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What happens when a former NPA Rebel and an Army Officer meet at the airport?

Former Miss Kalinga LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria shares her memorable story when she met a former NPA rebel at an airport.

LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria and Naomi and her kids at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport
LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria and Naomi and her kids at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport

A former NPA rebel mother, along with her 2-month-old baby and another 1-year-old and 6-month-old child, was in a desperate situation at the airport, a female army officer from Kalinga province was there to help her.

Former Miss Kalinga LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria shares her memorable story when she met a former NPA rebel at an airport and it was heart-warming.

It was 2pm when I entered the Puerto Princesa City International Airport to catch my flight but I went there early because of the new normal guideliness and health protocols. I was about to enter the line going to the check in counter when I noticed at my peripherial 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 with a teary-eyed, "Mam, maraming salamat po. Papunta po ba kayo Manila?"

I answered: Yes po. Wala po ba kayong kasama?

And she replied: "Ako lng po mam at ayaw kaming pacheck-inin kasi mag-isa lng ako. Kaninang 7:00am pa po kami dito pero di kmi 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 incharge 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".

LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria carrying the baby
LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria carrying the baby

At the check in counter, I gave the lady incharge 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 nyo 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".

LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria and Naomi and her kids
LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria and Naomi and her kids

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 2month 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.

LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria
LT Col. Jessie Rose Bucalen-Austria

More interesting facts about Lt Col Austria:

  • The first Miss Kalinga crown in 1996.
  • First female Kalinga Philippine Military graduate.
  • First PMA Female Athletic Sabre Awardee in PMA's History.

Source: Eisenhower Bucalen


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