The tallest airport control tower in the country will soon be seen at the Clark International Airport, according to Philippine News Agency (PNA). Running 54 meters in height, the tower will feature 18 storeys, higher than the current one, which was constructed by the Americans who used Clark as a military base.
In comparison to structures in two major airports in the country, the one in Mactan-Cebu International Airport runs 30 meters, while the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has one about 40 meters high. When completed, the new tower will improve the airfield’s ground lighting system.
The construction of the actual structure, which will be happening within a year, amounts to P375 million. Meanwhile, the upgrade of the system will cost about P500 million. The Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) already started the bidding process for the project.
Both projects form part of the greater airport infrastructure expansion program of the state-run corporation. Its funding is under the General Appropriations Act of 2020, particularly under Bases Conversion and Development Authority’s account.
New Terminal Building
According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the new passenger terminal building of the airport is already 99 percent finished, as mentioned in another PNA report. Its completion will improve the operational capacity of the aviation hub, increasing its passenger volume drastically. From the current 4.2 million visitors, it can hold up to over 12 million.
Despite the pandemic, the project was able to move forward, with strict health and safety protocols observed in construction activities.
The design for the new building reflects the unique cultural identity and breathtaking scenery of the Central Luzon region, according to Manila Bulletin. Its architecture, for instance, is reminiscent of the mountain ranges in Zambales and Mt. Arayat in Pampanga. To honor Filipinos’ determination during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the construction team used lahar as an architectural fiber, according to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade.
Inside the building, there are touches of wood, which highlight the local resources in the province. Green areas surround the building, giving future passengers a refreshing, welcoming sight.
On top of these, the ceilings feature frames of Christmas lanterns, as Pampanga is known for its thriving parol-making industry. Capiz windows, meanwhile, serve as skylights, letting natural light in.
BUDJI+ROYAL Architecture+Designs is one of the firms Megawide-GMR partnered with in designing the new passenger terminal building, showing off the Filipino identity in the interiors.
The new terminal building will be operational in the first quarter of 2021.
Tourism Growth, Economic Development
The developments in the Clark International Airport are seen to boost tourism activities in Central Luzon. The region is filled with nature hotspots, from islands, beaches, and falls to mountains and volcanoes. Seasoned tourists often visit Ditumabo Falls in Aurora, Minalungao National Park in Nueva Ecija, Miyamit Falls in Pampanga, and of course, Mount Pinatubo in Zambales.
Unique, colorful festivals can likewise be witnessed in Region III provinces. Some of the highly anticipated are the Pulilan Carabao Festival and Paynauen Duyan Festival.
For travelers who seek a sense of history in their vacations, there are plenty of heritage sites in the area. In Aurora, there’s the Baler Catholic Church and Doña Aurora Quezon’s House, the mansion of the wife of former Philippine President Manuel Quezon. Capas National Shrine, the memorial for soldiers who died during the Death March, is in Tarlac. Meanwhile, Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar, which transports tourists to Old Manila’s glory days, is located in Bataan.
With the Clark International Airport upgraded and domestic travels promoted by the Department of Tourism, these tourist hotspots are more likely to see more vacationers in the next few years.
As a result, the region is set to witness better economic development. Several establishments will benefit from vibrant tourism: hotels and accommodations, restaurants, resorts, souvenir shops, and transportation, among others. New businesses are more likely to set up operations, especially with the national government’s push to decentralize commercial activities away from Metro Manila. Ultimately, the influx of tourists and investors will create employment opportunities for people in Central Luzon.
The region is slowly reopening establishments, but only to its residents, as the threat of coronavirus is still present, Manila Bulletin reported. Nueva Ecija has lifted the restrictions on farm tourism sites, allowing establishments to welcome locals only. In Zambales, beach resorts accept residents in the province. The malls and restaurants in Pampanga, meanwhile, have implemented a 50 percent operating capacity.
Sources: PNA, Manila Bulletin, DOT