Raul del Mar International Airport? Why not!

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - December 7, 2020 - 12:00am

In one of the few times that I agree with former Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña, I strongly support his proposal to rename the Mactan-Cebu International Airport after the late Cebuano congressman Raul del Mar. Del Mar was the author of the law that established the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority that took control of the facility from the national government, to the great benefit of Cebu and its people.

Del Mar, who passed away recently, was no ordinary congressman. He did not rely on projects to build a name in public service. Never missing a single day in serving nine full terms as representative of Cebu City's first district, Del Mar crafted pieces of legislation that were of real, practical, and meaningful benefit to the Cebuanos. One was the airport authority that kept much of the Cebu airport revenue in Cebu where it belonged.

The name Mactan-Cebu International Airport has remained generic for so long. It is time to give it a name that is in keeping with the tradition of naming significant landmarks and pieces of infrastructure after those who truly deserve the honor. Naming the airport after Del Mar would be an honor that cuts both ways. Thankfully it had not been renamed earlier after one who did not deserve such honor.

Of course, there are those who do not subscribe to the idea, including the editorial in this paper yesterday, which suggested it would be going too far to do so. It validly argued that keeping the airport's name as it is will leave no ambiguity as to what or where an airline's destination is. It also correctly pointed out that keeping the words Mactan and Cebu helps in the promotion of both places as a destination.

Whoever heard of such international airports as Jorge Chavez, or Abdullah Yusuf, or Julius Nyerere, or Mohamed Boudiaf, much less know where they are, the editorial empathically asked. It must have been tempted to add: whoever heard of Del Mar? And yes, the point is well taken, except that nobody buys a plane ticket for Jorge Chavez, or Abdullah Yusuf, or Julius Nyerere, or Mohamed Boudiaf. Or for Raul del Mar, for that matter.

If you want to go to Lima, the capital of Peru, you buy a ticket for Lima. But your plane lands at Jorge Chavez International in Callao, 11 kilometers from Lima. Chavez was a Peruvian aviator who made the first air crossing of the Alps. If you want some adventure in the Mudug region of Somalia, you buy a ticket for Galkayo but you land in Abdullah Yusuf International, named after a former president of that troubled country.

If you want to go to Dar es Salaam, you buy a ticket for Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, but you land at Julius Nyerere International, named after the country's first president (which is not to be confused with Julius Neri, a prominent Cebu lawyer). Want to visit Constantine, Algeria? Buy a ticket for Constantine, but you will land in Mohamed Boudiaf International, named after the country's war for independence leader.

For as long as a person knows where he is headed, the name of the airport where he lands does not really change a thing in his travel plans. As to promoting a place, it helps if visitors also get to know the people for whom places of interest are named. By knowing the people you get to understand the place. Besides keeping Mactan and Cebu in the name does not really matter except in the long formalities. To most people, it is still just Cebu.

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