Sunday, September 04, 2022

4 Years since the last post

 It has been 4 years.

After being banned from using Facebook where I have since posted my thoughts in lieu of this blog, I have had a lot of moments thinking about things but have not written about them. I now find myself going back to this blog which, while I may have neglected it, has remained steadfast in being an outlet for what is going through my mind. Here's to me promising again to work on this blog.

I have just watched the movie We are Marshalls. I ran through a list of Sports Movies that are based on true stories and decided to watch the movie again as I have not remembered the movie from when I previously watched it. Well, I will not be writing about the movie but will write about how I found myself tearing up watching the movie.

I have always been a sucker for good stories, and it is probably in the pursuit of these stories that I find myself being passionate about the things that I do. I teared up because I felt how the realness of the grief that they conveyed over the death of their Football Team and how they succeeded in recovering from that grief.

Probably the frustrations that bother me right now is the fact that I may not be good enough for the tasks that are given to me. I started writing this blog from the time when I was a mere cadet who wanted to have a bright future. A lot has changed and I think I have done so many wonderful things since then. I can only surmise that the things that I enjoyed which in turn I cultivated have significantly contributed to the things that I do now in the Army. Who would have thought that right now, my primary function is to tell the stories that the Army needs to tell to the public?

But going back to the movie, I was able to relate to how every character was able to contribute to the outcome despite them being in grief also. Right now, I have come to understand that the frustrations I am experiencing are part of the whole dynamic of the good things in store in the future. I would say that I am in a good place right now in terms of my family, my career, and my life in general. Being in that place, however, does not make me exempted from life frustrations. The frustrations are there and the reason why I relate so much to the movie I just watched is that deep inside, I know that in the end, as long as I continue to persevere, I will win.

Today is September 4, 2022. I will go back to this post in the future and will remember the feelings that I have right now. When that time comes, I will laugh at myself because by that time, I have won.

Friday, February 02, 2018

The right to free speech

I wouldn't want to argue with my UP friends over the President's statement of giving the slots of those who joined the walk out to deserving students who wanted to avail of quality education, but for the purpose of just saying my piece just let me post this on my blog. As a young high school student then in Silliman University, I found myself with the League of Filipino Students. I would cut class just to join their activities. I was proud of myself wearing my high school uniform discussing issues in front of college students. Until one professor told me that if I keep on going to the college classrooms, I will never be able to really go into college classrooms for real. Fast forward, I graduated high school, got into some college then went to PMA and the rest is history. Some of my friends in LFS then were eventually captured as members of the NPA, another one is still very much active as a part of Kabataan Partylist, I heard there was a time that he was imprisoned. When Jo Lapira of UP Manila was killed in an encounter in Batangas as a member of the NPA, many students from UP hailed her idealism, her courage to stand for what she believes in, to advance her ideas as an armed combatant against the government. But just like my friends from LFS then, they are either in prison, dead or continue to lead rallies. I seriously doubt if they have actually contributed any good for this country other than espouse their idealism to the ends of the earth. Personally, my involvement with these groups allowed me a better perspective at society. I took up that one week course on Philippine Society and Revolution, went to communities somewhere in Mabinay, met with National Leaders of LFS, received the Kalayaan Newsletter (and religiously burned them after I read it), learned how to play Buhay at Bukid in guitar, idolized Buklod for a while, spray painted some walls in Dumaguete with Mabuhay so and so. I was totally immersed with activism until that professor (he's Sir Gabas by the way) put me in my place, I was never going to college for real if I did not do what i was supposed to do as a student, which is to study. I was reading some comments earlier claiming that they can still pass their subjects because the grading system is not about attendance. But no matter how one argues, one goes to school to learn their field, graduate and be productive members of society. I am not questioning idealism, nor activism, I am merely saying the obvious, something that has been blurred to many of our students in these organizations. It is not by accident that members of these groups end up leaving school and joining the NPA. These groups may deny it to the ends of the earth but all these activities in UP (and other schools) are part of the CPP NPA NDF's IPO (as in Ideological Political Organizational) works to recruit people into the armed group or be leaders for their legal fronts. The student sector with their idealism and capacity to become cadres provide that opportunity. I think the President has been very candid in his dislike on what the students of our state university are doing. He too is expressing his freedom of expression. In a democracy where we enjoy the sacred right to free speech/expression, everyone can criticize each other including a President who will criticize others. But when a certain group cries foul when they are criticized by the President while they burn his effigy and demand his ouster, that is simply being unfair, one sided and wrong. I believe that these rallies should be seen in the context of what is its real intention rather than focusing on it being an exercise of ones right to free speech and expression. The intention of this basic right is on the belief that a society that allows the free flow of ideas is a mechanism to elevate that society for the better. We all have our own idea of what is it that actually "elevates our society for the better" but I am sure that being part of the New People's Army or calling for the ouster of a duly elected President does not elevate our society (may Presidente na ba tayong hindi rinallyhan ng mga grupo na yan na magresign?). I just exercised my right to free speech, I hope this elevates our society.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The reminder of National Heroes Day

Today is National Heroes Day – a day of great significance especially for those of us who serve as soldiers of the Philippine Republic. These days, when my soldier life has become less of the dangerous combat missions, I have seen more of the heroism in the people I worked with and the many soldiers I have encountered. For one, I now interact more to people outside my organization. Conversations with them provide better insight and better appreciation. When I listen to people’s perception of the life of a soldier, I learn that the life that many of us live (or sacrificed) has so much to appreciate – so much to give so much to offer.

