Letting go of an old dream is probably one of the hardest decisions anyone has to face.
But the lessons it imparts are priceless, and essential for one's personal growth.
This was what social media influencer Mann Ed Demalata realized when he decided to stop chasing his showbiz dream, spread his wings and literally reach for the skies.
In an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) via e-mail and Facebook Messenger, Mann Ed admitted that becoming a celebrity or a pilot was his biggest dream.
The 33-year-old pilot said, "When I was young, very ambitious ako. I liked to watch a lot of TV shows and I knew kaya ko yung mga ginagawa ng mga artista like singing, dancing, acting, and hosting.
"I even did MYX VJ for a day before in college."
He added, "Nung bata ako, I also wanted to be a pilot but I didn’t think that it would be possible kasi alam ko na mahal mag-pilot."
Mann Ed was just grateful that his parents Eddie and Grace Demalata were very supportive and allowed him to pursue his dreams.
He said, "Sobrang thankful lang ako sa parents ko na they supported me in any decisions that I make."
SHORT-LIVED SHOWBIZ CAREER
Mann Ed tried his luck in showbiz at the age of 16.
One of his most memorable showbiz moments was when he auditioned for StarStruck Batch 2 in 2004. Mike Tan and Ryza Cenon emerged as the Ultimate Survivors of the said Kapuso reality talent search.
Although he didn't make it as a finalist, Mann Ed continued chasing his dream of becoming an artista.
After joining StarStruck, he did some workshops with GMA and appeared in some of the network's shows like Magpakailanman and Kakaba-Kaboo.
At that time, he was managed by the late entertainment columnist Dinno Erece.
He recalled, "Marami akong sinalihan nung teenager ako.
"When I was studying noon, I was also modeling, doing fashion shows, and small time TVCs. Those were the days.
"I still remember those memories dahil yun ang nagbibigay sa akin ng inspirasyon to do better."
Mann Ed continued, "Grabe, ganoon pala ang feeling na mag-audition sa isang malaking TV competition. All contestants were different.
"I remember wearing my 'pangmalakasang' clothes kasi siyempre I wanted na mapansin.
"But experiences naman doing TV shows were fun and siyempre, nakatulong sa akin. Hanggang sa na-realize ko, it wasn’t for me talaga."
The rejections got to Mann Ed, and he eventually decided to let go and focus instead on achieving his second-biggest dream.
Mann Ed said, "Major turning point was my disappointment dahil hindi naman ako nakakapasok sa showbiz. It just felt like I didn't belong there.
"Palaging muntikan lang like sa auditions. Palaging top 50 ganyan. Even sa commercials.
"Hanggang final casting lang and kapag sa oras na pipiliin na, wala na dahil may mas magaling at good looking kaysa sa akin.
"My parents gave me the freedom to do anything I want as long as I never neglected my studies."
Mann Ed admitted that he felt disappointed seeing the careers of his batchmates take off.
Although disheartened, he accepted the thought that he wasn't really cut out for showbiz.
Mann Ed told PEP.ph, "Nalungkot and na-disappoint lalo na nung nakikita ko na batchmates ko sa GMA workshop ay nag-take off ang careers nila.
"Batchmate ko kasi sina Paulo Avelino, Jessy Mendiola, LJ Reyes, Mike Tan, and Ryza Cenon sa GMA acting workshop.
"But na-realize ko rin and natanggap na not everyone can enter showbiz and hindi talaga siguro para sa akin kaya I accepted God’s plan."
After his failed attempt at showbiz, Mann Ed focused on his studies. He finished his bachelor's degree in Political Science at Letran College in Manila.
In July 2010, he started his pilot training at Masters Flying School in Pasay City and Alpha Aviation in Clark Pampanga. He was able to finish flight school in just a year and a half, around December 2011.
In 2012, he was hired and became a co-pilot at PAL Express. In 2016, at the age of 28, Mann Ed was promoted and became one of the country's youngest captains.
He was able to set the bar high, making him an inspiration for young pilots at that time.
He proudly shared, "Considered kami as next generation of young pilots na hindi super strict. Nakasanayan kasi na strict ang pilots.
"If I were to describe myself as a pilot, I would say chill lang and super bait ako na piloto. Masaya lang sa flight.
"Kasi mahirap na ginagawa namin sa flight and serious e, so I really do my best to lighten up the mood palagi ng flight crew ko without sacrificing of course yung safety ng flight."
Several years later, Mann Ed found himself in the limelight, but this time as a social media influencer.
As of October 10, 2021, Mann Ed has garnered over 230,000 followers on Instagram.
It was in 2020 when he noticed that his Instagram following started increasing, after aviation-related Facebook pages and Instagram accounts started reposting his posts.
Netizens took interest in his stories about flight crew members and what it was like for them being airborne, especially at the time when the aviation industry was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mann Ed said, "I post a lot of stories and photos on Instagram, featuring and showcasing my flying experiences as a pilot.
"Then last year, so honored, maraming sikat na Instagram accounts na nag-feature sa akin because of my content—which is pilot stuff nga.
"I guess people are interested din na malaman, ano ba talaga ang buhay naming mga piloto, na nasa himpapawid?
"I know, that time, kaya ako nag-post nang ganun, para i-share ang journey ng isang pilot. Our job is not an easy job.
"Some of flying crew members lost their jobs dahil sa pandemic, dahil walang flights."
Having a huge following also made Mann Ed realize how powerful social media is. This is also the main reason why he shares inspiring stories.
The 33-year old influencer-pilot added, "I always think before I post. Hindi lang dapat ang masasarap na pagkain o mamahaling suot. It’s really your message.
"I also use my platform to encourage the youth, our young generation, to vote."
Mann Ed now feels fulfilled with what he has achieved, even if he took a detour to achieve success.
He said, "I’m very fulfilled now sa aking career as an airline pilot. And I get to influence other aspiring pilots using my Instagram.
"Masaya rin ako para sa mga naging batchmates ko GMA workshop who are now brilliant actors."
The PAL Express pilot hopes that the stories he shares on Instagram continue to inspire young Filipinos to achieve their dreams.
Mann Ed said, "Siyempre, I share my flying journey on Instagram kasi I have followers na mga student pilot and future pilots who always say na I inspire them."
As for a piece of advice he would like to share to aspiring pilots, he said, "I told them to continue doing what they love to do.
"Be a good citizen first and everything will follow na. Matutupad din nila ang pangarap nilang maging piloto sa kabila ng pandemya.
"And to all flight crew members who lost their jobs ngayong pandemic, don’t lose hope, pray, and keep fighting."
Mann Ed is now chasing another dream: become an established entrepreneur.
In 2020, he started his own t-shirt company called @pilotoncall_shirt on Instagram where he sells pilot uniforms.