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Special Features | National

DUYAN KA NG MAGITING | Heroes who lived to tell their tales

Though missing one arm - the result of an encounter with terrorists in Zamboanga - Cpl. Bonifacio Moncada uses his other arm to salute the Filipino soldier, as the nation marked National Heroes Day this week. PHOTO BY BERNARD TESTA, INTERAKSYON.COM

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - The raging debate over whether the dictator Ferdinand Marcos deserved burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani has again thrust into the forefront of national discourse the question of heroism and who the real Filipino heroes are.

On the eve of National Heroes' Day, InterAksyon.com met at the V. Luna General Hospital with several such genuine heroes, who risked life and limb in service to the country.

Here are their stories:

Colonel Eric De Leon, (GSC) Commanding Officer, V. Luna General Hospital

Colonel Eric De Leon is married to Doctor Marissa De Leon. They have three sons: Carlo, 28, Luis, 19, and Macky 16.

"Childhood dream ko na maging doktorini-encourage ako ng parents ko, elementary pa lang, destiny sabi ng magulang ko (My childhood dream was to be a doctor, my parents encouraged me, I was still in elementary school, my parents said it was destiny)."

He became exposed to military life during his internship at the V. Luna General Hospital and right after graduating in 1985, while waiting for the results of the board exam, he signed up for the Probationary Medical Officers program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with his friend, now AFP Surgeon General Mariano Mejia, and trained for four months.

Kasi civilian nga akona-culture shock ako. First day pa lang gusto ko na mag-quit. Paano ba naman binilad ka sa araw,kasi disiplina dawpinag-jogging ka ‘di ka naman sanayeh hanggang hapon ‘yunSabi ko‘di ko na ‘ata kaya (Because I was a civilian, I was culture shocked. I already wanted to quit the first day. We stood under the sun, because it was supposedly to instill discipline, made to jog and I wasn’t used to it, until the afternoon. I said, I don’t think I can stand this).”

So why did he stay? "Ang ganda ng uniporme, ‘pag naka-uniform katalagang may dating (The uniform was beautiful, when you wore the uniform, you really looked smart)."

Working at V. Luna also allowed him to become one of the top anesthesiologists in the country. "Maipagyayabang din namin na magaling din kaming mga doktor na galing sa Armed Forces, ‘di panay fighting lang, gusto naming higitan o pantayan ‘yung mga kasamahang doktor sa  private practice (We can also boast that doctors from the Armed Forces are good, it is not just about fighting, we also want to surpass or equal our colleagues in private practice)."

But it was his stint at the Camp Siongco station hospital in Zamboanga City that opened his eyes to the importance of the military’s health service. "Unang araw ko pa lang … bakbakan kaagad between MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) atAFP, madaming sugatankapag nakakita sila ng military doctor, ‘di sila feeleng helpless. Nabibigyan namin sila ng pagasamakita lamang kamialam nila mabubuhay sila (My first day … there was fighting between the MNLF and AFP, there were many wounded, when they saw a military doctor, they no longer felt helpless. We gave them hope, just by seeing us, they knew they would live)."

In 1989, De Leon was one of those who extracted wounded SWAT personnel during the siege of Camp Cawa Cawa when rogue policeman Rizal Alih took hostages inside the police facility.

But among his worst experiences was when 400 recruits of the Philippine Constabulary were poisoned during a four-kilometer jog by what they believed to be water handed to them by civilians. "Ang babata … magaganda katawan pero may mga namatay din. Two weeks ang gamutandalawang oras lang ang tulog namin, understaffed kami, one doctor to 30 patients. Nagsusuka sila, heat stroke, dehydration, so ang findings ng investigator, battery solution ang iniabot sa kanilakasi sa sobrang uhaw siguro kaya tinanggap nila ang akala nila ay tubig (They were young … had good physiques but some died. Wwe treated them for two weeks, slept only two hours a day, we were understaffed, one doctor to 30 patients. They were vomiting, suffered heat stroke, dehydration, the investigators concluded they were handed battery solution, but in their thirst they accepted what they believed to be water)."

