Saturday, May 9, 2009

Balik Fernando 2009

Balik Fernando is an annual gathering of the Philippine Flying School Alumni.

This year's host class was Class 79 - my dad's class when he graduated from flying school. He and his classmates, the Pearl Jubillarians, celebrate 30 years of amazing brotherhood this 2009.

In this year's homecoming, the guest of honor and speaker was Gen Alexander B Yano AFP (Ret), former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff. Another special guest was LtGen Oscar H Rabena AFP, Commanding General, PAF. The Chairman of PAFFSAI, BGen Artemio G Orozco AFP, was also present.

Gilberto "Gilbert" Cojuangco Teodoro, Jr., the current Secretary of National Defense of the Philippines, graced Balik Fernando as well. He arrived during lunch while everyone was enjoying the great food near the hangar and runway.

Isaiah 41:10 (NASB) says, "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

There was a time when I flew over the Mindanao area; we encountered bad weather going to Cotabato. We were forced to land somewhere unfamiliar to us along the route. We were told by a resident in the area not to stay there any longer because the rebels were just hovering nearby so we left the place immediately. Surely God sent His angel in the person of that resident who led us back to safety.

In December 1, 1989, at the height of the bloodiest coup d’ etat, I brought the helicopter to Lucena because we had information na “papasukin ang Sangley”. I was the only one able to bolt out of the base the day before, hence I was the only one called by the Chief of Staff to support them in Camp Aguinaldo. While supporting the friendly government troops, we were hit by enemy groundfire, luckily it hit the side of the armor plate, which was an inch away from the co-pilot. Due to our wholehearted support that led to the fall of the rebel soldiers, we were awarded as the Distinguished Conduct Star, 2nd highest award, next to the Medal of Valor. It was my 58th combat mission...

- Excerpt from my dad's sharing during BCBP breakfasts

Growing up with a father [and a maternal grandfather] with significant involvement in the military is a unique privilege and experience. I just love being a part of their life story. That is why during our senior year in high school, I was beaming with joy to be awarded as Model Cadette of Flight Delta (which was composed of our section BB42) at the end of our year-long Civilian Army Training or CAT. Ahhhh, those were the days. :)

For fighting for what you believe in, Papa, I salute you. :)

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