In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on Wednesday, March 13, Ronnie shared how his life-long ambition of becoming a pilot was sparked anew, and how he got motivated to finally pursue it.
He recalled, "It was my childhood dream and nagkaroon ng way na may mga na-meet na sa Armed Forces.
"And napakilala sa akin yung may-ari ng school, and I was invited to visit yung school nila. And then from there, nagkaroon ako ng idea and yun na, nag-start."
Ronnie was referring to Captain David Arvin-Wong, who founded Strike Wing Aviation in Plaridel, Bulacan.
Even at his age, Ronnie believes there really is no deadline when it comes to achieving one's dreams.
He said, "Any time naman, kaya natin i-fulfill yun, and here I am fullfilling one step at a time, my childhood dream."
But Ronnie did go through a lot before he was able to start his journey of becoming a pilot.
There were certain requirements he needed to pass before he started studying aviation.
He narrated, "One of the requiements, kailangan you are a degree holder so parang doctor or lawyer.
"Number two, you have to pass the physical, mental, and psychological exam.
"Number three, yung time mo. Kailangan mo ng time and budget."
Ronnie finished a Bachelor's Degree in Education, major in Science, at Holy Angel University in Pampanga.
At that time, the Viva talent was focused on finishing his studies more than anything else.
When asked what inspired him to pusure this course, he explained, "That time kasi, mahilig ako magsalita sa public.
"Pangalawa, we're not financially [capable] that time, isa siya sa madaling bayarang course.
"Ang importante kasi that time, e, makatapos ka ng pag-aaral.
"And then, pag nagwo-work ka na, if you want yung course na gusto mo, puwede mo nang ituloy."
To finish his college studies, Ronnie had to juggle six jobs.
"Nagwo-work ako ng umaga, nag-aaral ako ng gabi. If you're familiar sa Video City dati, ngayon kasi wala na... and sa McDonald's, nagde-deliver ako ng tubig.
"Yung salary ko before sa McDonald's was PHP18 per hour, Video City naman PHP20. Yung mga ganung struggles, just to finish my studies."
He added, "Nagtitinda ako ng herbal, facial products... 'Tapos pag weekends, kapag wala akong pasok or wala akong duty, rumarampa ako, yung ramp model.
"Lalakad ka lang ng five to ten minutes, they will pay you PHP1,500."
Ronnie said studying aviation is quite expensive. But he has been saving up to pay for these fees.
"Ito kasi mahal siya, like ten to twelve thousand pesos per hour yung bayad sa aircraft."
He added, "Meron naman nang naitabi for that, so yung first 30 hours ko, bayad na siya.
"So kailangan ko lang talagang praktisin at i-consume yun."
The "Ngiti" singer has to finish 200 hours of training before he gets his license. Before this, he needed to take up twelve subjects about aviation.
"Inumpisahan ko muna yung ground school. I finished the twelve subjects first, sa aviation course namin.
"Yung ang medyo matagal kasi ilang subjects yun, e, ang dami, and parang isang sem. Ang kagandahan sa akin, inano ko talaga siya, minsan hino-whole day ko."
Ronnie admits that these subjects are quite challenging especially for someone who has been away from school for a very long time. But he was up for the challenge.
"Marami akong natutunan and very interesting talaga yung mga subjects.
"Parang tutorial siya, apat na kapitan yung nandun. Sinasabi lahat, how do you fly an aircraft, kung paano siya pinapalipad.
"'Tapos in-explain yung parts ng aircraft—everything. 'Tapos yung mga computation. Yung mga air traffic rules and law, bakit may mga bumabagsak na aircraft, mga ganun."
He continued, "May time nga lang na hindi na kaya i-absorb ng utak ko kasi karamihan kasi computation.
"Pero nung lumilipad na ako, dun ko na naintindihan, kailangan talaga."
Ronnie said the flight simulator is also difficult. Nonetheless, he was able to finish all his ground subjects and trainings by February 2019.
"It was a sensitive machine. Pero as is siya, kung anong controls mo dun, yun din ang controls mo sa tunay."
