For international travelers, they either know about NAIA or they don’t.
NAIA of course stands for Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Philippines’ main gateway located in its capital of Manila (although technically, it is in the border between Pasay and Parañaque, two of the cities that comprise what we know as “Metro Manila”).
There is a growing clamor to change NAIA back to its original name of Manila International Airport.
The name NAIA came about during the time of President Cory Aquino, widow of Ninoy who was assassinated at MIA’s tarmac upon his return to the Philippines from a self-imposed exile. The assassination happened during the regime of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Ninoy’s top political nemesis.
The clamor to revert to the name MIA is premised on the desire to dissociate the country’s international gateway from the scandalous performance in recent years that earned for NAIA a reputation as the world’s worst airport.
People can only speculate that it is no coincidence that this bad performance occurred during the administration of Ninoy’s namesake son, highlighted by the “laglag bala” scam (bullets planted in passenger luggage for extortion purposes) which victimized more than a thousand Filipinos and foreigners alike, along with many other issues ranging from corrupt airport personnel to structural problems, overcrowding and flight delays among many others.
As pointed out by a petition to revert to MIA, the name NAIA is “confusing and does not lead to a recognition and identity of the country it represents. And looking into the story why it was renamed Aquino, one would always be reminded of its image as a place of political upheaval, murder, and a perception of a destabilized country with pervading social unrest and divisiveness among its people.”
Most Filipinos and presumably pilots know how to pronounce NAIA (Na-ee-yah) but most travelers would probably be verbally spelling it out, as N.A.I A.
Saying MIA is so much easier –whether you you pronounce it as Mee-yah or spell it out as M.I.A., not to mention the fact that you’ll know exactly where you’re headed: Manila.
Many airports, including Politikal Pinoy’s home airport for a long time, while being named in honor of deserving personalities, are still labeled after their actual locations. Like Mineta San Jose International Airport (named after long-time mayor, Cabinet member and congressman representing San Jose, California — Norman Mineta).
After two Aquino administrations that have failed to honor the legacy of Ninoy (assuming that it is legacy worth emulating), it is time to let go of the name NAIA and once again proudly call the Philippines’ gateway airport MIA — Manila International Airport.
If you’re interested in supporting the petition to bring MIA back, here’s the LINK.