It is with great sadness that we learn of the news that the presidential chopper, Bell 412 has been found apparently without any survivors. The chopper had carried aides of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who were on their way to Ifugao from Baguio to perform an ocular inspection ahead of the president’s supposed trip.
The chopper’s passengers included Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia, Undersecretary for Presidential Engagements and Appointments Malou Frostrum, presidential military aide Brig. Gen. Carlos Clet, Presidential Management Staff assistant director Perlita Bandayanon, Navy Petty Officer 1 Demy Reyno, and Air Force Staff Sergeant Roe Gem Perez.
Of the passengers, I have had the honor and privilege of meeting and working with Usec. Capadocia, who is fondly called (Usec.) Joecap by the Malacañang Press Corps.
I remember very well the first time I had met Usec. Joecap. This was in 2006, when I covered President Arroyo’s state visit to Saudi Arabia. A former media man himself, Usec. Joecap was a very cordial person. I will remember him most for his kindness, especially during that trip. We were on our way back to Manila, but were stranded at the Dubai airport. We couldn’t get home during that time because of a typhoon in the Philippines. Incidentally, it was also a day before my birthday. Being stranded, of course, was an inconvenience in itself, but the airline had given all of us a room to stay at a hotel within the city. When we finally got the go signal to fly and were about to leave for the airport, Usec. Joecap with the other officers of the palace’s Media Accreditation Office (MARO), surprised me with a birthday cake. It certainly was one of my best and most memorable birthdays, and I will always be grateful to Usec. Joecap and all the people of MARO for the kind gesture.
Usec. Joecap was, as we would like to think, one of us. Officials in Malacañang, following the Hello Garci controversy were not very open to interviews. But thanks to Usec. Joecap, we were still able to do our jobs and write our stories. And of course, we appreciate him for that.
More importantly, however, he was genuinely concerned about reporters and their crew. He was most approachable. He was like a father to all of us reporters. And yes, we can even invite him for a game of cards. Well, I wish I had a better picture of him. Here he is (on the right), playing cards with a tv cameraman, after work in Saudi. He really was one of us.
One of the things I regret when I left the industry was not being able to say thank you and goodbye to him. And definitely, I regret it all the more now. He really will be sorely missed, and we pray for him, his colleagues, and their families. Thank you very much for being great public servants.