Tuesday, January 1, 2008, at exactly 1:45 in the afternoon, the plane I was in was about to take off to Manila. Halfway through the runway, gaining momentum to ascend, the plane was brought to a full stop! Almost everybody chorused “Diyos ko!” with the big jolt, lounging everyone to their front.
I was seated in row 21F, near the plane rear and alongside the window overlooking the right wing. I could see the workings of the right wing during the take-off preparation. Just before the big full stop, I surmised that the plane was already slightly above the ground. Maybe that was the reason why the full stop generated a heart-pounding sound of something huge being dropped instantly and eerily screeched through to achieve stability. The very loud screeching got into me and my palms started to perspire and I felt the air pressure inside the plane suctioned my breath. I thought I was fainting then because of the shock. Even though I lack sleep that day, I still managed to maintain my presence of mind and brought myself back. Then I heard my seatmate sobbing “….Mommy ko!…..” And I felt fear. I immediately turned on my mobile phone and texted a friend of what happened and requested for an intercessory prayer for our safety.
No one is saying anything after the big jolt except for my seatmate quietly sobbing and murmuring something I could barely hear. I thought everybody was praying at that moment. During these moments of fear and uncertainty, I uttered with full sincerity the Apostle’s Creed and I don’t remember for how many times. I also asked for forgiveness from God and thanked Him for everything. I felt calmer after that. And then I heard the voice of the aircraft engineer assuring us that there’s nothing wrong with the plane and there was just a “tiny” bug in one of the computers of the plane flashing a message “Retard” and that it could be fixed. No one knew exactly what was it all about but the assurance that the plane was alright was a consolation…after almost 30 minutes of silence.
The take-off preparation tone was rung 3 times, for the second time. And we ascended. The ascent was long and bumpy because of air pockets due to the relatively bad weather that day. I could still overhear my seatmate crying and our other seatmate consoling her “It is alright now.” I was also telling myself throughout the flight that we are safe and somehow cherishing the view over the window and silently declaring how awesome God’s creation is. After an hour, I released a big sigh of relief and thank God for our safety when we touched down in the NAIA.
Until as of this writing, I still feel the jitters of the incident. For the airline, it may be normal for circumstances like what happened but it was a first time for me. Never did I experience such a situation in my previous flights. I also thought I would never celebrate another year of my life (my birthday is 3 days hence), worse comes to worst.
As I ponder on the incident, somehow I was reminded of my life’s purpose, how I should live my life through the year 2008 and constantly thank the Lord for everything that He has given me – family, friends, work and love. I thought it was a very fortunate event to realize all these things which I usually do on my birthday. God was just reminding me and everyone aboard the plane that He is present every second of our lives, standing by. We just have to recognize Him though and that is already up to us. We need reminders from time to time, nevertheless. God has to manifest His presence from time to time.