Clark airport name-change plan sparks debate

Posted at 02/28/12 10:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines – A plan to change the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport's name (DMIA) back to the original Clark International Airport has drawn mixed reactions from the public.

Some favor the move for sentimental reasons and because the name "Clark" has been known since the Americans used it as one of their biggest overseas military bases.

“Gusto ko na palitan na, na gawing Clark International Airport,” said Ofelia Erum.

Others said using "Clark" will avoid confusion.

“Sa abroad, hindi nila alam ang DMIA. Ang alam nila Clark International Airport o Clark Airbase,” said retired Lt. Cristobal Erum.

Clark International Airport was renamed Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in 2003 during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Although the Clark airport was changed to Diosdado Macapagal in 2003, its international code remains CRK.

While there was a justification for Arroyo to name it after her father Diosdado—it’s in Pampanga province and he was its favorite son—Cony Romero, one of the workers at the Clark museum thinks the renaming was too political.

"Dapat alisin na ‘yung DMIA. ‘Yung Clark original na name niya ‘yun,” said Romero.

Others, however, believe that removing the name of the former president's father is also political.

“Siguro kung icha-change nila sa Clark International Airport, magiging pulitika din knowing the fact na nag-change na nga ng administration. For me it’s OK to use Diosdado Macapagal International Airport,” said Lorin Malonas, a call center agent.

The discussion has also hit social networking sites and is a popular topic among Kapampangans.

Nelson Mallari, an Aeta who has lived in Clark for most of his life, thinks changing names was never a good idea to begin with.

“Kung ano ‘yung dating traditional na katawagan, dapat ‘yun ang masusunod para hindi na masabi na nagiging biased sa pulitika,” he said.

Victor Luciano, president of Clark International Airport Corporation, has offered a compromise: the terminal building will remain Diosdado Macapagal but the airport will be Clark again.

“[It’s a] gargantuan task of promoting it under the Diosdado Macapagal name. If we have to market Clark aggressively. Para makilala. We will retain it, makikilala nila ang Diosdado Macapagal pagdating nila sa Clark. It’s purely from a marketing standpoint. No politics involved,” Luciano said. -- Reports from Stanley Palisada, ABS-CBN News; ANC