Tato’s boyfriend said he never regarded this telephone conversation would be the last and a sign that something bad would happen to her. It turned out otherwise.
Tato, 30, was among the fatalities when a Philippine Air Force (PAF) Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft with tail No. 5125 crashed in Patikul, Sulu last July 4. Fifty-three persons have died from the plane crash as of July 16, the latest was a trooper who survived the crash but succumbed to injuries. Of 53 fatalities, 50 were soldiers while three were civilians.
“Kahit wala siya, magbakasyon ako dito kasi sigurado daw siya na tinuring na daw ako na parang kapatid na. Ituring ko daw na nanay, tatay, at si Sheen na kapatid (She said I should spend time here during my break even when she’s not around. She said she was sure that her family already treat me as their own. She said I should treat her parents as my parents, and Sheen as my brother),” Xintrickz said Wednesday, July 14.
Tato was laid to rest at the Forest Lake cemetery here Saturday, July 17.
The name “Xintrickz” is a portmanteau of Tato’s name and her boyfriend’s real name. He requested not to use his real name for this story.
“Ako umo-o na, wala sa isip ko na parang naghahabilin ba (I said okay, but I never thought of it as her final request),” he said. “Alangan naman na hindi ko sila puntahan? (Why else would I not visit them?)” he added.
“Maski ‘yung pagsabi niya na, pano kung may mangyari sa aking masama. Pero parang usual na kasi, sa trabaho niya (Even when she asked me ‘What if something bad happens to me,’ it is like the usual thing because of the nature of her work).” Xin recounted that he told Tato: “Eh di sama ako (I’ll go with you).” “Tapos binaba na. Pero sa akin parang wala lang din ‘yun kasi hindi ko naman inisip na may mangyayari. Kung alam ko lang sana pinigilan ko na,” he said.
On the day of the crash, Xin received Tato’s two messages, one telling him that they are awaiting the loading of their cargo, and her last message sent to him was: “Loading na kami,” which he received at 2:25 p.m. “Wala na siya niyan (She was already gone by then),” he said.
The C-130 plane missed the runway and crashed into a village at around 11:30 a.m.
Xin and Tato last met on June 29. They spent the day together before he reported back to work the next day. Xin is also in the military and will mark his 14th year in the service in August this year.
Xin said he wants the public to remember Tato as a dedicated military nurse. “Kung anong inatang sa kanya na trabaho, ginagawa niya ng maayos. Mas dinadaig niya pa ‘yung standard (She gives her best in any assignment. She would even exceed the expectations),” he said.
“Kahit umiiyak na yan, gagawin niya pa rin ng tama ‘yung trabaho niya. Kahit pagod na pagod na ‘yan, kahit may lagnat na ‘yan (Even when she’s crying, she will still do her job well even if she is already tired and not feeling well).”