During the late Pope John Paul II's 1995 second visits in the Philippines I was preparing to leave my home town Mlang in Cotabato Province. Inside the Weena Bus bound for Cotabato City I saw the late Bernie Tayong, a policeman assigned in Pangasinan, and my two high school batch mates at Notre Dame of M’lang Anna Donie Mendaros and Lourdes Andres.
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“So you’re bound to Manila, why not join me for a free C-130 (military cargo plane) ride. I’m with my father (retired Air Force man) papasakayin niya kayo ng libre,” I boasted in a typical Ilonggo manner.
Bernie, whom in college had a common interest with me reading the Book Section Edition of the Reader’s Digest, said he got already a ticket with Philippine Airline (the only airline during that time).
“I’m in a hurry I have a medicine to deliver,” he begged.
The two beautiful lasses told me they too secure already a seat at PAL as they are bound abroad (either in the U.S or Great Britain, my memory escaped me already) to work as nurses there.
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“Loaded na po, the itinerary of that plane is Zamboanga, Cotabato City, and Mactan, Cebu and then Villamor (Pasay City)”.
Upon hearing that I could not avail the cargo plane, that sometimes carry caskets and a tank, I frantically jumped and ran to PAL’s ticketing office to buy one for myself so I could be at home in Dagupan City to see, smooch, and play with my second baby the months old Niko (he is 19 years now, how times fly) but was told that the plane was already booked already because of the Pope’s visit.
“Mabuti na lang hindi ko niyaya na mag C-130 iyong tatlo, nakakahiya,” I told my father who was anxious how he could get rid of me ( He and my mom had been pissed off every time I had my vacation in our rustic town because they were roused from sleep in the wee hours almost every night every time I knocked at the door drunk from swigging liquor with my gangs).
“Saan papunta iyang Nomad (a fatigue painted air force’s Australan made twin-engine turboprop, short take off and landing aircraftt parked near the PAL’s jet),” my father barked at an M-16 wielding sergeant, a Muslim rebel returnee, who was guarding the perimeter fence of Awang Airport.
He was told in Cagayan de Oro.