"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," he added.

For these Bulacan and Pampanga natives, the hope is that the airport will not only benefit sports, but it will also improve the standard of living of the locals.

The airport is expected to create job opportunities during its construction as well as during its actual operations. More jobs will be generated through 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 minimum compared to Manila," said Mamaril.

"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," he added.

Ian Sangalang of the Magnolia Hotshots hopes that with the airport, Pampanga natives will no longer need to go to Manila for job opportunities.

"Malapit lang yung Pampanga sa Bulacan, so yung mga kababayan namin hindi na kailangan pumunta ng Manila dahil mas may magandang opportunity na," he said.

"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," added Ginebra's Arthur dela Cruz, who traces his roots to Hagonoy.

According to SMC, 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.