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Cong. PJ opposes renaming of Mactan Airport
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Photo courtesy of Cong. Pablo John Garcia’s Facebook Page

Deputy Speaker Pablo John “PJ” Garcia expressed his opposition to the proposal of renaming of the Mactan Cebu International Airport to Lapu-Lapu International Airport.

Garcia made the manifestation to the Committee on Transportation which carried out an initial deliberation of the said bills today, January 27. Lapu-Lapu City Representative Paz Radaza proposed the name change which she filed in 2020.

Garcia cited that there is no compelling reason to change the name of the airport.

“The name itself is not objectionable; it is perfectly descriptive of the geographic fact that the airport is on the island of Mactan in the Province of Cebu,” he said.

He also emphasized that since 1956 when it was built as an airbase followed by its conversion to a civilian airport until now, the facility was named Mactan and the Cebuanos have always referred to it as such.

“The generations of Cebuanos, for whom the airport was built, have always known it as Mactan and have never thought it needed to be changed for any reason. Changing its name would erase more than 50 years of history,” the deputy speaker expressed.

Aside from history, renaming the airport would also erase its name and brand recognition, he added.

He highlighted the resources, time, and effort the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority and GMR Megawide Airport Corporation have spent over the years to market the airport as Mactan Cebu International Airport.

“Much of that will go down the drain if we change the name – if we change the brand – of Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority. Should we really be doing that now, as our economy struggles to recover in this pandemic, and we see the region relying upon tourism as key economic driver? Do we spend millions again marketing a new name and brand, when these resources could be better put to use elsewhere in our recovery?” he argued.

The proposal to rename the Cebu airport stemmed from a suggestion of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).

During a commemoration of National Heroes Day in Taguig City, NHCP Chairman Rene Escalante proposed the idea of “immortalizing and popularizing” Lapu-Lapu in the country and on a global scale.

For Garcia, naming the Opon town to Lapu-Lapu City in 1961 is “supreme recognition” already.

“Besides, the name Mactan is inextricably linked with the heroism of Lapu-Lapu so that there is really no compelling need for the renaming,” he went on.

The deputy speaker also argued that if the renaming aims to emphasize that the airport is in Lapu-Lapu City, it is not enough reason as Mactan as an island where the facility is located covers not just the city but Cordova town as well.

Further, he reasoned out that Mactan, Cebu as a place-name is rich in historical and cultural meaning and association.

“It is the site of this archipelago’s first known resistance against colonial rule. There is a reason why Lapu-Lapu City’s colorful festival – certainly one of the best in the country – is known as “Kadaugan sa Mactan” and not “Kadaugan sa Lapu-Lapu,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker also stressed that the name of the country’s second busiest airport should not be changed without consulting the people, the organizations, the sectors that have contributed to the airport’s vitality through their daily patronage.

“We should hear from the locators of the Mactan Export Processing Zone whether they would want to lose the advantage of having its name associated with an airport nearby. We should hear from the tourism sector not only in Cebu, but in the whole Visayas, who have contributed greatly to the marketing of the brand – Mactan Cebu International Airport,” he said.

“We should hear from the millions of people of the City of Cebu, and the 44 municipalities and six (6) component cities of the Province of Cebu, who, after all, co-own the airport with the people of Lapu-Lapu City, whether the airport, which they have historically, consistently, and endearingly called “Mactan” should be changed at all; and whether we should change it now, as we struggle to pick up the broken pieces of our lives and livelihoods without knowing when this pandemic will end,” he added.

In August 2019, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia already expressed her objection to the name change.

“I would wish for it to continue to be named as Mactan-Cebu International Airport because it recognizes the fact that the airport is in Cebu kay naa man ang pangan nga Cebu. Naa ang pangan sa Mactan kay naa man na’s Island of Mactan,” she said. (Eleanor Valeros)