Thursday, June 07, 2007

In the ARMY: Getting in terms with reality

So I begin to write after a very long absence. I did not realize that I was not able to say goodbye until I was already out of the Internet world. But then, the beauty of my hiatus is that I was able to gain more insight on my life in general and so the blogging continues.

A while ago, I started to write about the events that have happened in the more than 20 days I was out. I started to recall how I hated the climate at Fort Magsaysay and wishing that I will not be assigned in that area. But then I realized there was more to what has become of me beyond the heat I endured, I could say that I am a different person now.

I never thought that I will realize it this early but while I was away, I realized I was right in choosing to join the Army. I remember last March when I started to entertain the thought of making the wrong decision at choosing the branch of service I will join. Although I knew what I was going into, I wasn't sure that I really was up for it or if my decision was guided by divine wisdom. But I did choose carrying with me that uncertainty and a glimmer of hope that in time I will understand.

The Army, at least our Philippine Army, is not that glamorous as those that we see in war movies. Ours, as one officer would put it, was "laging kulang sa resources pero laging sobra sa trabaho." It wasn't good to hear that from a veteran soldier and as I try my best to bear with the scorching heat, my doubts grew, maybe I was wrong. The experience was compounded by road runs in full battle gear still under the terrible heat of the sun, I just wanted to collapse. But then again, I was already there and I clinged to that glimmer of hope I knew was there when I made my choice about a month ago. When I came to the Infantry Battallion I was assigned to for On the Job Training, I was met with a dilapidated barracks full of mosquitoes. To top it all, I hear the encouraging words of my Officer in Charge: "Maganda na tong Barracks na to, sa ibang units mas malala pa dito." There goes a good Army encouragement.

But then again, people do not stay in the Army for the reasons that made me feel bad about my choice. Though I wonder the implication of the choice I made, at the back of my mind is this feeling of assurance knowing that my father made the Army his career. So I continued.

The bunker I occupied in the Rifle Company I went to was no different from the barracks I had in the Battallion Headquarters. The only significant difference was that the mosquitoes were bigger and fiercer. In the first night, I immersed myself with reading the documents recovered during enemy raids and for a few hours I forgot all the complains I had and became completely into the heads of the rebels I will be fighting. The documents varied from poems, songs of both mainstream and revolutionary themes, their activities and believe it or not, unsent letters to their loved ones expressing their longings. Somehow, I could feel the humanity of the people that I will fight when the time comes. More than the ideologies that they were fighting for, I felt the uneasiness realizing that like me, they too are human beings.

Later into the night, I came face to face with a rebel who has returned into the arms of the government. His stories were glaring and although he was once fighting the government, like the people I vowed to protect, he was also lied upon by the same ideology that he once fought for. I realized that the people that I fight are also the same people that I protect.

The day ended with me retiring to the comforts of the hard surface that was to become my bed. I had to cover my ears so as not to be distracted by the constant murmuring of the insects around me probably conspiring to torment me in my sleep. There goes the beginning of my life in the Army.
to be continued...

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