From Iloilo to Sendai with Compassion


Sendai Airport CCTV capturing the tsunami engulfing its tarmac (video courtesy of Russia Today)

On March 11, 2011, the world was shocked and awed again with nature’s raw awesome power as Japan’s Tohoku region was rattled by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, and after that-the sea gobbled up cities, towns, farms and people — seven meter tsunami has changed the Japanese psyche and landscape forever. The aftermath was devastation and death. Japan’s worst crisis since the end of World War II.

Iloilo Airport was brought by the cooperation between the Japanese and the Filipinos

What I couldn’t believe was that even Sendai Airport was like a sitting duck in nature’s fury as its runway was submerged in sea water of debris and destruction. Come to think of it, the airport is already located more than a kilometer away from the coast (the tsunami was reported to have reached as far as 10 kilometers inland!) In a way, Sendai Airport reminds me of Iloilo Airport…however its far from the coast line and was constructed with Japanese backing and aid.

Sendai Airport engulfed in muck, water and debris (Photo Courtesy of AllVoices.com and NHK)

Sendai Airport (仙?空港) was born out of war as a training airstrip during World War II. After the war, it was captured by the US and the Allies then it was surrendered to the Japanese authorities in the 1950s. It has experienced several expansions in its era and became one of the primary airports for the Tohoku region, with the airport expanded in the late 1990s.

On the other hand, Iloilo Airport sits on what was once a Japanese Imperial force air strip for its Zeros, now located somewhere between three barangays in Cabatuan town in Iloilo, some 20 kilometers north of the city. After the war, it disappeared…only to the old people who recounted the time remembers. Then in the 1990s, there was a motion to move the old airport out of the city due to safety and expansion reasons. Local politicians found their funding-and its from the Japanese…the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). From that point on, the Japanese and the Filipinos cooperated and constructed what is now one of the most beautiful airports to serve the fourth busiest in terms of passenger traffic in the Philippines.

Iloilo Airport

From what was once an instrument of war, atrocity, and hatred, both people mend and helped each other to build an airport that would serve more than a million passengers as of 2009-an instrument of peace, cooperation and development. If it wasn’t for the Japanese, the airport could still be a dream.

Sendai Airport pre-departure area (photo courtesy of Airports Worldwide.com)

Iloilo Airport's pre-departure area

 

As I saw Sendai’s terminal quite similar to that of the Iloilo’s in terms of execution of architecture and design, I couldn’t deny the fact that Iloilo Airport’s influence may have drawn its inspiration from the Japanese airports. And it was saddening to see  Sendai airport to be submerged and engulfed by the Pacific Ocean, leaving around 2,000 stranded, navaids unusable and now probably 10,000 people dead all over Tohoku region.

I am one with the rest of humanity praying or hoping for the fast recovery of the Japanese people from the worst crisis their nation has faced since the end of World War II. 平和を見??る死ん?人?魂??り??。(may the souls of those who died find peace.) From Iloílo to Sendai with compassion. Let the Land of the Rising Sun rise and shine again!

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