On Aerotropolis and Aetas

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By Noel G. Tulabut

My Palm Notes

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


THE Clark Aviation Conference will take place on May 16, 2014. This will be the second year that a gathering of stakeholders on the future of Clark International Airport would take place.

Under the auspices of the Global Gateway Logistics City (GGLC), which is anchoring the formation of the so-called Aerotropolis, the conference will highlight Clark International Airport’s critical role in easing air traffic congestion in Manila.

As we may know by now in Clark area, an Aerotropolis is a concept, an idea in community planning where airports serve as the center for new cities growing around them. In Metro Clark, we have two cities – Mabalacat and Angeles.

The event will also attempt to identify infrastructure and policy developments in Clark Freeport Zone attractive to airport-related businesses - an effort which a number of private sector stakeholders supported during the Clark Aviation press conference and signing of the Clark: Dual Airport Declaration in July last year.

The organizers that GGLC had tapped also say that the conference “will promote Clark International Airport as the best and only viable option to complement and serve as the twin airport of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.”

Not bad for an objective there since some groups are still pushing for airport in Sangley in Cavite and also the creation of one in Bulacan province.

The Clark Aviation Conference 2014 will feature the following invited domestic and international key decision-makers and economic experts who will discuss core themes arising in the Philippine Aviation and Real Estate sectors with emphasis on, among others, Clark International Airport's Industry Perspectives on its Advantage, On-Going Legislative Initiatives and the Economic Impact of Developing and Not Developing Clark.

The speakers include : Atty. Arnel Paciano Casanova, president and CEO of Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA); Felino Palafox Jr., founder and managing partner of Palafox Associate; Jose Luciano, president and CEO of Clark International Airport; Dennis Wright, president and CEO of Peregrine Development International; Congressman Yeng Guiao of the first district of Pampanga.

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The very first time that the Aerotropolis concept/undertaking/project was broached and introduced in Clark was during the presidency of Atty. Emmanuel Y. Angeles at Clark Development Corporation. CIAC president Chichos Luciano was then his deputy.

It was derived then from a study made by Prof. John Kasarda, a noted expert in Aerotropolis concept at the University of North Carolina. Atty. Angeles actually sought the help of Kasarda at the onset of his assumption as CDC president in 2001.

If I’m not mistaken, Kasarda actually responded by meeting with Atty. Angeles. They discussed the parameters of the concept and how it could really bring benefits not just for Clark but also the communities within 50-kilometer radius.

The concept was then adopted and became a part of the vision and objectives of CDC then for Clark and the local communities. CDC, during those times, was the lead implementing agency for the conversion of Clark from a military airport into a civilian aviation complex. There was even a period then when Atty. Angeles sought and got approval for the merger of CDC and CIAC.

Kasarda has published more than 100 articles and nine books on airport cities, aviation infrastructure, economic development, and competitiveness (see aerotropolis.com). One of the books he has written titles “Aerotropolis, The Way We’ll Live Next” was co-authored by journalist Greg Lindsay who is going to speak at the conference.

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Now, after almost 10 years since Atty. Angeles left CDC, the Aerotropolis is still being pushed and has slowly gained ground. I hope it would really prosper and make Clark as a premier gateway.
Luciano has remained though and if there is one important thing about projects and programs is the continuity factor. Well, I am not saying that Luciano is indispensable in Clark and for its airport to prosper. But in retrospection (post Angeles period), the man has delivered what he was asked to do when he was tapped by Apung Maning.

First, he was very instrumental in bringing in South Korea’s flag carrier Asiana Airlines which has since stayed in Clark to the joys of Fil-Ams coming home via Clark through the airline’s onward connections to North America, Europe, Asia and other parts of the globe.

The rest was history. The other airlines followed suit.

It may be disappointing though that some of them were not able to sustain their operations inside Clark like Air Asia, Airphil Express and Emirates. Some business decisions had to be made there by these airlines’ top executives themselves.

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Now it can be told that Mabalacat City’s Caragan dance number was actually chosen to be performed for US President Obama’s visit.

City officials were tight-lipped as they were instructed not to divulge any information on their possible inclusion in the preparations for the visit that concluded yesterday. And that was understandable.

Renowned choreographer Douglas Nierras contacted June Magbalot, chief of staff of Mayor Marino Morales, that Caragan dance was part of four groups/dances/festivals that was considered for the visit. In the final selection, Caragan was chosen, along with Power Dance of direk Douglas.

Sadly, June has had to forego of the Malacanang presentation before the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. This, as his Caragan group – made up mainly of dancers from Power Mabalacat City Center for the Arts – were in the thick of final preparations for Aliwan Fiesta which concluded last Saturday night in Pasay.

He has had to let it go with a heavy heart after being requested to be in Malacanang for rehearsals on Saturday – the day of actual street dance competitions at Aliwan where they also presented Caragan and the city’s 300-year history.

Caragan, as we all know is in honor of the Aetas who first discovered the town with forest of Balacat trees. I can a only assume it was chosen due to the black heritage component which may have been the most appropriate cultural dance number for Mr. Obama.

At the Aliwan Fiesta, a gathering of the country’s top festivals, Caragan wowed the crowd to the max. Both the float and the dance number had actual Aetas who participated with much enthusiasm. At the Quirino Grandstand, the performance was treated with standing ovation. At the Aliw Theater stage, the number received the loudest of cheers. The aetas were like celebrities as people sought to have pictures of them and with them.

One of the comments I read on Facebook was how the sight of Aetas on replica airplanes brought delight to the crowd, concluding easily that our Aeta brothers deserve some recognition in the prosperity being achieved in Mabalacat and that they could go places too.

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FOREVER 21 is already in SM City Clark. Yep, my daughter Allysa's favorite apparel brand will open ita doors starting April 30.

Celebrated by many style conscious and trend-savvy shoppers, Forever 21 has quickly become the source for the most current fashions at the greatest value.

Forever 21 is growing quickly, featuring new and exciting store environments, a constant flow of fun and creative clothing designs and the accessories to make your look come together at the right price.

A phenomenon in the fashion world, Forever 21 provides shoppers with an unprecedented selection of today's fashions, always changing and always in style.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 30, 2014.

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