Kids often dream of becoming a doctor, a rock star, an astronaut—whatever their broad imaginations would allow—and while most of them would eventually grow up to follow very different career paths, there are some who would steadfastly stay the course.
The following Pinoys dreamed of becoming pilots. Against all odds, they pursued this aspiration, and fortunately, found a company that supports dreamers like them. Through Cebu Pacific’s Cadet Pilot Program, they joined 16 aviation hopefuls who were given the chance to take part in a rigorous 52-week training program to reach their objective of becoming commercial pilots. Get to know their story and how they made their dreams come true.
Making his parents proud
“Gusto ko lang maging best sa ginagawa ko—na magiging proud sa'kin ang parents and family ko, ” Jam Bautista said about his goals in life. With his mother’s encouragement, he applied to get a test slot at the Cadet Pilot Program. “Nag dadalawang-isip ako kung ii-invest ko ’yung P17,000 [sa testing fee]. Sabi ko, ‘Mommy, exam ba ako? Kaya ko ba sa tingin mo?’ Sabi niya, ‘Kaya mo ’yan! Yung P17,000 wala lang ’yan kung mapasok ka naman.’”
Jam’s father, who was a graduate of accountancy but worked part-time as a flight dispatcher, inspired Jam to become a pilot. Although his father has passed away, this cadet still wants to make him proud. “Siya ang nag-open sa’min ng sister ko na mag-aviation industry. Siya talaga ’yung nag-inspire sa’min,” he shared.
Continuing a family’s legacy
As an OFW, Rydale Pintor was earning enough even though his work wasn’t his passion. “I took up Aerospace Engineering for college, but it wasn’t my work when I was an OFW. I was an aircraft maintenance technician,” he said.
Hopeful, he used the opportunity to save up for flying lessons to become a pilot, his real love. “My grandfather and my father were both aircraft mechanics. My dad wanted to become a pilot, but my grandfather couldn’t afford to send him to flying school. I told myself I won’t let money be a hindrance to my dream of flying. All my salary from [my work in] Saudi and Singapore went to saving up for flying,” he said.
Rydale knows that being a pilot involves risks, but he welcomes the challenges and is actually more excited than worried. “Being an OFW, I feel that it prepared me when it comes to risk-taking. Going abroad in itself is a big risk kasi. Hindi mo alam kung anong kapalaran mo dun, so it made me [become] more daring,” he added.
Destined to fly the skies
“Flying has always been a dream since I was a kid. My parents [couldn’t] afford to support me financially, but there was another way to become a pilot naman and it was in the air force. My father gave me his blessing, but my mother told me if I joined the military, kalimutan ko na lang daw siya bilang nanay. Since mahal ko ’yung mother ko, ’yung pangarap ko na maging piloto na lang ang kinalimutan ko. So I chose a course na mas malapit sa pagiging pilot: aircraft mechanic,” Kayrwin Remolona jokingly recalled.
He was an aircraft mechanic for almost three years at a private company in Pampanga. Praying every day for another opportunity to become a full-fledged pilot, his luck would turn around when he was chosen to be a part of the Cadet Program.
Now with his own family, Kayrwin still puts his family first before making life-changing decisions. “I asked my wife if it’s okay with her that I will not be there when she gives birth to our son. It’s an overwhelming decision for me because I want to achieve my dream and also, I want to become a dad for my child. She says that it’s okay with her and I should remember that she and our child are supporting me wholeheartedly. She understands na hindi lang naman ’to para sa’kin o sa dream ko, kundi para sa pamilya namin kasi it will greatly change our lives,” he said.
Gender equality advocate
Hoping to inspire more women to join the aviation industry, Martha de Leon is keen on proving that anyone with a passion for flying can become a pilot. “Since elementary, pagpa-pilot na talaga ’yung naiisip ko. Kahit mahirap, kailangan ko lang siyang enjoy-in para matapos ko. Pero naiisip ko rin na kapag natapos ko ’to nang maayos, may chance na ma-motivate ’yung iba pang mga babae na mag-take up ng ganito,” she said.
Martha believes in equal opportunities regardless of gender. A woman can do what a man can, and vice-versa. “Sa totoo lang, mas maganda ’yung balanced. Kaysa ’yung ganito na ang norm na puro lalaki na piloto lang. ’Di ba ang FA dati, puro babae? Ngayon, pati lalaki nag-e-FA na rin. Parang gusto ko maging ganun din sa pilots. ’Yung hindi na titignan ’yung gender. Ang titignan natin is ’yung kayang gawin ’nung tao. So I aim to inspire rin in a way,” she said.
From ice hockey player to pilot hopeful
Growing up, Pau Concepcion wanted to become an ice hockey player. “[I actually used to play ice hockey for the national team.] I started at an early age of 7,” he shared. While his parents were supportive, financing his athletic ambition was a struggle. “Hockey is not cheap. I don’t come from a rich family. I almost stopped studying in college because of financial troubles, but thankfully, my parents found a way to let me continue my studies,” he said.
If he really wanted to keep playing hockey, Pau had to prove to his parents that he was committed. “They’ve always been very supportive, so as a kid in love with the sport, they told me, ‘Pau, if you really want to become a hockey player, you’re gonna have to commit to this, otherwise, we’ll pull you out.’ So that time, I learned the value of commitment.”
As dreams often change, Pau has put aside his ice hockey fantasy for now and decided to become a pilot. “I think that commitment gave me the discipline to excel in my studies, and hopefully [has prepared me] to become a pilot as well.”
Although he still loves the sport, this achiever loves the thrill of being above the clouds. “Flying—apart from traveling from one place to another—entails commanding a whole fleet and being responsible for the safety of more than 200 passengers at a time. That kind of responsibility empowers me. I like it when I lead people and I have that sense of accountability [to others], he said.”
Learning from these five go-getters, anyone can turn their dreams into a reality if they put in hard work, have good faith, and find strong support from people who believe in them. Whether your childhood career goals pan out or don’t go according to plan, strive to be the best at what you do because life’s blessings and curveballs are great opportunities to progress oneself and motivate others.