Early afternoon of September 21, 2020 at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport, a female army officer, LtCol. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria who happens to be an yKalinga, had an unforgettable encounter with a mother who was with a 1 year 6-month old child and a 2-month old baby.
Truly, it was a desperate situation causing the mother to be in distress but she never lose hope that after more than six hours of waiting for someone to assist her with her kids, somebody lend a hand while ensuring their safety throughout the duration of their flight bound to Manila.
Here is the true travel story based from the transcript of Lt.Col Austria:
It was 2 PM when I entered the Puerto Princesa City International Airport to catch my flight but I went there early because of the new normal guidelines and health protocols. I was about to enter the line going to the check in counter when I noticed at my peripheral vision a young girl running towards the x-ray machine without any one going after her. What I did was to drop my luggage and went after the kid.
Suddenly, a very grateful mother carrying a 2 month old baby approached me with the young girl. She is the mother of the young girl and she humbly said teary-eyed, “Mam, maraming salamat po. Papunta po ba kayo Manila?” I answered: Yes po. Wala po ba kayong kasama? And she replied: ” Ako lang po mam at ayaw kaming pacheck-inin kasi mag-isa lang ako. Kaninang 7:00AM pa po kami dito pero di kami pinapasok kasi di pa pwede. Sa check-in counter naman dapat daw may mag assist sa akin. I smiled at her then volunteered and asked her to come with me at the counter.
I requested her to take care of the young girl and I will be in charge of the 2-month baby. She was crying when she handed me her baby with so much gratefulness. She never lose hope that somebody will offer her a hand in that very desperate situation. She tried to ask other passengers but they ignored her.
While waiting for our turn to check in, I gave her an assurance. “Wag po kayong mag-alala, Army po ako. I am LTC Austria safe po kayo sa akin”.
At the check in counter, I gave the lady in-charge my documents and told her that I will be assisting the mother and her two children. Everything went smoothly at the next screening until we reached the waiting area of the boarding gate.
While waiting, she called her mother over the phone informing her that somebody assisted them. I can hear her saying my name. At that time, the baby was in her deep sleep in my arms, She is an angel…She is a sleeping beauty.. Then I asked the mother, what is your name and why are you not travelling with anyone? Napakahirap po ang naging sitwasyon n’yo kanina.
Then I noticed her tears rolling down her cheeks. She answered me that her name is Naomi. Naabutan po kasi kami ng lockdown nung umuwi kami sa amin after ng maraming taon. Dito ko na rin ipinanganak si baby.
In a few moments, she opened up, ” Alam nyo mam, dati po akong kasama sa kilusan ang tawag nila sa akin ay Ka Maya.” I was really shocked, at the back of my mind “Hala!!! dati ko palang kalaban ito,” then I glanced at the angelic face of the baby that I was holding…but my willingness to help them prevailed with no mental reservation.
She told me everything how hard her life while going against the government. They have to collect revolutionary taxes from businessmen. “Nagsunog na kmi ng mga buses at cell sites.
Ako mismo nagrerecruit sa mga kabataan na sumapi sa kilusan.She was even wounded in one of the encounters. And that was her miserable seven years inside the New Peoples Army.
Then I asked her “Bakit mo naisipang bumalik sa gobyerno?” She answered that “Wala naman kasing ibang gobyerno ang tutulong sa iyo kundi ang gobyerno natin”. With that coming directly from one of them. To the young generations “Wag kayong magpalinlang, NPA Salot yan ng lipunan”
I took care of the baby in the entire duration of the flight because Ka Maya took care of her other daughter.. I usually sleep in most of my flights but not this time…Hindi naman umiyak si baby, siguro dahil feeling niya kutson ang tyan ko.
Then we arrived in Manila, I asked her if somebody will fetch them and she told me that her husband will be there. I accompanied them outside after she retrieved their check in baggages.
At the Bay 3 of Terminal 3 I have witnessed a family reunion. The father got to see his family and first meeting with his 2 month old baby. It was a sweet goodbye. Akalain mo nga naman, ang dating magkalaban ay pinagtagpo sa isang sitwasyon na kelangan nilang magtulungan. She was cleared by the government in 2014.
In an interview with Lt.Col Austria, she said that she always believes in the kindness of humanity. We all have that within us. Let us be a blessing to everyone in our little way. Let us spread love not hate among us. Let us not withhold goodness to others if we have the power or the capability to give. It maybe effortless on our part but means a lot to others. By Eisenhower Bucalen