It’s going to be a huge day. My dad is celebrating his 50th anniversary at the Philippine Air Force Flying School in Fernando Air Base, Lipa, Batangas.
A milestone. The members of the Class of 1962 will be there with their families – all of us proud and honouring our dads who’ve had very interesting flying careers. But of course in my eyes, I will only be seeing my dad’s face marching among the many graduates of the Air Force. He is our hero, our star, our Superman. He flew. And he had superpowers.
Through the fifty years of his being a military pilot, he survived it not only with flying colours but with dignity and honour. I am proud to say that my dad is an honest man. I feel like I have to say it because this is a paragraph with the word “military” in it.
I will be emotional tomorrow. That’s a given. I’m a daddy’s girl.
But that’s not the only reason there will be tears. I am reminded of the dark period when my dad was a victim of a harsh system and an unfair judgement. His is a story you would never have heard about because his name wasn’t big enough to be of public interest. (Except now, his name is in Carlos Celdran’s Livin’ La Vida Imelda). My dad’s case wasn’t a scandal. It was an effect of 1986 but it wasn’t about politics. It was simply an administrative fiasco that had a huge effect in our lives. Like, we lost our country overnight. My dad lost his rank at the peak of his career. And from what I saw, he lost the sparkle in his eyes.
But my dad’s strength of character was unwavering. During the many years of feeling exiled in a foreign land, all he wanted was to go home and finish serving his country. He fought for his rights. It was complicated. A few people helped. In 1997, he accomplished his task. And I was beside him though the journey. He got what he wanted and deserved – his clean name with a clean conscience and even cleaner, empty pockets.
My dad officially retired from the Air Force with the rank of full Colonel with a humble plot of land he paid off during his career. No luxury vehicles. No mansion. Like I said… honest. And happy.
He then flew as a helicopter pilot assigned to President Diosdado Macapagal. And he eventually stayed on in the presidential wing as helicopter pilot of President Ferdinand Marcos from the 60’s to 1983.
Another photo from the 1960’s. His military career was focused on flying helicopters. At one point he was the comptroller of 700th Special Mission Wing (Presidential). It was the 1970’s then, and they were acquiring many new aircrafts. Very exciting times for the young pilots.
Some of the dads didn’t make it out of the Air Force. Mine did.
And he got the sparkle back in his eyes.
That’s a big gift. Thank you God.