And in Jolo, he slept on the floor holding his gun amid reports their camp, near an elementary school which was being bombed, might be overrun.

Fear, he said, was a constant companion. “Hindi ka tao ‘pag wala ka noon, ang itinuro sa training ay presence of mind.‘Pag takot ka mabubuhay kapero hindi ka duwag (You wouldn’t be a person without it, we were trained to have presence of mind. If you’re afraid, you will live, but you are not a coward).”

But it isn’t all blood and gore in the military health service. Back at V. Luna after being assigned to conflict zones, De Leon came across a female soldier. "May bumati sa akinnagpasalamatako daw ang nagpaanaknasa birth certificate daw ‘yung name ko as doctor. Natuwa naman akoalam mo sa amin, thank you lang masaya na kami (Someone greeted me, thanked me, said I attended to her when she gave birth, my name was in the birth certificate as attending doctor. I was glad, you know for us, thank you is enough to make us happy)."

"Sa men in uniform, they don’t have to worry. Sila'y masugatanmagkasakitang medical corps, medical health service is always here to support you. We will do our best para kayo ay gumaling kaagadmaalagaanpati dependents ninyoma-rehabilitate ang mga wounded, para kayo ay makabalik at magtrabaho na hindi iniisip ang gastosAng mandate namin is to treat them, dahil kayo ay tunay na mga bayani, because you fight for our country (To the men in uniform, they don’t have to worry. If they’re wounded, get sick, the medical corps, the medical health service is always here to support you. We will do our best to see you get well right away, are cared for, including your dependents, to rehabilitate the wounded, so you can go back to work without worrying about the cost. Our mandate is to treat them, because you are the true heroes, because you fight for our country."

Colonel Maria Victoria Juan, (GSC) Chief Nurse, VLGH

Colonel Juan is married to a retired Navy officer and mother to sons Daniel, 17, and Adrian, 15.

Colonel Juan’s mission is to manage the nursing staff that attends 24/7 to patients at the 1,200-bed capacity military hospital.

“May training din kami, indoctrinated kami sa buhay militar, pero hindi kami combatants. If necessary we have to protect ourselves and protect and defend the patients. They make sure that they have the resources to support the fighting troops so the soldiers can also focus on their work.

“PC (Philippine Constabulary) pa noong araw, my first assignment ay sa  Recom (Regional Command) 8, Leyte, Ako lang siguro ang military nurse na aktibo pa and nakapagserbisyo sa lahat ng branch of service ng AFP, PC,PNP, Army, Navy at Air Force at dahil dito malalim at malawak ang perspektibo ko sa health system ng AFP.”

“Isa sa program ko bilang Chief Nurse sa field hospitals na madalaw ang mga sundalo. para maalagaan namin sila, kung ano ang maitutulong naming. Nagdi-debrief din kami, so hindi lang physical ang tinitingnan namin, ang mahalaga e iyung mental, ‘di mo alam na me sugat na pala sila, may nararamdaman sila na hindi mo nakikita sa physical, may pressure, sobrang stress, imagine mo heightened alert, napapaligiran ka ng mga kawaaay, malayo sa pamilya, minsan nakasagupa ka, puwede mapatay ka o makita mo ‘yung katabi mo mapatay, demoralized ka. (We would go to the troops to take care of them, see how we could help. We would also debrief them, so we didn’t just look at the physical, the mental is also important, you never know when they are suffering, feeling something not evident in the physical, under pressure, too much stress, imagine being on heightened alert, surrounded by the enemy, far from your family, sometimes going into combat, you can be killed or see your comrade die beside you, become demoralized).”

There are times when soldiers need to be referred to psychologists or psychiatrists, she says.

