PGMA: Caticlan airport a dream come true

January 15, 2010 10:50 pm 

CATICLAN, Aklan, Jan. 15 — Lowering the time capsule that signals the start of modernization work on Caticlan International Airport, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said on Friday her dream is about to come true.

The modernization project, which will be undertaken in phases, carries a P2.507 billion price tag.

In her talk with reporters, the President noted that the International Finance Corp., the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, has recommended the modernization of the Caticlan airport to serve tourists going to Boracay Island, famous the world over for its white, powdery sand beach.

She added the airport will serve as a gateway not only to Boracay but also to the rest of the Visayas.

The President, who flew in from the Kalibo airport and took a chopper to Malay town in this province, said the group of George Yang, exclusive local licensee of McDonald’s of America, and former Ambassador to the Vatican Francisco Alba, have taken up her call for the private sector to undertake the upgrading of the airport.

Through the years, the President said, tourists have been clamoring for an airport right in Caticlan, not in Kalibo.

“I saw this as a challenge since not all tourists are rich and have the money to spend for frequent bus and ferry transfers,“ she explained.

The President also said that Yang, who is a frequent traveler to Boracay, has invested in Shangri-La-Boracay, Fairways, and BlueWater, which he bought from the Filinvest Group.

She also expressed gratitude to Ambassador Alba, who joined the group that invested in the project.

The President then presented two of the beneficiaries of the Caticlan Airport Development Project — Maricar Tesorero, a tour guide operator, and Dante de la Torre, a carpenter hired by the group for the upgrading of the airport — and asked them how the airport would benefit them directly.

Tesorero said she and others like her depend on daily tour duties for their income.

“When the Caticlan airport was closed because of an aviation accident, we had to go daily to Kalibo and sell our services to clients there,” she said. “It was hard, not to mention the high cost of commuting daily.”

She said she is glad to hear that the work on the airport will be completed in seven years.

“We hope to earn a higher income serving local and foreign tourists in Caticlan and Boracay,” she said.

De la Torre, for his part, said the construction project will assure him of a stable source of income for the next seven years, or until he turns 52. For the locals, he added, there will be livelihood and job opportunities as well.

The President said she is happy that airport modernization and construction, “which is one of my State of the Nation Address promises, is about to make a positive impact on the lives of the people.” (PNA)

scs/OPS/ssc

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