Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Fate of Orient 541

Last night, I finally dozed off at 2.30 am and soon I was on a state of deep slumber.


Then I started to dream - an odd and peculiar dream. It goes like this.

I was at Manila Domestic Airport. I was curious then, as if I didn't knew anything. I was holding a plane ticket, yes and it was an Air Philippines Ticket bound to Davao City. I checked my cellphone, and it was a Nokia 3210. I checked for the date and the time. It was 4.00 am, Wednesday, April 19, 2000. I checked my ticket again, and the flight number was 541. I sensed danger but I don't know why. I packed my baggages, and boarded the plane and we left Manila by 5.00 am.

I slept during the flight. When sunlight hit my face, I woke up. I checked my wrist watch and it was 6.45 in the morning. The flight was fully booked, and I immediately guessed that they're planning to spend their Holy Week in Davao. But for me? I really don't know. I just boarded the Boeing 737-200 plane without any sheer purposes. The sun was shining, and beneath the clouds, I saw Davao - a wonderful city. Then I ate my breakfast which the stewardess had served to me a while ago. Little did I know, we were above the airport. I was wondering why does the plane keeps on hovering around the airport complex. Then I looked on the window again and saw Philippine Airlines on the runway.

We're just flying in circles around the airport. Then finally, I noticed that we shifted on another direction. I noticed the calm and serene water of Davao Gulf. I think we're going to have the final approach on the other end of the runway. Then the next thing I knew - I saw dense forest covering the hills and plains of Samal. Dense coconut forest and plantations to be precise. Then I heard the engine. It sounded peculiar. It was odd. I heard a baby crying. But the plane's atmosphere was normal.


The plane went on turbulence. Oxygen masks suddenly dropped in front of my face. I desperately grabbed the mask. Luggages and bags fell. An old woman was crying in agony. I peered at the window. We're going down. Down. Down. Down. I closed my eyes, prayed so hard, felt a searing heat on my face, then the next thing I knew, everything went white.

The images and pictures suddenly changed - in an abrupt manner. It was totally different from the previous environment.

Later, I knew that I was in the control tower. Davao International Airport's old control tower. It was 5.45 am. I greeted my officemates with my usual good morning tone. I grabbed my headphone and radioed different inbound flights from Manila. I can still remember how I spoke to various airlines:

Centennial Air flight 683: Davao?
Me: Go ahead.
CA 683: Centennial 683 maintains its altitude at four zero (meaning 4 thousand feet) and request for landing clearance.
Me: Centennial 683 request has been granted. You are cleared to land at runway zero-five and have a final approach of ten miles.
CA 683: copy that.

Then, after a few minutes, Centennial Air arrived first at the airport.

Me: Centennial 683 request to have a turn on runway twenty three and tower request to use taxiway Charlie. Magandang Umaga.
CA 683: Copy that. Centennial 683 making its turn on runway 23 and we'll use Charlie. Good Morning.
Me: Tower request to park at Bay no.5
CA 683:

My other officemates were assigned to radio the incoming flights to Davao, monitor their altitude, state the present weather condition and other necessary stuffs. I was assigned to guide the pilot on its arrival and departure to the airport.

Then Cebu Pacific radioed me.

Cebu Pacific Air 961: Davao?
Me: Go ahead.
Cebu 961:
Cebu 961 request to have an official weather conditions on Davao. Thank you.
Alright 961. Relative Humidity, seven-five percent (75%), weather condition is fine, there's a low cloud ceiling at NNE of runway 23, wind direction north-north east and wind speed, twenty three knots.
Cebu 961:
Copy that. Cebu 961 maintains its altitude at four zero (meaning 4 thousand feet) and request for landing clearance.
Me: Cebu 961 request has been granted. You are cleared to land at runway zero-five and have a final approach of ten miles.
CA 683:
copy that.

At 6:20, Cebu 961 arrived.

Me: Cebu 961 request to have a complete turn on runway 23 and use taxiway Bravo and park at bay number 4.
Cebu 961: Copy that. Cebu 961 made its turn at runway 23 and used Bravo. We'll park at Bay number 4. Thank you and Good morning.