“Sa 26 years ko sa service, hindi ko makakalimutan tulad ng kapitan pa ako sa Southcom, Zamboanga City. May pagsabog sa karatig bayan, after 10 minutes ang daming wounded na sabay-sabay dinala sa aming hospital dahil ito ang pinakamalapit. Hindi ko makalimutan ‘yung isang tao na parang taong grasa balot na balot ng itim na langis tapos putol ang dalawang paa at dalawang braso, bitbit siya ng mga civilian. Akala ko patay na tapos biglang dumilat ang mata. Unang pumasok sa sisp ko paano ko insertan ng swero? Mayro’n pang dumating na beinteng sugatan sa ER na kaya lang mag accomodate ng 2 bed patient, ‘yung mga pasyente nasa floor na, humihingi ng tulong, may mga luwa ang mata, putol na kamay, duguan at hinihila ang palda ko para unahin sila. Pero dahil sa training namin sa mass casualty, agad kami naka recover at inextend capacity and ER. Nilapatan namin ng first aid ang mga ‘yun. (The bomb attack in Zamboanga was a mass casualty situation, after 10 minutes so many wounded were simultaneously brought to our hospital because this was the nearest. I will not forget one man who looked like a street person, wrapped in oil, his legs and arms gone, who was brought in by civilians. I thought he was dead then his eyes opened. Then 20 more people were brought inside the 2 bed patient emergency room. Victims were on the floor, asking for help, there were those whose eyes were outside their sockets, fingers blasted off, bloody. But because of our training we gave them first aid, although we were overwhelmed by their numbers, all together, we extend the capacity of the emergency room to treat all the wounded.)

“Lingid sa kaalaman ng lahat, napaka-importanteng benepisyo ng mga sundalo ay ang libreng health service. Bukod sa pagbibigay ng lunas sa mga karamdaman nila ay tinitiyak din namin na maging malakas sila. Kaligtasan ‘yan, instrumento kami para maligtas sila at pamilya nila. Agad minomonitor ang mga sintomas ng lifestyle related disease tulad ng mataas na BP, mabigat na timbang etc. Ito kasi ang madalas na dahilan kung bakit na oospital o namamatay ang sundalo. ‘di naman 100 percent combat.  (Some may not realize the importance of free health service to soldiers’ lives. It is their lifeline, we are instruments to save their families. The simple act of checking blood pressure, overweight, checking the mental condition of the soldier … Most soldiers die from lifestyle diseases, it isn’t 100 percent combat. )

“It is a wholistic approach, Ibig sabihinay hindi lang kami nakatutok sa pisikal nilang pangangailangan kundi sa mental, emotional at spiritual needs din nila. Ang military hospital ‘pag peace is just like a regular government hospital sa pag bibigay ng serbisyo, pero in times of  conflict, doon kami nag sa shine dahil kami ang last hospital standing, last bastion or beacon of hope sa lahat ng exigencies (It is a wholistic approach,  we give them mental, emotional and spiritual care, the military hospital, in peace is just a regular government hospital, during times of conflict, we shine during crises, it is the last hospital standing, the last bastion or beacon of hope in all exigencies).”

Staff Sergeant Gervel Hipe, 57th ID, 33rd IB, 62nd DRC.

“March 2, 2016, may intel na 100 IED’s ang inilagay o ilalagay ng BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters), kaya nag-operate kami sa lugar (Datu Salibo,Maguindanao). Naka-secure na kami ng isang bahaypero sa nasabugan na ang1st Platoon, kaya nag-hold kamiAko ‘yung nakaapak ng IED. Nakatayo ako noonbuti naglihis ‘yung putokpero tumilapon ako (March 2, 2016, we received intelligence that the BIFF had planted or would plant 100 IEDs, so we mounted an operation in the place. We had already secured one house, but because the 1st Platoon had been hit, we held our position. I was the one who stepped on the IED. I was standing, fortunately the explosion was angled away from me, but I was blown down).”

