Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Missing pilot a regular in disaster relief work

EBU CITY -- People who have never heard of Captain Jessup Bahinting before may know him only as the pilot of the plane that crashed off Masbate last Saturday. What they don’t know is that he was a regular presence in relief work after major disasters, a pastor who used his skills and his aircraft to bring help where it was needed. “He was in Guinsaugon after the landslide and in Negros Oriental after the earthquake. He was in Marikina after Typhoon Sendong. He was in Iligan City and then Cagayan de Oro City during the flashfloods,” said Margarita Bahinting, 64. “He is really a charitable person, a man of God,” she said. The couple’s youngest daughter Sarah, a registered nurse, is in Masbate to monitor developments in the search for Captain Bahinting, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand, said Rosanna Gay Visitacion, a relative of the Bahinting family. Margarita, 64, recalled that every time he had to leave for a charter or mission flight, Captain Bahinting would kiss her goodbye. That sometimes prompted teasing by the student pilots. He used to tell them: “I have to kiss my wife because this might be my last kiss.” Last kiss But last Saturday, as he prepared to fly Secretary Robredo to Naga City, the captain was in a hurry and failed to kiss his wife. That was the only time that happened, she said. The Bahintings will celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary on December 14. When asked if she believes the captain is still alive, Margarita said: “Nothing is impossible with God. For those who love God, we believe that whatever the circumstances, God has reasons.” “Sometimes, we cannot understand why we undergo this kind of crisis. But, on the other hand, we believe that God has the purpose. And we noticed that because of this incident, my husband’s good deeds are now exposed to the world,” Margarita said. Captain Bahinting, whose 61st birthday will be on November 30, was born in Larena, Siquijor, but his family moved to Negros Oriental when he was a teenager. He went to a flying school in Davao City. Two of the couple’s three children work for the family-owned Aviatours Fly’n Inc. Daughters Jemar and Sarah work as president and director for marketing, respectively. The couple’s son Dan Bryan, 34, is a pilot who operates his own flying school in the United States. Unpaid pastor Since the crash, a wider audience has come to know that it was Captain Bahinting who sent his own Cessna, at no cost to the government, to fly in antivenom from Camiguin to Cebu City last week. This act saved the life of a Cebu City zookeeper who had been bitten by a cobra. “He is really a model husband, a doting father to my children, a big brother to those in need, and a servant of God,” Margarita said. Captain Jessup is also a pastor and area supervisor for the Visayas of the Grace Communion International, since 1984. In 1997, his wife said, he gave up his salary as a pastor and decided to keep serving the ministry without any pay. The couple is developing a beach resort in Ginatilan, Margarita’s hometown. At first, the captain planned to let another pilot fly Robredo so he could visit Ginatilan, but the secretary reportedly requested him to fly the plane himself. It was the Bahinting couple’s routine to visit their Ginatilan project every weekend. “The resort is near our farm. He loves nature. He loves farming. He loves tree-planting,” Margarita said. Last Friday, their plan was to go to Ginatilan, spend all of Saturday there, and then return to Cebu and fly to Bacolod on Sunday, for a church service that Captain Bahinting was scheduled to lead. They put off their land trip until Saturday morning, to avoid the heavy traffic ahead of the long weekend. Together Before 10 a.m. last Saturday, Margarita recalled, her husband received a call that booked Robredo’s flight that afternoon to Naga City in the Bicol Region. “Because the airport in Naga City will close at 2 p.m., Jessup called up the control tower in Naga City and requested that the airport stay open until 5 p.m. because he would fly Secretary Robredo there,” Margarita said. The couple never thought they’d be apart for more than a day. Michelle Ferol, Aviatours’ human resource manager, said that whenever the captain was away from Cebu, like when he had to work on documents with the Civil Aviation Authority, he made it a point to return home right away. If his transaction required more than a day, arrangements would be made for his wife to join him. “We would have to buy a plane ticket for Ma’am so she can follow Capt. Jessup immediately,” Ferol said. Now all Margarita and her family can do is wait, and pray. (With JKV/Sun.Star Cebu)