Then, I radioed the third incoming plane, Philippine Airlines. But I let my trainee (she's a girl) to do this since I really had to go to the CR. Naiihi na ako at that time. After I did my business, PAL 809 made its final approach from runway 05. As PAL was taxiing at the runway, the fourth plane radioed me, Air Philippines Flight 541.

Orient 541: Davao?
Go ahead.
Orient 541: Orient 541 maintained it's altitude at four zero, and we request for a landing clearance.
Me: Orient 541 you are not cleared to land since Philippine 809 is taxiing at the runway right at this moment. Continue to hover around the airport complex and maintain your altitude of four zero.
Orient 541: Copy that.

When the runway was cleared, I radioed back Air Phil but I was noted by the change of the wind direction. It shifted on NNW.

Me: Orient 541, what's your position?
Orient 541: Orient 541 is approximately ten nautical miles away from the airport.
Me: Alright Orient 541. You are now cleared to land at Davao Airport. But due to the sudden change of the wind direction, you are only cleared to land at runway 23, use the Samal route and you will be directed to runway 23.
Orient 541: Copy that tower. Orient 541 maintains its altitude and speed.

After five minutes, I didn't saw the plane. Ang tagal! So I used a binocular, focused on runway 23's direction, but I didn't see ANY incoming plane, making its final approach on the designated runway. So I radioed Orient 541.

Me: Orient 541 what's your position?

Then, he radioed immediately.

Orient 541: Tower, we are approximately 7 nautical miles away from the airport, and we're actually having a final approach. I can't see the runway. Zero visibility.

That was odd. The sky's clear, well except for the low cloud formation in Samal Island, but I decided to have the runway lights activated. 5 minutes have passed, still Orient 541 didn't made a final approach. So I radioed back.

Me: Orient 541 (code for Flight 541), if you can hear me, area is now ready for landing.

The radio message to Flight 541 went. I was worried with Air Philippines. He didn't made an answer. So I tried to radio him several times, but then, Orient 541 didn't gave me even a single RESPONSE.

By 7.18 am, I called and informed the Disaster Coordinating Council that Flight 541 was missing.

I was worried at that time. It was past 7 am, when I went home. My night shift was already finished. But I can't sleep. I decided to turn on the tv. And then, I was petrified when I heard the headline:

BREAKING NEWS: Air Philippines Flight 541 crashed at Sitio Kamanlangan, Barangay San Isidro in Babak, Samal. All 131 passengers, including 7 crews and 4 infants were found dead at the crash site. Seven bodies were initially identified. Officials believed that the plane crashed during its final approach on Davao International Airport's runway 23. All of the bodies of the victims were charred. ATO officials believe that this could be the worst air disaster in Philippines. Pres. Estrada extended his condolences to the family of the victims despite he's celebrating his 63rd birthday.....


Then, all of the sudden, I woke up. It was 8.45 in the morning, Sunday, November 11, 2007.

Back to reality. Panaginip lang pala..

or NOT ??!


  1. Seriously, panaginip mo 'to? And you remember every detail of it very well? Whoa. Seryosoooo talaga???

    Bat mo naman kaya napanaginipan yon? Why on earthhhh? Haha. Ano kayang meaning ng dream mong 'yan?

    Pero the incident is actually true. Damnit man. I googled it. My jaw dropped when I read the google results. I was like, "totoo talaga yonnn?" Haha. Maybe I heard that in the news before but of course, that's way back in 2000. 7 years ago! So I prolly will forget about it. LOL.

    Then here's the weird thing, my tears fell! WTFWTF. Hahaha. I don't know, if I were in your position, dreaming about a real thing that happened, I would really be sooo FREAKED out. I mean, dba, bat ko mapapanaginipan yan? Mygally! :))

    Haba ng post mo. Detailed sobra! Haha. Grabe, naaalala mo yan? Ganyan kahaba? Siguro pag ako yan may part ako na nakalimutan. LOL.

  2. yep. im gifted with photographic memory.. as in grabeh!!! i don't know why kung bakit ko yan napanaginipan. though may knowledge ako about communication between the pilot and the air traffic controller since tito ko is ATC ng DAVAO tower. ayuun. haaay naku :D

  3. whaddafish!!

    you remembered every detail of your dream???

    you're a GOD, renz!

  4. yes. every detail. tatayo pa rin balahibo ko if maremember ko ulit to. god it's sooooo freaky!