A tribute to a fallen man in uniform

Cpt. Christian Paul Litan

Paul was a stubborn child.

His face was always red with incessant use  of Master Eskinol. His hair was always  kept spruced ala Wowee de Guzman; he  dressed himself like a millennial – casual  but very presentable. He was about 5”7’ tall, slenderbuilt.  He also has a feet fetish as he always kept his  ultra clean.

He drank the regulars: Red Horse, Emperador, gin,  whatever the sari-sari store has in its wooden shelves.  His way was simple: to make friends with everybody  and live a satisfied life.

Paul, or Ian to his relatives, lived right beside our house  and has become my best friend. We call each other  “Budz”- our code, our term of endearment, perhaps.

He never said it but his actions tell that he wanted to  join the military and become a Philippine Air Force  (PAF) pilot. When he hit the right age, he enrolled  himself at Philippine Air Force Regular Officers  Procurement Program (PAFROPP) and attended the  PAF Flying School.

When he came out of military schooling, his posture  was more imposing. His face matured and was not  as red as I remember. He has developed a muscled  physique. He didn’t look like Woowee de Guzman  anymore. He was, aesthetically, a different person.

“Budz!” He almost ran to me, greeted me as he  initiates our celebratory fist bump, another secret  “code” of ours. His spirit, our friendship and his  pristine feet remained the same. He shows high moral  when telling me tales of his rigorous training. “It’s  all in the mind, Budz,” he replied when I asked how  his small frame survived one and a half years of tall  orders from his superiors.

He was assigned to far-flung places. Our bonding  moments are now reduced to telephone calls and  Facebook messages.

Then, he was promoted to Pilot-in-Command.

He is now Captain Christian Paul T. Litan.

On May 4, 2017, he captained a 50 year old UH1d — a  helicopter infamous for being bought at an anomalous  price tag by the past administration. Among the four  inside the helicopter, three died. Budz wasn’t spared.  It was around 3:00 PM, the news reported.

Reports also said that Capt. Litan, pilot-in-command,  played hero as he maneuvered the helicopter away  from a residential area as it spiraled down to ashes  in an open lot.

The stubborn child is now broadcasted as a hero.

His death could be attributed to anything – be it the  failings of a decaying chopper, be it Paul’s (although  almost impossible as he was one of the finest)  miscalculation, be it the weather that they tried to  soldier on that day. The confirmation of the cause of  fatalities is yet to be heard.

He and his colleagues died in line of duty. I’d like  to think that he sacrificed himself for a country he  loved so much.

However, it is now a sacrifice endured by many  people, endured by Kristel, his wife of only seven  months; by his family, his friends, colleagues, by a  future he couldn’t even witness. Suffice it to say, it’s  a sad day for all who knew Paul.

However, let us not be miserable for we are granted a  chance to have known and loved such a gallant man.

*This is written through the eyes of Alva, Paul’s“Budz.”

JOEL JAMES CUBILLAS

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrDigg thisEmail this to someone