In my journey through life, I have had the opportunity and good fortune to meet some of the most outstanding personalities of the 20th century. As mentioned in an earlier column, I greeted Nelson Mandela during his state visit to the Philippines in 1997 and a picture with him and his wife Graça remains one of the most valued in my collection. Incidentally last Thursday was his 95th birthday and the United Nations declared July 25 Mandela Day. South Africans contributed 67 minutes of community service to honor Mandela’s 67 years of public service.
The visit of Mother Teresa to my office at the Bureau of Customs will remain one of the highlights of my stint in government. Her follow- up letter of thanks was the ultimate mark of humility and graciousness seldom seen in others of her stature. The letter is another rare gift of a lifetime.
Mandela and Mother Teresa are both Nobel Peace Prize awardees.
There are other individuals who have touched my life in a different way. Just a few weeks before graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in 1956, I signified my intention to join the Air Force. Unfortunately because of Huk (now the NPA) problems in southern Luzon, President Ramon Magsaysay ordered all new graduates to the field for assignment as platoon leaders with the battalion combat teams of the Army.
After awhile, we were allowed to report to the PAF Flying School at Fernando Air Base in Lipa City for flight instructions. I was assigned to a young Mustang fighter pilot, Lt. Juan Estoesta, who along with other fighter pilots from Basa Air Base served as our instructors. It was a cooling off period for them as a string of accidents indicated the need for some kind of reorientation.
On my first flight, Johnny Estoesta introduced me to a world I had never seen before, viewing the Earth from an upside down position and putting me through all kinds of maneuvers that earthlings would not be able to comprehend. I was not one of the better flyers in the class, but with patience and a feel for what was possible, we reached a point where one morning after takeoff and landing exercises, he brought the aircraft to a stop without shutting off the engine. He then got out of the cockpit with his parachute and told me, “Take the plane up. I’ll see you at the stage house after landing.”
And so I made my first solo flight in an open cockpit PT-13, an experience made possible by an instructor who was determined to see me fly.
Johnny Estoesta and his wife Ladita had three daughters and four sons. The first girl, Malorett, was born at a time when he was teaching me the rudiments of flying. She is married to retired Air Force Col. Jess Gascon, a former assistant director-general of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency under my classmate Maj. Gen. Rodolfo Canieso, former Army commander. Their only son Jess Daniel is with the US National Guard (Reserve).
The second girl, Maritess, is married to retired Maj. Gen. Romeo Alamillo, former PAF vice commander and now with the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corporation. They have a son currently undergoing training at the Air Force Officer Candidate School in Lipa City.
Their youngest girl, Marilou, is married to Maj. Gen. Edgardo Rene Samonte, my former senior aide and now commander of the Air Education and Training Command at Fernando Air Base. Marilou and Rene have three sons: 1st Lt. Ryan Samonte is with the Scout Rangers of the Army and is senior aide to Army Commander Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes; 2nd Lt. Renmar Samonte graduated from the PMA last year and is starting flying training at the PAF Flying School; and the third boy Renward is a medical doctor.
The eldest boy, John Estoesta, a member of PAF Flying School Class ’85 was recently promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He is the deputy commander of the 3rd Air Division in Zamboanga City. His son, 1st Lt. Francis Estoesta, PMA Class 2007 is a helicopter pilot with the 205th Helicopter Wing at Villamor Air Base.
The second boy, Col. Jess Estoesta, PMA Class 1987, recently graduated from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., with an MA in Strategic Security Studies (with honors). He was also named the Outstanding International Counter Terrorism Fellow for 2013 by the university. An assignment with the Department of National Defense appears to be in the works.
The third boy, James Estoesta, is with the Air Force intelligence community at Fernando Air Base. His son Jaybee is a 3rd class cadet at the PMA Class of 2015.
The youngest boy, Lt. Col. Joe Neil Edwin (Jet) Estoesta, PMA Class 1992, is with personnel administration at PAF headquarters. He has two sons who are both cadets at the Maritime Academy for Asia and the Pacific in Zambales.
In terms of sons, grandsons and sons-in-law, Juan and
Ladita Estoesta contributed the following to the military establishment: nine Air Force officers, including three generals, two Maritime cadets, one officer candidate school trainee, one PMA cadet (third class or second year), one US National Guard reservist.
There can only be one word for this family—amazing.
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For senior citizens.
My anaesthesiologist, Dr. Lourdes C. Molina, called me about a business establishment in Pasig City that offers a promo for its goods and services but does not allow consideration of the senior citizen discount, plus exemption from the value-added tax in the case of the elderly.
For the enlightenment of all concerned, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Expanded Senior Citizen Act of 2010 (Republic Act No. 9994) provides for the treatment of promotional discounts as follows:
Article 9. No double discounts—In the purchase of goods and services which are on promotional discount, the senior citizen can avail of the establishments’ offered discount or the 20 percent discount provided herein, whichever is higher or more favorable.
The law is clear. If the promo discount is less than the senior citizen discount, the latter may be availed of by the
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Another amazing development.
My classmate Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon-Chua finally achieved a goal I have yet to realize myself. In the company of Rodolfo Vicencio and Feorelio Bote, he scored a hole-in-one at the Par 3 Hole No. 8 of Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club, using an S-yard driver and a Pinnacle Gold No. 2 ball.