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M.A. History (September 2012)
Karl Friedrick K. Poblador


This paper describes the role of institutions in the development of air transportation in the Philippines during the first half of the twentieth century. At the beginning, the government remained on the sidelines as the “aeroplane” was merely a novelty meant for public entertainment, and a technology that was perceived to have limited military applications. This attitude left the development of commercial aviation to the airline companies, and propagated an enduring dependency on the Americans, who were always relied upon for the country's national defence. Nonetheless, it was during the era of the Commonwealth and Roxas Administrations that the government became more involve in aviation policy, and this paper would show how the impact of these institutions are felt up to this day.

Today, the Philippines is included on a group of 25 countries which are now unable to increase their scheduled flights to the United States and Europe because it does not meet the minimum safety oversight standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Moreover, recent disputes regarding the country’s territorial boundaries have highlighted the absence of even a minimal air defence capability, and have left the country practically begging for assistance from its former colonizer. Given the various factors which led to this sorry state of aviation in the country, an understanding of institutions from the past could offer an explanation to the complexities which led to these circumstances.

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