AIRPORTS | MANILA :: Ninoy Aquino International Airport T3 ::: Another Pinoy White Elephant

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A lot of pesos, many of them bearing the face of its namesake, national hero Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., slipped through slippery fingers on their way to completing Terminal 3 at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. As they say in the Philippines, it’s a skandal!

Well, we finally had the opportunity to avail ourselves of the new edifice and monument to pork whilst en route to Boracay in December 2009.

For years, T3 just sat there like a lump on the tarmac next to Villamor Airbase, 98% completed but unoccupied due to faulty workpersonship and lawsuits. Mothballed for five years.

T3 is one of the biggest chunks of fat off the infamous Pinoy pork barrel — ever. The skandal about its construction reached fever pitch in 2006 when a 100-square-metre chunk of the ceiling fell down:

Shades of Imelda’s rushed (her project were always rushed) Manila Film Center and its attendant tragedy come to mind: the sounds of shoddy construction and corners being cut.

The word “sabotage,” of course, was bandied about from the get-go.

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Don’t you just hate airports with multiple terminals? Heathrow anyone? In Manila, they keep building them, even though they don’t really need ‘em.

The photos of T3 (below) are mine from December 2009. They show a brand spanking new terminal designed by renowned architects, Chicago’s SOM or Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. This is the firm that gave modernism one of its first masterworks, Lever House in New York:

SOM also worked with my favourite Filipino architect, Leandro Valencia Locsin on the Philippine Stock Exchange Plaza.

What of the terminal’s design, then, you may ask. Well, considering that most Asian capital cities have built cathedrals to the jet age (Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, below) in the past decade, T3 doesn’t even compare.

This thing on Villamor is, while adequate, just b-l-a-n-d. It’s not even listed on SOM’s own website. The only sprig of colour comes in the form of a more tasteful shade of Aquino Yellow at the check-in counters. It’s as if someone at SOM said, “Well, it’s a cheap design. Let’s make the supporting members “V” shaped. That’ll jazz it up.”

NAIA’s economic distress is also evidence of the Philippine’s continued inability to attract turistas to its 7,107 islands.

If the building looks empty, it is because it is. As of this posing, it’s being used by exactly four airlines: Air Philippines, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, and Zest Airlines, a discounter that flies mainly out of Manila’s “unofficial” [read: discount] airport, the former Clark Air Base (CAB).

CAB is now named for none other than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s father and (in true Pinoy dynastic fashion), former President, Diosdado Macapagal.

It’s odd that, whilst international travellers have to enter Manila through the falling-apart T1, this new edifice is home to … discount carriers that should be out at DMIA. Something does not compute.

Anyway, more than half of T3 was not being used a year after it officially opened on 22 July 2008.

Photos: Planespotters.netThe World in 360 | Skyscraper City | Airline Pictures

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I won’t get into the politics of it all, but rather, let others dis the building. The following choice quotes are reactions to Storm Crypt’s photo of NAIA T3, aptly entitled «White Elephant»:

FLICKR DISCUSSION ABOUT T3:

«WHITE ELEPHANT»

The Philippine government paid P3.2 billion for this so far — useless piece of junk. How the heck did this came to be, is another debatable stuff. But who’s frowning — when the government officials don’t pay it themselves anyway — they always just get the money from the taxpayers.

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– Storm Crypt

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By the time T3 opens, it would look just as worn down as T1. The Philippines has a penchant for building huge monstrosities (costing taxpayers enormous sums of money) that end up as monuments to the profligate style of governance. Add this to the list that includes the Cultural Center of the PhilippinesCoconut PalaceManila Film CenterFolk Arts Theatre, and PICC.

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– hlcoronado77

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And … this is BRAND NEW. It hasn’t been used yet. The ceilings had been collapsing. And it’s not only in Manila, it’s everywhere. In Cebu, we have the famous lampost that costs just around $200, and you know how much the local officials declared it — more than $2,000. There’s the CICC too — hahaha, the equivalent of PICC [Philippine International Convention Center in Manila]. It was alleged (because it is not proven in court yet) that it was overpriced too. Well well well, how about the pork barrel of congressmen and senators — millions of non-auditable expenses. Well, that’s what we have in the Philippines.

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– Storm Crypt

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The money used to build this T3 was from Japanese government loan. tsk tsk tsk …

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– jessmtb2000

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NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL TII

Terminal 2 is also known as The Centennial Terminal (to celebrate the country’s first declaration of independence — from Spain that time — on 12 June 1898).

It, too, was a “gift” from the Japanese in retribution for their war guilt about the atrocities they committed during their “Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” years (and, no doubt, to give recession-weary Japanese firms something in the world to do; after all, when it comes to pork barrel politricks, the Japanese wrote the book.

