““It is envisioned as the pace-setter and model for green urbanism in the country,” says Jun Palafox.”
Massive, green and future-ready.
That is how San Miguel Corp. and architect and urban planner Felino “Jun” Palafox Jr. describes the P740-billion Aerocity in Bulakan town, Bulacan province of the Philippines’ largest diversified conglomerate. Aerocity sits on a 2,500-hectare chunk of land in Bulakan town near Manila Bay.
“Aerocity is envisioned as the pace-setter and model for green urbanism in the country,” says Jun Palafox.
SMC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon S. Ang says that the designs, prepared by Palafox Associates reflect the vision of a modern Philippine city that provides built-in solutions to various socio-economic, environmental, and climate issues, and correct the mistakes seen in many urban developments of Metro Manila
The centerpiece of SMC Aerocity is the New Manila International Airport (NMIA). “It is a game-changer,” enthuses Ang.
Ang says SMC is fully committed to completing Aerocity. It will be fully SMC-funded, with no guarantees or subsidies from the government. It seeks to boost the post-pandemic economy and improve the lives of more Filipinos by boosting various industries and creating millions of quality jobs nationwide.
NMIA initially will service 35 million passengers a year with four runways, beginning late 2026 at the earliest. It will expand its capacity to 100 million passengers a year with six runways as demand picks up.
The Asia Pacific is the most dynamic and among the fastest-growing regions for world tourism. In 2019, before the pandemic, arrivals reached 360 million, up 71 percent from 210 million in 2010, thanks to sustained growth in the ten years up to 2019, giving rise to a strong middle class with an aggressive penchant for travel.
With COVID easing up, travel is perking up again. In the Philippines, domestic travel has proved stronger than international tourism.
NMIA is the largest single project ever undertaken by any Philippine company. The incoming Bongbong Marcos administration should adopt it as its own centerpiece project as well.
NMIA will deliver something no other local project can deliver—one million jobs during its construction period which will be in phases.
Ang sees his Aerocity as part of the long-term solution to air traffic congestion in the country’s capital. Metro Manila’s economic growth has long hamstrung economic growth and compounded many transportation-related problems.
Vows RSA: “NMIA will provide safe, convenient, reliable, and efficient air transport services.” It is in response to the Philippines’ urgent need for a new international gateway with sufficient capacity to serve present and future demand. It is positioned to serve Metro Manila as well as its neighboring regions of Central Luzon and the CALABARZON region in southern Luzon.
With over a million direct and indirect jobs, NMIA will surely boost the local economies of Bulacan and its neighboring provinces and raise the country’s profile and competitiveness as an investment and tourist destination.
The project includes components such as airfield facilities, terminal building, airport and airline support facilities, access roads, parking facilities, utilities, airport city, and other ancillary facilities.
NMIA will easily be accessible from Metro Manila and Luzon provinces via a master planned infrastructure network. SMC is the Philippines’ largest toll road builder, with about 80 percent of the market.
Land development works have already commenced.
Master planner Jun Palafox Jr.is to masterplan the airport-driven city concept.
“The designs presented to us by Arch. Palafox and his team will be close to actual,” assures Ang. “There will probably be some adjustments but in terms of the overall concept, design, and the features, this is it,” says SMC president and CEO.
“It’s very fortunate that when we sat down with Architect Jun Palafox for this project, we had the same vision that the airport and aerocity projects should be sustainably built, geared towards the future, and address social and environmental concerns that have beset our existing cities, including the country’s major financial districts. With Architect Palafox’s help, all of this can be done,” he added.
Ang points out that the Aerocity addresses many of the problems in Metro Manila today.
NMIA is designed, and will be built, with sustainability in mind. It will be properly zoned, with areas dedicated to agriculture and food production, logistics, health and wellness, aeronautics, finance, science and technology, commerce, residences, education, tourism, entertainment, recreation, and government among others.
NMIA will utilize renewable energy, and will accommodate both traditional and alternative modes of transportation, as well as promote active and healthier lifestyles, Ang says.
The airport city design adopts green architectural and green urbanism guidelines over and above the country’s building and zoning codes, and follows structural codes of other countries similarly situated in earthquake zones like the Philippines.
The Aerocity project will have ample open spaces and utilize the latest in digital infrastructure.
It will also feature easily accessible public transport systems, including mass transit systems, bicycle highways, as well as a waterfront area with landscaped walkways and promenades.
“While we need to fast-track the completion of this airport and aerocity to help ease travel congestion and aid in the country’s recovery with more jobs and opportunities for more Filipinos, we are mindful that we need to do this the right way and with a vision for a sustainable future. That is why we tapped Architect Palafox for this project,” he added.
A veteran urban planner, Palafox has advocated and implemented some 1,700 projects that integrate the best practices in green, sustainable, and disaster-resilient architecture in about 45 countries worldwide.
Palafox has said that the country needs 100 new cities by the year 2050. He says the Bulacan Aerocity is a model and pacesetter for future green and sustainable cities.
Prior to actual development, SMC committed to restore and rehabilitate the existing mangrove forest cover at the Bulakan coastal areas by planting some 190,000 mangroves, develop and enhance natural habitats of marine and bird species, and clean the rivers surrounding the airport project to help mitigate perennial flooding in the province.