They have high hopes for SMC airport

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    WHILE the holding of big sports events is still canceled, several PBA players and coaches, specifically from Bulacan and Pampanga, have expressed high hopes that San Miguel Corporation’s P734 billion new Manila International Airport project in Bulakan as part of the country’s post-COVID-19 recovery program, 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 of the Bataan Risers in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and former player for the San Miguel Beer and Purefoods teams in the PBA.

    His fellow Bocaue native, Billy Mamaril, a San Miguel mainstay, believes 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.

    They agreed 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.

    Magnolias Ian Sangalang said people from his hometown of Pampanga will no longer need to go to Manila to look for opportunities.

    Barangay Ginebra’s Arthur de la Cruz, who traces his roots to Hagonoy, 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.”

    Victolero and Aris Dionisio, a Magnolia rookie from Bustos town, said that Bulacan’s businesses and tourism will also benefit from the airport project.

    Dionisio said the project will give hope and new opportunities for a lot of people who lost their jobs during the lockdown.

    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 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.”