PaPaPi? The Internet Has Other Fun Ideas in Mind

And what you need to know about the art of airport naming.

ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) With so many things happening in our country—there's the pandemic, for one—you might have missed this news: Presidential son and Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte, along with Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco and ACT-CIS Representative Eric Go Yap, filed House Bill No. 7031 on June 25. This bill seeks to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.

From NAIA to PaPaPI?

The document explains that "there is a need to identify [the international airport] as belonging to the Philippines" and that it will "easily be identified as the international doorway of the country, in view of it being in Filipino language and branding it as the international airport of the Philippines."

"We want it to reflect the legacy of the Filipino people, our everyday heroes. The name bears no color, no political agenda. It only signifies our warmth as Filipinos in welcoming our kababayans and foreign visitors," Duterte added in a statement.

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With this move, the Twitterverse can't get enough of the wordplay behind the airport’s proposed name of Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas (a.k.a. PPP or PaPaPi).

Check out these finds on Twitter in response to the proposed new name of NAIA:

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Facebook users also chimed in:

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From MIA to NAIA

On November 27, 1987, what was then known as the Manila International Airport was renamed as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) through Republic Act No. 6639. The name was in honor of late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. who was assassinated at Terminal 1 upon return to the Philippines from exile in the United States. He was a known critic of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his authoritarian regime.

What's in a Name?

Airports, especially international ones, are identifed by distinct three-letter geocodes assigned by the International Air Transport Association. NAIA, for example, in aviation speak goes by the code MNL—three big bold letters you often find in your luggage tags, boarding passes, and e-tickets. But an airport's name, though not as technical as its location identifier, is just as important.

Global creative agency StartJG CEO Mike Curtis, who has worked in rebranding and renaming some of the world's high-profile airports like Dubai Airports and Hamad International in Qatar, said: "The name of an airport is important and has great impact on the community it serves. As it is closely linked to the identity, culture and heritage of a city or a country, an airport is often named after a geographic area in its vicinity, a key landmark or an influential national leader."

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In the same report, it was mentioned that in 2011, a European study on global trends found that most of Europe's airports are named after natural or man-made attractions; Latin America, on the other hand, has airports that are named after revolutionaries. But 75% airports are all over the world are named after their respective geographic areas.

Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, which is found in otherwise obscure Louisville, Kentucky, only gained popularity when it was renamed after its most celebrated citizen in 2019. On the other hand, LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, chose to honor 1930s New York police chief Fiorello La Guardia rather than a more nationally known statesman like John F. Kennedy.

Montana's Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport changed their name in 2011 from Gallatin Field Airport to better compete with nearby Yellowstone Airport, Jackson Hole Airport, and Yellowstone Regional Airport. There's a two-for-one name recall when you have both Bozeman (capital of Gallatin County) and Yellowstone (the popular tourist destination) on your name. 

In 2019, General Mitchell International Airport changed to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in an effort to "better identify [their] geographical location to travelers who are not from [the] region," according to Milwaukee's airport spokesman Harold Mester.

Honolulu stuck to naming their airport after their first representative in Congress, Daniel K. Inouye. In 2017, they renamed the Honolulu International Airport to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

Whether after a global personality, a local public servant, a nearby tourist destination, or a more general location, there seems to be no clear-cut definition in the art of airport naming. One thing's for sure, it's not as urgent as dealing with an ongoing pandemic.

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