Romancing Naia at P5,096 a popBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Manila’s infamous airport has acquired a new reputation—this time a redeeming one.
While some travelers rated the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) as among the world’s worst, some men actually find it the best place to propose marriage to their girlfriends.
The airport has also become a venue for taking engagement photos, according to Ayra Noveno, public relations assistant of the Manila International Airport Authority’s (MIAA) media affairs division.
“We have been receiving many requests for wedding proposals and prenuptial shoots. We get at least two to four times of such requests in a month,” she said.
Last week, Jun Raymundo, 30, a porter at the Naia Terminal 1, carried out an elaborate wedding proposal that certainly swept his girlfriend, Mutya Araja, 28, off her feet.
As Araja, an overseas Filipino worker in Italy, walked through the Naia 1 arrival gate, she was greeted by Raymundo’s friends and neighbors who were wearing shirts that spelled out the words “I love you, Mutya,” and carrying a big streamer saying, “Mutya Araja, will you marry me?”
Porters handed her dozens of red roses before Raymundo, who himself was carrying a bouquet of flowers, got down on his knees and popped the question.
Confetti rained as a teary-eyed Araja answered “Yes,” eliciting cheers and applause from the crowd and amused passengers.
“I didn’t expect this. I was really surprised,” said Araja, who came home for a short vacation. She is now a permanent resident of Italy where she works as a crew member of an international food company.
Raymundo said he courted Araja, his neighbor in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro, for seven years. She became his girlfriend three years ago before she left for Milan.
He admitted that his meager salary as an airport porter would not have enabled him to carry out his plan.
Thanks to friends and neighbors who contributed T-shirts, streamer, flowers, as well as the photo and video coverage, his mission was accomplished.
But while Raymundo got all his proposal props for free, he still shelled out P5,096, the minimum fee (12 percent VAT inclusive) charged by MIAA for the use of the venue.
“The fee includes two-hour filming or use of the venue and security passes for the people involved in the proposal,” Noveno explained.
Connie Bungag, head of the MIAA public affairs office, stressed that more than the revenue the airport gains from such requests, the use of the airport as romantic setting becomes instrumental in fulfilling a couple’s dream.
“It’s something that will probably remind them: ‘This [airport] is where it all started.’”
She said the reasons for wanting these “very public romantic moments” vary from one man to another.
“Some do it here because they work here, like in the case of Raymundo, who is a porter. There were also flight attendants who proposed here,” she said.
She added that the airport, particularly the controversial but more spacious and better-equipped Terminal 3, is fast becoming a favorite spot of many couples for prenuptial shoots.
“Some couples see the airport as a symbol of their love for travel. Maybe it also has something to do with its architectural design; it’s something different, a state of the art,” she added, referring in particular to Terminal 3.
Last year, Sherlyn Marcelo requested MIAA to allow her and her fiance’s engagement photo shoot to be held at the Naia Terminal 3 because “travel has always been part of our relationship and the façade of Naia 3 is so picturesque.”
Their wedding theme, Marcelo said, was vintage travel.
Some men choose an airport proposal because their romance involves the airport in some way.
Ramlo John Torres, 29, who proposed marriage to his girlfriend Cloe in April, said he decided to do it at the airport “because airports had been a symbol of sadness for both of us.”
Parting of ways
“It’s where we always part ways. This time, I want to reverse that,” Torres said in his letter of request for permit to MIAA. “I want to propose to her at the airport and make that promise that I’ll make her happy for the rest of our lives.”
Torres said that for three years, he and Cloe, who used to reside in the United States, maintained a long-distance setup.
“Every year, she’d come home but would go back to the States after a couple of weeks. I would pick her up in Naia only to find myself saying goodbye to her in the same terminal once her vacation is over,” he said in his letter.
“For the last three years, the airport was a sad place for both of us. But last year, she decided to come home for good and I just can’t get enough of the fact that we’re together at last,” he added.
Hydrographic surveyor Rocky Magdasoc, 33, also surprised his girlfriend Angela Navales, with a marriage proposal upon her arrival from Canada.
“This is the place where we parted and I want it to be the place where we have to meet again to be together for good,” Magdasoc said in his letter to MIAA.
Apart from engagement photo shoots and marriage proposals, the Naia terminals have also been often used for on-location filming.
Some scenes of the coming international spy thriller film “The Bourne Legacy” were recently shot at the Naia 3.
Even local television shows and movies, as well as music videos and advertisements, use the airport as a venue for shootings, said public relations assistant Jenny Franco.
Bungag explained that the film and photo shoots as well as wedding proposals they allow at the terminals are subject to evaluation and assessment by the MIAA management.
“There is a memorandum circular that stipulates the guidelines to be implemented when using the airport for those activities,” she said. “And usually, those activities are allowed only in nonoperating areas so as not to inconvenience passengers. They should not in any way affect normal airport operations.”