What’s in a name? A lookback on petitions filed to rename NAIA

July 6, 2022 - 1:41 PM
An undated picture of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. (Photo from Philippine News Agency)

Suggestions to revert Ninoy Aquino International Airport to its former name “Manila International Airport” were made once again online following a move to rename it.

Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. (Negros Oriental) filed a bill to rename NAIA to Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport (FEMIA) because he claimed the airport was built during the late dictator’s term.

“It is more appropriate to rename it to the person who has contributed to the idea and execution of the said noble project. This project was done during the time of the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.,” Teves said in the bill.

According to the Manila International Airport Authority *, however, the country’s first international airport was fully completed and operational in 1961.

This infrastructure was then known as the Manila International Airport.

“The first thirteen years of the airport were marked by the building of infrastructure dedicated to international flights. The international runway and associated taxiway were built in 1953, and 1961 saw the completion of a control tower and a terminal building for the exclusive use of international passengers at the southwest intersection of the runways,” the history of MIA reads as indicated on MIAA’s website.

Marcos was elected president of the Philippines in 1965, which was four years after the airport’s completion.

The keywords “Manila International Airport” and “NAIA” later reached the trending topics on local Twitter following reports about the proposed name change.

Others suggested to have the airport be given its original name back.

“Name it Manila International Airport. Enough immortalizing politicians!” actor Audie Gemora said.

“If you want to change it, just rename it to Manila International Airport, it’s better than naming it after someone who violated the rights of millions of people and stole billions from our country,” another user said.

Some vocal supporters of Marcos also agreed with this idea.

Others, meanwhile, pointed out the more important national concerns that the new administration should address first.

“Please focus muna sa inflation and pagbaba ng prices. May unemployed, starved, poor, and marginalized pa po,” one user said.

Timeline of change name attempts

Teves was not the first person to propose renaming the country’s first gateway to the world.

Here is a timeline of recent attempts to change the airport’s name.

  • In May 2018, controversial lawyer Larry Gadon filed a petition addressed to the Office of the President and the House of Representatives that sought to restore NAIA to MIA.
  • In June 2020, three former lawmakers filed a bill to rename NAIA to the “Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.”

These lawmakers were Paolo Duterte (Davao 1st District), Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) and Eric Yap (ACT-CIS Party-list).

  • In April 2022, a lawmaker filed another bill that sought to restore anew MIA as the airport’s name.

RELATED: Ninoy Aquino International Airport name change talks resurface on social media 

Quick history

Years after MIA was built, a fire with undetermined origins reportedly caused substantial damage to the airport building in January 1972.

This prompted Marcos to sign Executive Order No. 381 for the rehabilitation and improving the MIA.

The new airport building, now called Terminal 1, was completed in 1981.

MIAA itself, meanwhile, was created in March 1982.

By virtue of Republic Act 6639 in 1987, MIA was renamed to NAIA in honor of the opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. who was assassinated at the site.

NAIA currently has four terminals that host domestic and international flights that carry a growing number of passengers daily.