In occasions such as National Heroes Day, we are forced to look into ourselves and wonder how we are part of this commemoration. We come to ask what significant contributions we have really done for the nation.

Over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte was the guest of honor for the 10th year anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command. It was his third visit to military units within the Davao Region, two of which happened to condole with the family of our fallen comrades who died in combat. I hear in the news that he led today’s National Heroes Day Celebration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig. A little later, he is at the wake of PO1 Gary Cabaguing in Samar. Cabaguing was killed during an anti drug operation as part of the team that served a warrant of arrest on a known drug suspect five days ago.

In the first two months of his Presidency, he mostly visited AFP and PNP camps and wakes of those who died in action. No president in my recent memory has done that. No national politician I can remember has done that. I have not seen any local politician visit the wake of my fallen comrades in my time in the field even if the wake was just across that politician’s house. None of those soldiers or policemen who died he personally knew. He was just there.

Just like what the President is doing, the heroes that we honor today made the harder choice and sacrificed their life for this country. We honor them because despite of whatever form of fear, confusion or hesitation they had, they still did what they did and died for it. I remember the sacrifice of one Sergeant Claudio Forrosuelo who, having realized that his whole battalion was encircled by attacking MILF rebels in August 2000, organized a group of soldiers who will hold the ground in order for the rest of his unit to extricate and fight another day. Accounts of soldiers who came back the next day would reveal the lifeless body of Sgt Forrosuelo surrounded by many dead rebels. He is now buried in nearby Tagum City and perhaps the only Medal of Valor awardee in this part of the country. Inspired by his heroism, his daughter, who at the time of his death was too young to comprehend what his father has done, later joined the Philippine Military Academy and is now a second lieutenant in the Army.

Many of us will not be placed in that situation but all of us can choose to sacrifice something for this country. All of us can forego of our fears, our confusion and whatever hesitation if in the end that decision will have some contribution for the good of this country. When we look at the many problems plaguing this country, it is not easy to understand why we are in the mess we are right now. We refuse to do what must be done and we refuse to offer ourselves for this country. Very few of us are willing to sacrifice for this country. The least that we can really do is to be there for this country. To be Filipinos that contributes positively for the Philippines.

Today’s commemoration is about honoring the selfless acts done for this country. We honor our National Heroes not for their feats of heroism but for the aspiration for which the heroism was made. We honor them because their action was in consideration for something greater than themselves; it was for the Filipino People as a whole.

Yesterday, I was asked during a guesting in a local radio program, what are my thoughts on the ongoing Peace Talks. My answer was short of saying that the President voted by 16 million Filipinos should be trusted that his decision is what is best for this country. At the back of my mind was the fear that the many NPAs we have fought hard to put behind bars will all be released. I fear that the CPP-NPA-NDF will take advantage of the truce and use the opportunity to regroup and rearm. I fear that the cabinet secretaries they fielded will take advantage of their positions for their own agenda. Actually, I fear many things but if this is what it takes to find peace for our country it must be done.

Our country now is in trying times. We are in challenged by many things that will determine our future as a nation. Today’s celebration is perhaps a reminder how we are to act as a people, as Filipinos. Perhaps if we can do that, then maybe, just maybe the future ahead is bright and wonderful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Celebrating the life of Mike Nollora

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.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fighting Back

I contemplated in having to do these. I have always felt that resorting to shaming another in social media is just low. But with this situation I think social media can be a lot of help not just to gain some advantage but also to illustrate how ordinary consumers can just be pushed over by big companies. In this case, it's Smart Communications.

For several weeks now I have been hounded with text messages like this:

I initially ignored this, I have previously made some transaction with SMART with my overpayment but was told to present the receipts which was already lost. Their records show that I indeed overpayed P1400 pesos, even the website where accounts can be checked showed the overpayment, yet they insist that I present the receipt. I resigned myself to just let the matter go to spare me the hassle of following up the transaction just to be refunded with that amount.

Just this morning, I again received another of those text messages, this time my patience was just exhausted. I went to the computer and wrote this email

More than anything, I feel bad that these companies can harass their clients with legal action just because they can hire law firms to do the dirty job for them. And yet, because the consumers are ransomed with the need to communicate with one another, they can choose to ignore our constant clamor to assist us when we have problems with their services. Many consumers, like me, do not have the capacity to bring them to court or have the means to file a complaint with the National Telecommunications Commission. We make do with our shitty experience with their services and just accept our helplessness when they do not resolve our issues or much more, ignore us. We make do because its a choice between their service or being unable to communicate with the whole world. And as if it is not yet enough, they dare threaten us with legal action when they feel they have been robbed with a few pesos from their already large pockets.

I am a government employee and have the means to pay the 900 pesos that they claim I owe them. But they are a big company and they have all the means to pay me back the money that they owe me. The big difference is that they can hire a law firm to harass me to force me to pay them and I can not. That disparity illustrates the kind of consumer environment ordinary Filipinos experience.I hope that something could be done about this, consumers in this country do not have to be ransomed by these companies