Original Story from: MB Publications - Cruising Magazine by Johannes L. Chua, November 13, 2008
When we were invited to Binalonan, Pangasinan, a town in the middle of two major cities (Urdaneta and Baguio), we were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Vice Mayor Ramon Guico, III. The town’s mayor is his father, Ramon Guico, Jr., who is also the president ofthe League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP). The younger Guico, only 32 years old, was dressed casually in polo, jeans and sneakers that afternoon. You wouldn’t know from first impression that he is one of the town’s top officials. But when you start to talk to him about the tourism potentials of Binalonan, Vice Mayor Guico will relate to you his vision effortlessly - and with a passion that’s not only driven by youth but by a heart that is molded by public service.
What caught our attention most was his contribution - even at a young age - to put his hometown on the tourism highway. In fact, one of the top tourist draws of Binalonan is an airstrip which houses the WCC Aviation Company and the WCC Aeronautical School, a campus that trains professional pilots that he established in 2005 when he was only 29 years old!
We discovered that the Vice Mayor is not only a public servant but also a licensed pilot and instructor. And from only having two hobby aircrafts, the school now has a fleet of 30 aircrafts of different sizes and capacities.
“It all started with a hobby. Even when I was young, I was already interested in planes, jets, all kinds of aircrafts. I turned that hobby into a profession right after I graduated from the University ofthe Philippines with a degree in Philosophy,” said the Vice Mayor. He flew his first aircraft when
he was only 23 years old.
After college, he worked at the World Citi College which is owned by their family. At the same time, he worked for a Doctorate in Public Management at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).
When asked why he thought of putting up a school, Vice Mayor Guico said: “Everyday, the aviation industry needs highly-trained aircraft maintenance specialists, flight attendants, and professional pilots to serve in thousands of domestic and international flights. There is a serious dearth of
competent personnel worldwide. So that’s why, my goal with the school is to train professional pilots. This is the reason why we now have a functioning airport facility and an airstrip which is almost as long as the one located in Caticlan.”
The Vice Mayor said that President Gloria Arroyo inaugurated the Binalonan Airfield in February 2008. Even a group of drag racers, headed by Rafael de Vera, hosted the “1st Vice Mayor Ramon Guico III Invitational Open Drag” in the airstrip last May which gathered almost a hundred participants and more than 3,000 spectators allover the country.
“I’m really proud of Binalonan and I try my best to invite people to visit us here. This is the reason why were hosting events such as the drag race and other activities. Hopefully, these will further stimulate the local economy and bring in investors and businessmen here,” said Vice Mayor Guico.
In a short span of three years, the Vice Mayor revealed that the school and its graduates are doing very well: “We now have a big influx of students from allover Asia. We also have expanded our services to include servicesfor charter flights, airport operation, aircraft and parts sales, and more. In fact, our graduates in aircraft maintenance technology are now hired in countries in Southeast Asia, Middle East and even in Africa.”
As a proof of the school’s goal to become the leading aeronautical education institution, a two-level resort-type hotel is now open for students and transients. They don’t have to look for
another place to stay in Binalonan.
With the presence of the WCC Aviation Company, Vice Mayor Guico is inviting those who want a different kind of adventure to visit the airfield. Chartered flights for two to four passengers can be arranged for trips to the Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan, or even to fly over the rice terraces in Ifugao.
On a good day, who knows it might be the Vice Mayor himself who will pilot your aircraft and tour you around. While up there, listen to his plans for Binalonan. Then you will know that for his vision for his hometown - the sky is the limit.