"If you can dream it, you can achieve it. And today you are seeing the realization of a dream that started decades ago," said Governor Gwendolyn Garcia as she set foot again at the Bantayan Airport on Saturday, October 17.
Garcia inspected the P100 million expansion and development of the airport which is expected to open before the year ends.
The Province of Cebu and Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) inked a memorandum of agreement last September 30, 2020 for the development of the airport which sits on a 29-hectare property owned by the Province.
In her speech, Garcia reminisced that it was in the 80s, during then Cebu Gov. Lito Osmeña’s term, when the dream to build an airport in Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island started.
"But from that time, in the late 80s, the dream continued to be a dream especially since we have to settle certain lot problems," she said recalling the airport’s long and storied past.
She narrated that originally the lot that the Province had initially purchased was not ideal for the establishment of a runway, thus the need for a land swap with owners of the property where the runway is now constructed.
She said that before she ended her third term, she was able to successfully negotiate the land swap deal and in turn allotted money for the start of the runway construction. But this did not materialize as her term already had to end.
"Kapila ko nagbalik-balik sa Sta. Fe aron makighinabi sa tanan pamilya. Natuman gyud, na-swap gyud. Mao nang nia na gyud ang runway unya wa nay mobabag ana kay sa Probinsya na na sa Cebu," Garcia said.
The P94-million budget for the expansion of the runway from 900 meters to 1.2 kilometers is expected to be completed by October, fencing by November and the terminal by December, MCIAA General Manager Atty. Steve Dicdican said.
"We are very confident that we can reopen by December," he said.
With a longer runway, it can accommodate bigger planes “even planes coming from Manila in the same way that Caticlan used to fly turbo-prop planes."
Before, Bantayan Airport can only accommodate chartered planes and aviation aircrafts.
The airport's construction is also way ahead of its scheduled completion on March 2021, which was set due to the pandemic.
But according to Dicdican, he insisted for the rescheduling of the target to its original date on December 2020 set during pre-Covid times.
The airport's development is also seen to pave the way for its conversion into a commercial airport soon.
"Today, we are seeing that finally the long-held dream of Bantayanons, Sta. Fehanons and Lawisnons, and not just of those who are in this island, but the other tourists who wish to come here, nakit-an na nato nga nagsugod na nga mahimong reyalidad," Garcia said.
She thanked the MCIAA and the Department of Transportation for the "effective partnership" with the province saying, "you see, when we join hands rising above our parochial interest in order to achieve the greater good for the greater number, this we can do."
"And we look forward to working with MCIAA in threshing out this partnership so that we may continue to show the rest of the country and the rest of the world that over here in Cebu we dream it, we achieve it," Garcia said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)