A surprise in-flight reunion between a Bermuda resident and her son was the “greatest” Christmas gift a mother could receive.
But the meeting after 16 Christmases apart — captured in a video that has gone viral online over the past two days — was not immediately recognised.
Pureza Smith explained: “I said to myself — he looks like my son.”
Juan Paulo Fermin, Ms Smith’s son, posted the 90-second video on Facebook earlier this week. It was recorded aboard a flight from New York to Manilla, via Vancouver, last Saturday.
It shows Mr Fermin, a Philippine Airlines employee, walking down the aisle of a plane with a bouquet of red flowers in hand.
When he arrives at the row his mother is seated in, it takes her a minute to realise who the man is.
Speaking of the moment she finally recognised her son, Ms Smith said: “I was shocked.”
The video shows mother and son enjoying a hearty hug. Mr Fermin then moves a couple of rows back in the cabin to hug his father, Gregory.
As of this morning, the video had been viewed 1.7 million times.
Ms Smith, 56, who has lived in Bermuda for the past 17 years, said she knew there was a chance that she might see her son this holiday season, but that it was not a certainly.
The Sandys resident, who works at Bermy Cuisine, said that this was her first trip home in five years.
Ms Smith said she will be celebrating the holiday with her family in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. She said family members will be attending a church service before enjoying a big Christmas meal — including a traditional roast pig — with friends.
In his message accompanying the video post, Mr Fermin said that it was “interesting how dreams take form”.
He explained: “Like when a sick loved one prompts a young man to become a doctor, or being with kids who haven’t had the chance to read and write inspires one to teach; as a child, to me it was pretty simple: I wanted to fly my parents home.
“Today, after 16 Christmases apart — and unknown to my parents, I was actually part of the crew that was flying them home for Christmas.
“It’s been a wonderful year for me — a year of dreams turning into reality, and this is definitely the cherry on top. Thank you, Philippine Airlines, for this amazing opportunity.
“Have a merry Christmas, everyone.”
Ms Smith said hearing the importance her son placed on the surprise for her and her husband gave her “goose bumps”.
She added: “I cannot tell you how I feel — I feel so happy.
“This is the greatest Christmas gift.”