Today I choose to celebrate the life of a soldier. I do not know him well but I know him. He was that silent guy who salutes everytime he meets me. He calls me sir. That was several years ago, when we were both cadets at the Philippine Military Academy. I graduated a year ahead of him and have not seen him since. I even paused for some time trying to recall his face upon learning of his death. Later, my Facebook wall is filled with tributes of his heroism. In one post documenting the visit of Chief of Staff General Irriberi, familiar faces were on the background His classmates, my classmates and many others that belonged to our generation of cadets at the Academy. One would think that it was a reunion of some sort led by the incumbent Chief of Staff who, at the time when we were cadets, was also the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Military Academy under then Superintendent General Maligalig. But it was not. It was a sad occasion. It was better not seeing those familiar faces as long as everyone is safe and alive.
We meet again today. Well, it was a meeting of some sorts. I wake up in the morning being told that his body will be flown by a C-130 plane to Davao where he will then be transported to his hometown in Panabo City, just the City next to Davao. My Battalion, which is the CMO Battalion for the Division, was tasked to document his arrival. As the Operations Officer, I was to orchestrate this task. So it is just a meeting of some sort. It will be like that because he is in heaven now and I will never really get to meet him again.
His information is sent to me. He was 31, married and with two kids. Everything else are the same information I have already read from the news and feeds on my Facebook wall. What comes to mind though is this guy who I remember watching in one of the boxing matches in PMA. I do not remember if he won, it’s just that I remember him in his boxing outfit. Then I remember a post from one of his squadmates. The post said that there was a time that she (the squadmate is a girl) wanted to resign from being a cadet and just go home. She said that he talked to her and motivated her. She ended by saying that it was what kept her inside the Academy. That lady graduated and is now in active service. And then there’s another one, his underclass buddy. He said that they had good memories together. He thanked him for teaching him and guiding him during cadetship. The same guy is also in the active service.
The stories I tell now are just bits of pieces of a man who paid the ultimate sacrifice to this country. According to reports, he was hit on a major artery in his thigh. He was initially given first aid but expired an hour and a half after. From the report, he is the only casualty.
So today, I choose to celebrate the life of a soldier. A lot of reports have been released on his death, but then, he was an ordinary person. He chased his dreams and dedicated his life to this country. I believe that if more of those who really knew him will say their piece of what a fine person he is, perhaps we can celebrate his life and bring greater dignity to that life that was taken away by the enemies of this country.