Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this briefing on the NAIA project.
This is really about a dream, a vision, for creating a better image of the country through a series of projects, within which people could participate and relive the spirit of Bayanihan. One of these projects was the rehabilitation of the NAIA.
People were invited to participate in this project and work alongside government, and today we will talk about the results of the work that’s been done so far. In this briefing we will touch on the chronology of events and circumstances leading up to this point. It needs to be reiterated that we have only drawn up a plan: a plan that still needs other pieces to complete, that needs to be bid out, and which needs to be implemented.
We undertook this project under the auspices of the National Competitiveness Council or NCC, of which I am co-chairman for the private sector. The NCC, reorganized in April of this year, is a public-private sector advisory council set up to address the improvement of the country’s competitiveness from the bottom third of competitiveness rankings to the top third by 2016. The public sector members of the NCC are the Secretary of Trade and Industry (who serves as co-chairman), Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Tourism, Secretary of Education, and NEDA Secretary.
Sometime in mid-March of this year, I was asked by some members of the Economic Cluster of the Cabinet to host a meeting to brainstorm for ideas we could pursue to project a new image for the country. That meeting took place on March 20, a Sunday, with some members of the Cabinet – Secretary Cesar Purisima, Secretary Greg Domingo, Secretary Butch Abad, Secretary Alberto Lim, and Secretary Ricky Carandang – and people from the private sector, among them Josie Natori, Emily Abrera, Fernando Zobel, Kenneth Cobonpue, Budji Layug, Royal Pineda, Brian Tenorio, Junie del Mundo, and Jeannie Javelosa.
At that meeting we talked about the qualities of the country that we could emphasize and project to the world, such as the warmth and hospitality of our people, the creativity of Filipinos, and the natural beauty of the Philippines. We also discussed how we had to convey this message visually and experientially, with a unified voice, and through different channels and venues where people gather or congregate.
Among the ideas we discussed, two projects were identified: (1) the creation of a new country brand and (2) the renovation of the NAIA and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Both were seen as a means of conveying a new message about the country – one that would capture our attributes and qualities, at the same time that it would symbolize progress and development. It would also respond to a specific need while becoming a symbol of change. This, the Country Brand was supposed to communicate visually. The NAIA-Mactan airport project was supposed to communicate it experientially.
We closed that March 20 meeting with an agreement to meet one week later to continue the discussion. We met again on March 25 to discuss both projects, during which we also decided to create two groups – one for the Country Brand and one for the NAIA and Mactan Airport project.
Budji, Royal, and Kenneth were invited to join the NAIA and Mactan Airport group while others were invited to the Country Brand group. Both groups worked on a pro-bono basis for months to help the country. I was assigned to head both groups. Each group started work in early April and I am happy to announce that both groups achieved important milestones.
On April 6, our first meeting at the NAIA, the team of Budji, Royal and Kenneth began research and design work on the NAIA, in partnership with its staff. We learned that the four terminals that make up the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) were running at near full capacity, with NAIA running at over its rated capacity. From our discussions, we concluded that all terminals needed to remain in operations even as the government was studying ways to fully operate Terminal 3 and exploring the feasibility of making Clark a new international gateway.
Concurrently, we started exploring the needs of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. The team travelled to Cebu on several occasions at its own expense to meet with the airport’s General Manager who walked us through the airport and explained to us their plans. Following a few exploratory trips, it was decided that we needed to first concentrate on NAIA before embarking on the Mactan-Cebu Airport project.
Since NAIA would need to continue its operations, it was important to introduce improvements in the flow of operations and services to enhance passenger or customer experience. However, because the building is 30 years old, it was necessary to move carefully so as not to adversely affect the structural integrity of the building. We were informed that MIAA had contracted an engineering firm, P-Square, to undertake this structural integrity check. Its findings have been submitted to NAIA.
In the meantime, discussions on design were started based on NAIA’s own plan to renovate the airport section by section. A decision was made to hold off on any renovation until a full plan could be drawn up. Even the redesign and renovation of Duty Free Philippines, to be done on its own expense, was timed to coincide with NAIA’s overall plan, making sure it would fit into the larger design. A review of office structures, procedures and flows, including the locations of conveyor systems, terminal fee booths, passport control, security screening, immigration booths, and baggage claim areas was also undertaken. As the design process progressed, discussions also included lighting systems, air conditioning requirements, and even the retail mix and locations for specific types of concessionaires.
Another decision made was to differentiate the services available within the airport system, so a review of the staff’s service delivery was also started. For this purpose, the hotel staff of the AIM Conference Center was invited to design a training program for the service staff. They held their own meetings separate from the design group. Plans for inviting Filipino designers to create new uniform designs for the different staff positions, as well as getting curators to manage art installations within the airport terminal were also discussed.
As all these discussions inevitably led to the question of budget limitations, we also talked about possible funding sources that MIAA could tap into to finance the project.
In all of this, the design team fully engaged in discussions with the NAIA staff. Presentations of the design concept were made to the MIAA Management Committee on May 24 and the Economic Cluster on May 25. The team also made a presentation to the MIAA Board on May 26, which adopted the project subject to the availability of funds and formally created a Project Management Office (PMO) and an organizational structure for the project.
During the entire design process, the NAIA PMO and its own team of in-house architects and engineers prepared the detailed architectural drawings under the guidance of the Budji Layug + Royal Pineda firm as the pro-bono consultants. In this way, all technical drawings would automatically be owned and be kept in the possession of NAIA for its own implementation. All the plans and material specifications were used by the PMO for cost estimates as it prepared the bid documents and Invitations to Bid, all of which would be needed for any work to proceed. All architectural perspectives, floor plans, and detailed technical drawings remain with NAIA for its own use.
The concept design went through a long process of discussions, taking into account the need for the structural integrity review. From the beginning, the goal was always one of functionality and ease of use for the airport’s customers and passengers; it was about a melding of both form and function. It was ultimately a plan for a NAIA 1 that we could all take pride in, not just because of how it looks, but more importantly because of how it serves us and the world better.
In the last eight months, I personally witnessed the dedication of this design team and the NAIA PMO, as I chaired almost every major meeting that took place with regards this project. In light of this, I can only be thankful to the designers, the NAIA PMO, all the volunteers who work on the 10 other Working Groups of the NCC, and the Country Brand group. They all give their professionalism, time and effort to unselfishly help the country in our goal to become globally competitive. This Bayanihan spirit, which I see and experience on a daily basis, is what keeps me hopeful and optimistic about our ability as a nation to move forward.