Early this month, Ronnie started his practical aviation training. So far, he has rendered eight out of the 200 required training hours by flying a Cessna 152 two-seater with single propeller aircraft.
When asked what his thoughts were the first time he sat in the cockpit, he recalled, "Magiging piloto talaga ako, yun yung nasa isip ko.
"Talagang tatapusin ko yung kursong yun. I don't know how long but definitely, I will finish it."
It was also his proudest moment so far.
"I have to say I was very proud na kaya ko na siyang paliparin.
"Kasi wala akong alam sa eroplano nung pumasok ako doon.
"Ngayon, nakapagpalipad ako. Yung mga eroplano nila Sir Chavit [Singson], alam ko nang paliparin.
"Although kailangan ko ng practice kasi yung paglalanding, dun ako nahirapan talaga."
One thing he looks forward to right now is his final examination, which will be conducted with a representative from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
"Bago ako bigyan ng lisensya, sasakay yung examiner from CAAP 'tapos may ipapagawa.
"Nakakatakot sa langit dahil ang liit nung aircraft.
"Kung minsan, ang lalaking aircraft na nga pero nararamdaman mo pa yung turbulence, 'di ba?
"What more kung ang liit ng aircraft mo?"
Ronnie hopes to finish everything after a year and a half, but the former Pinoy Dream Academy contestant said it will depend on the country's weather.
He explained, "Kapag hindi maganda ang panahon, di sila nagpapalipad. Lalo na kapag pumasok ang tag-ulan, talagang sarado sila.
"So maghihintay ka ng ilang buwan bago ka makalipad. Kasi maliit lang yung eroplano namin, gumegewang yung ano."
The values and skills he learned from showbiz came in handy while he is studying aviation.
He told PEP.ph, "Be patient, you really have to work for it. Yung dicipline at saka time management.
"At saka yung dreams mo, kasi yung sa showbiz din, ganun din yun, e.
"Pinapangarap ko maging singer, makapasok sa showbiz, maging artista.
"Mahirap yun kasi mula umaga hanggang gabi, audition kayo.
"I auditioned more or less 300 times before ako nakapasok. Ngayon nandito ako sa pagpipiloto."
Juggling both his showbiz career and aviation studies also tested his patience and time-management skills.
"Naglalaan talaga ako ng time kasi sabi nga pag may gusto ka, there are many ways."
He later added, "Mahirap, pero hindi siya impossible. Kasi nitong nakaraan, may taping kami.
"Natapos kami ala-singko ng umaga tapos may lipad ako ng alas-otso.
"So minsan, tinatanong ko yung katawan ko kung kaya ko ba.
"Kasi hindi naman pwede na wala ka sa sarili mo na lumilipad, baka bumagsak sa 'yo.
"So minsan, sinasabi ko kung pwede i-resched the next day so pumapayag naman."
Ronnie is grateful that Strike Wing Aviation is very considerate to their working students.
"Ang kagandahan sa school kasi, they're willing to adjust.
"Priority ko pa rin yung trabaho ko, yung mga shows, concerts, events, pag acting or taping.
"'Pag ang show ko, halimbawa hapon or gabi pa, umaga lumilipad ako, mga ala-siyete.
"Ala-singko pa lang nandun na ako."
"Iniisip ko na everything is a gift and it can be taken any time. Tao din naman tayo, we breathe the same air.
"And ano din, e, naniniwala ako na si Lord kasi, ibinigay ni Lord yun. And pag nag-ano ka, puwedeng mawala."
Asked for advice for people his age also thinking of pursuing life-long dreams, Ronnie offered, "Number one, ask for God's help. Number two, you really have to dream and at the same time work hard for it.
"Hindi naman puwedeng may gusto ako, pero hindi ko naman siya pagtatrabahuhan. Hindi ka mag-i-invest ng effort, ng time. And, it is hard, but not impossible. Darating din 'yan."
Aside from becoming a liscenced pilot, Ronnie still has a lot of dreams he wants to achieve, especially for his showbiz career.
"I still dream yung magkaroon ng sariling movie sa isang mainstream film outfit.
"Magkaroon ng teleserye na lead, magkaroon ng solo concert, and world tour."