New edition of memoir of Magsaysay tragedy lone survivor launched

UST Faculty of Arts and Letters Dean Prof. Melanie Turingan receives a copy of One Came Back from Nestor Mata’s children during the book launch of the late Thomasian journalist’s memoir on Monday, March 18, at the UST Miguel de Benavides Library. Photo by Kristine Joy Diane Sarmiento/THE FLAME

THE FAMILIES OF the late president Ramon Magsaysay and the late Thomasian journalist Nestor Mata have launched a new edition of a memoir about the plane crash that killed the Filipino leader in 1957.

The new edition of Mata’s book One Came Back was released on Monday, March 18, at the UST Miguel de Benavides Library to mark the 67th anniversary of the crash, which left Magsaysay and 24 other passengers dead. Mata was the only survivor of the incident.

His book recounted Magsaysay’s final moments before the Cebu Douglas C-47 crashed into Mt. Manunggal in Balamban, Cebu on March 17, 1957. It was co-authored by Mata’s journalism colleague, Vicente Villafranca.

“I’ve never seen a burn victim before, but then I saw Nestor Mata. I wondered, how did he recover?” Mila Magsaysay, daughter of the late president, said, recounting her feelings about seeing Mata after her father’s burial.

Mata, a prolific journalist during Magsaysay’s term, covered a variety of topics from political issues to natural disasters. The late journalist finished his undergraduate degree in philosophy and master’s in foreign affairs at UST. Mata also taught political science and journalism at the University. He died in 2018 at the age of 92.

“We, the family, are the bearers of his legacy. For us, that is our only treasure,” Magsaysay told The Flame when asked about her thoughts on the preservation of her father’s legacy in the book.

“Fragile as [life] is, I hope it inspires people to live life with the lack of consequence.”

Jocelyn Mata, daughter of Nestor Mata, said her father was convinced that God had reasons for allowing to survive the tragedy.

“My father believed God saved him for many reasons, for most of which is to write a first-hand account of the tragic plane crash,” she said.

According to Jocelyn, her father felt the weight of the late president’s legacy, along with his love and dedication to Filipinos, on his shoulders.

“Although my father has already met his own deadline, his little candle will continue to burn with so much more warmth and light, especially sharing his books with readers in the UST Library,” Jocelyn added.

Copies of the memoir were given to selected guests, including Mila Magsaysay, Faculty of Arts and Letters Dean Prof. Melanie Turingan, the Miguel de Benavides Library through chief librarian Maria Cecilia Lobo and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

One Came Back was originally published in 1957, the year of the plane crash. F – Nicole Samson

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