Centennial Terminal 2 is a beautiful building, almost gorgeous. It’s one of the nicest mid-sized terminal buildings I’ve seen. Its minimalist lines and tropical foliage in a white tubular cage makes using Philippine Airlines, its exclusive tenant, a treat. Kudos to Aéroports de Paris for a winning design.

 

 

I also like the way the architecture fully exploits its site on the tarmac (see aerial views). Vs for Victory!

Photo by EnozAnewor

Photo via Animo Lasalle

File:Centennialphoto.jpg

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 (Manila) by bredgur.

Photo: bredgur, Flickr

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo likes T2, too. «She’s a Fan.»

Photo: see Scandals Under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2001-2009

ARRIVAL — PGMA beams as she is welcomed by First Gentleman José Miguel Arroyo upon her arrival Wednesday morning (6 May 200) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Centennial Terminal (NAIA II) in Pasay City following a successful official visit to Egypt and state visit to Syria.  Also in photo (from right) are NAIA security chief Angel Atutbo, Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Victor Ibrado and other officials.

– balita-dot-ph

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NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL T1

As for Terminal 1, the International Terminal, well …

I was shocked when I learned my favourite Filipino architect, Leandro “Lindy” Valencia Locsin, designed it.

The terminal Locsin designed to replace the swell 50s’ terminal looks totally Brutalist in comparison to the former’s tropical elegance:

Granted, the 1970s were not the best years for architecture (they do, however, make the ‘80s look really bad). Yet, this building is a mess, consistently ranked near the bottom:

Home Page

MANILA NINOY AQUINO AIRPORT review : 28 June 2008 : by Francisco Pinyata

Customer Rating : 2/5

2 Star Rating 

Stepping into the NAIA terminal is like stepping into a time machine back into the 70s.

Everything, except the few LCD flatscreens at the check in counters, are in need of a major technical makeover. The walls on the entire structure looked extremely dull and dirty.

Very slow immigration and customs officers whom all seem to want to squeeze a buck out of every passenger.

There are not enough baggage conveyors so between 1 pm to 2 pm when my flight arrived together with 5 other flights, there was barely sufficient room for the passengers waiting for their luggage.

Before you even get out of the terminal you will be approached by sales people selling you everything from taxi rides to sim cards to bottled water. Departing from this airport is not that much different.

Duty free shop is microscopic compared to most other international airports in that part of the world.

Not enough seating for passengers waiting for gate boarding announcements. Smoking area is located within a small cafe with very poorly working ventilation system. Your clothes will smell as if they were rubbed against a wet ashtray.

Only star this airport will get is for the polite and helpful security and staff (immigration and customs people not included).

West End of the Main Runway (Near Runway 06) by Storm Crypt.

Photo: Storm Crypt, Flickr

BW2.jpg image by hyphendash

Photo: Hyphendash

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1

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Photo via Animo Lasalle

Photo: elma_josenaty_clan

If Loscin’s T1 has a ‘70s feel (it opened in 1981), it’s because Locsin’s detailed plans were wrapped up by 1974.

His interiors have a Halston-like mid-seventies vibe to them and look great in these shots:

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File:NAIA Airport.jpg

And, it’s nice to know that some people can find romance at an airport:

Eugene Padua, 26, of Taytay, Rizal, a nurse at UST Hospital, proposed marriage to his girlfriend, Marian Ocampo, 23, of Zambales, a flight attendant of Asiana Airlines of four years, right at the NAIA Terminal 1 arrival area.

Proposals being done at the NAIA prove that we are the friendliest and most accommodating airport. Proposals done at the NAIA are starting to become a trend and we are happy to be a part of a memorable moment in their lives as a couple

– Tors Serrano, MIAA Assistant General Manager

THE MASSIVE CANTILEVERED PORTE-COCHÈRE AT “LINDY” LOCSIN’S PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE, CCP, RECYCLED AT NAIA’S T1

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1

Google Earth 3D Buildings: Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1

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> click on the screenshot to access NAIA on Wikimapia:

 

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Image via Wikipedia

 

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But when I passed through, it all felt very third worldy. Wrong. All wrong. Not a place to propose, at all.

The upkeep and maintenance of T1 were, shall I say, disgusting? To let a piece of architecture imagined by a National Artist deteriorate to the point where it is literally falls apart displays some sort of attitude. Why are those discount carriers occupying the “brand new” T3?

Now that Terminal 3 has opened, the Flickr photographers above fear for its eventual demise.

Too bad. National Heroes (and Artists) deserve better.


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August 21, 1983 at the former Manila International Airport tarmac

09: 04 21 August 1983 at the former Manila  [now Ninoy Aquino] International Airport tarmac

NINOY AQUINO’S LAST KISS

AIRLINES + AIRPORTS

THE PHILIPPINES

NINOY AQUINO

see also:

MANILA – NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (NAIA) @ SKYSCRAPER CITY

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