Carlo, who also turns 25 this year, has his own thoughts about TOP GUN. The toddler who learned to load the TOP GUN cassette into the VCR before he learned to walk is now an English teacher and a pilot. In short, he’s doing what he always wanted to do.
TOP GUN was quite possibly the first movie I ever watched. Well, it was either that or STAR WARS. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?
I was caught by surprise when Dad told me about TOP GUN’s 25th anniversary last month. Even more surprising was the realization that I would be turning 25 soon. I am now older than Tom Cruise was when he filmed the movie. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun!
This prompted some reflective thought on what I’ve gone through in that time. Apparently even English teachers get cliché sometimes. In the past twenty-five years, I’ve survived the usual young nerd’s gauntlet of bullying and academic trial, been in two relationships, only one of which made me cynical, won a bunch of trophies at school, watched them disappear along with my house in the floodwaters of Typhoon Ondoy, and landed my dream job of teaching college English at my alma mater.
Oh yeah, I’ve also become a pilot! There are some romantic youthful experiences that typhoons can’t wash away.
I’m pretty sure that Dad was hoping that my flight training would be a growing-up sort of experience for me. I can’t make any definitive claims for its success in that area, but I have picked up a few things.
In Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book which remains a favorite of mine long after AB Literature revealed its imperfections, one of the protagonist’s friends tells him that "the gull who flies highest sees farthest." True. Flying over the Philippines has made me keenly aware of what a beautiful country we live in.
Watching the sunrise in La Union and the sunset in Baler offer perspective. It’s not all about Manila, with its smog and traffic and inefficiencies. This place is awesome. People want to come here!
Having grown up in a country infamous for its colonial mentality, I still feel a little thrill of pride whenever I meet a foreigner who decided to come here because of the invariably friendly people, the lovely scenery, and the subtlety-free onslaught of Filipino cuisine. Add to that the fact that Philippine skies are the friendliest on earth if you know where to look, and I can say that, poor flood-prevention aside, I am proud of my country.
One of the things I’m particularly proud of is our hosting of the Woodstock of aviation, the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta! Aircraft and aviators of all varieties from dozens of countries come here year after year to play to a crowd that gets bigger every time.
We have exotically-shaped hot air balloons, skydivers, paragliders, marching bands, kite stunt teams, aerobatics, and me and Dad at the eye of the storm. I feel really luck to have fallen in with this bunch. Over the course of the fiesta, I’ve learned to coordinate aircraft operations, facilitate outlandish wedding proposal schemes, and survive attacks by man-eating kites, all while wearing aviator sunglasses.
Another thing I’ve taken to heart is the importance of having a good wingman. But I knew that long before I became a pilot; I learned it from Top Gun.
Posted from Koh Chang, Thailand, June 3, 2011