Daughter of ill-fated plane's pilot waits for 'miracle'
MANILA, Philippines - She remembers flying with him at a young age of 4. That's the earliest memory of "bonding time" that Jemar Bahinting had with her father Capt Jessup Bahinting, the pilot who went missing with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo in a recent plane crash.
"Kids these days get ice cream or go to the park with their dads... I go and fly with my dad," Jemar told Rappler.
Jemar will be flying home soon -- alone. She will fly to the Philippines from Texas, US where she currently resides, to help search for her father.
The plane carrying Bahinting, his student pilot Kshitiz Chand, Robredo and his aide P/Senior Inspector Jun Abrasado crashed en route to Masbate airport on August 18 from Mactan, Cebu.
Abrasado was rescued by fishermen. Robredo, Bahinting and Chand have yet to be found.
Jemar still fervently believes that her father will be found. "I continue to believe that a miracle will happen," she said.
Jemar said Aviatour, a company that she and her father oversee (Bahinting is chief executive officer, Jemar is the president), had a team in Masbate that joined the search and rescue operations.
Launched in 2002, Aviatour is the "first full-service aviation fixed base operator" in the country -- it provides anything from tours to aircraft repairs.
Jemar does not only help her father with their business. She helps him sustain the passion he has for flying.
"I make it my duty to let him fly on a new type of airplane every now and then," she said. "Late last year, we checked out a seaplane in Lousiana."
Bahinting, Jemar recalled, started flight training when he was only 17 and became a pilot in his 20s.
Flying runs in the family, as Jemar's grandfather worked at the Civil Aviation Administration. Her brother, Dan, is also a pilot.
Outside flying, the 60-year-old Bahinting finds joy in simple things. He plants trees in a farm, spends time with his wife Margie in their vacation home near Cebu and catches action flicks every now and then - another "duty" that Jemar fulfills by making sure he gets to watch them.
What Bahinting does with unmatched passion, however, aside from flying, is serving in Church. Bahinting and his wife are active in GCI Divine Grace Fellowship.
Rappler talked to a pastor from GCI, who asked not to be named. She said Bahinting, an area superintendent or a leader for GCI in Visayas, is a "jolly good fellow" who is "very willing to in his capacity to help others," especially those affected by disasters.
She said Bahinting flies relief goods to far-flung areas struck by typhoons. In 2008, in the aftermath of typhoon Frank, Bahinting delivered relief goods to Kalibo, Aklan.
Bahinting was also commended as a "local hero" for flying cobra antivenom medicine to a child amid heavy rains.
Jemar's sister, Sarah, joined the search and rescue operations on August 19. "It is a very sad moment for our family and the Aviatour community," she said.
When the teams look for Bahinting, they will be looking for the captain, Robredo's pilot. But for Jemar, she will be searching for a parent who taught her hard work, humility and the value of being grateful to those who stood by them during the happiest days and darkest hours of their lives.
She will be looking for a father who taught her the most important thing: unconditional love.
"I'm very privileged to receive it," she said. - Rappler.com
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