A young Palaweño soldier co-piloting a Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopter was one of the seven people aboard the military Huey helicopter that crashed Saturday afternoon in a mountainous area of Barangay Bulonay, Impasug-ong town, Bukidnon during a resupply mission.
2nd Lieutenant Mark Anthony Caabay, a resident of Brgy. San Jose, Roxas town in northern Palawan, died with pilot in command Lieutenant Colonel Arnie Arroyo and five others when the UH-1H Huey helicopter they were riding plunged downwards and hit the ground in Bulonay, according to reports from the military.
Caabay was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alab Tala Class of 2018. His cousin Irene Lhea Lagrada said his family has yet to hear from the military on when his body can be flown to Palawan.
“Wala pa pong schedule kung kailan iuuwi ang bangkay ng pinsan ko,” she told Palawan News in an interview on Sunday.
Lagrada who fondly calls her cousin “Diit”, said that they are proud of his achievements and described him as a sweet and humble relative.
“Si Diit o Lt. Caabay ay ‘yong pinsan na maalalahanin, sobrang bait, at matalino. Sobrang proud kami sa kanya dahil naabot niya ang pangarap niya na makapag-aral sa PMA at maging isang piloto,” she said.
“Kaya mhirap tanggapin ang nangyari sa kanya, pero kailangan naming tanggapin dahil may mas magandang plano si Lord sa kanya,” Lagrada added.
Palaweño and retired Philippine Navy (PN) official Miguel Jose Rodriguez also honored Caabay in his post on Facebook, praising him for being a true-blooded Cuyunon who sacrificed his life to serve the Filipino people.
Rodriguez called him a “Palaweño cavalier” in giving his all.
“Dan ang Cuyunon! (Yan ang Cuyunon!) And like all the other true Palaweños in public service, this guy gave, he did not get. Our snappiest salute to you, cavalier!” Rodriguez wrote.
Other Palaweños also expressed their sympathies to Caabay’s bereaved families, sending them expressions of sympathies and prayers.
“Gone to soon for the service of the country. Rest in peace,” a netizen said.
The other fatalities were Staff Sgt. Mervin Bersabi, Airman 1st Class Stephen Agarrado from the PAF Tactical Operations Group 10 in Cagayan de Oro City; Sgt. Julius Salvador from the Philippine Army (PA), and Jerry Ayukdo and Jhamel Sugalang from the CAFGU Active Auxiliary.