Five years to the day after a massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo, President Fidel Ramos inaugurated a new international airport terminal Saturday at the site of an abandoned American airfield.

The former Clark Air Base is being converted into a special economic zone in an effort to rebuild the region, devastated by the explosion.The conversion of Clark had been delayed two years because of extensive damage to many buildings by volcanic ash. More damage was caused by looters who took light bulbs, kitchen sinks and even cables that supplied electricity to runway lights.

Americans, who had evacuated civilian dependents when the eruptions started several days earlier, abandoned the base on June 15 hours after the volcano's biggest eruption sent a mushroom cloud of dust and ash nearly 19 miles into the sky.

Clark, about 50 miles north of Manila, had been a U.S. military base for nearly a century.

"With this terminal, plus the installation of dependable power, water, telecommunications and road systems, I have no doubt that our vision of transforming Clark from a disaster area into a center of commerce and industry within four years is near fulfillment," Ramos said in a speech.