Saturday, October 24, 2009


I had the pleasure of a chance meeting with Roberto 'Bobby' Lim recently, a former pilot for Philippine Air Lines (PAL), who went on to be a top executive of the same firm. Captain Lim, now an octogenarian, is a son of the great General Vicente Lim, a distinguished World War II officer and Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army.

After shaking his hand as a farewell gesture, I had wondered after about the brave pilots who fought gallantly against the Japanese forces. One of them was the late General Godofredo Juliano who came from a handful of Philippine fighter pilots under Colonel Jesus Antonio Villamor. He dared to engage the entire Japanese air force when the Japanese invaded the Philippines.

Juliano, along with Cesar Fernando 'Tarzan' Basa was said to have been always the first to be up in the air whenever Japanese planes appeared in Philippine skies and was able to down no less than 10 Japanese Zeros in those dogfights seen and cheered by Pinoys during the early days of the Pacific War. Two other great Filipino pilots were Antonio Bautista and Danilo Atienza.

The ace pilot rose to become vice-commander of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and, just like Captain Lim, a top executive of Philippine Air Lines.

He was, indeed, a real top gun then.

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