Nakita ko si (2nd Lieutenant Jerome) Jacuba duguan din dahil sa mga bato at buhangin ang sumalpok sa kanya na ikinabulag ng kanyang mataHindi namin nakita ang IED kasi nga nakabaon sa lupaItinorniquet ko kaagad‘Yung ibang tropa medyo natulala kasi sa lakas ng pagsabog akala siguro nila patay na din sila (I saw Lt. Jacuba also bloodied because he had been hit by rocks and sans, which blinded him. We didn’t see the IED because it was buried in the ground. I immediately applied a tourniquet. The other troops were stunned because the explosion was so strong they thought they were dead).”

Sabi na lang ng CO (commanding officer) namin huwag muna gumalaw habang paparating ang EOD (explosive and ordnance division), pero kami ni Lt. Jacuba ay in-evacuate naSa ilog kami idinaan kasi marami talagang IED (Our CO ordered us not to move until the EOD arrived but I and Lt. Jacuba were evacuated. They had to take us by the river because there were really so many IEDs).”
Naisip ko na lang ‘yung asawa kong si Leah at dalawang anak kokaya tintatagan ko ang loob ko (I thought of my wife Leah and my two children and steeled myself).”
Ngayon life goes on, nabuhay ako salamat sa Diyos at sa mga tropaMag-ingat pa dinpatuloy tayo sa pagsugpo ng mga rebeldemga di kanais-nais na grupo na ang layunin ay labanan ang gobyerno (Now life goes on, I survived thanks to God and my comrades. But we need to be careful and continue suppressing rebels and other groups who want to fight the government).”

Corporal Bonifacio Moncada, 42, 51st IB, 1 ID, assigned to Kuta Major Cesar Sang-an, Zamboanga del Sur

Married to Rosemarie and father to Marifel, 16, and Christopher, 10.

“February 20, 10:45 ng gabinaka-base kami sa munisipyo ng Bayabao Poblacion, Butig, Lanao del Sur.  Isang platoonkami doonmay dalawang bakal o mechanized, ang purpose namin ay pigilan ang mag ri-rido, request ng civilian na magbantay sa mag-aaway na pamilya (February 20, 10:45 p.m., we were at the municipal hall in Bayabao Poblacion, Butig, Lanao del Sur. We were a platoon with two armored vehicles, our purpose was to prevent a clan feud at the request of the civilian authorities).”

“Around 80 kadami na teroristapinasok kami so defensive lang kami‘Yung iba naka (position) sa ilang bahayanim kami sa isang three-story na bahay naka-cover, ‘yung iba nasa harap ng police station, ‘yung iba nasa munisipyo sa kabilang kalsada namin (Around 80 terrorists attacked so we went on the defensive. Some of us were positioned in houses, six of us took cover in a three-story house, the others were in front of the police station, others were at the municipal hall in the next street from us).”

Umabot ng kinabukasan ang bakbakantumawag na kami ng reinforcement, pero ‘yung Mechanized e in-ambush din nilaso medyo nahirapan makalapit sa amin ang tropa (The fighting lasted until the next day, we called for reinforcements but the Mechanized (Brigade) was also ambushed, so the troops had difficulty linking up with us).”

“Defensive fire lang kami hangga’t ‘di kami napapasokpero gumamit ng RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) ang mga kalabantatlong beses kami pinuntirya kaya nag-apoy ang bahay na cover namin (We maintained defensive fire because we weren’t overrun, but the enemy used RPGs, they targeted us three times so the house where we took cover caught fire).”
“3:30 ng hapon lumabas kami papuntang police station sa kabilang kalsadapero may nakaabang na sniper. Tinamaan ako akala ko sa likodbaligtad ako sa loob ng police station, laylay ang kamay koang iniisip ko makapunta sa mga tropa sa munisispyo‘Pag takbo konahulog na ang kamay ko pero pinulot ko pahawak ko ang kamay koNang tumigil ang putoknakatakbo pa ako sa malapit sa munisipyopero natumba na ako sa dami nng dugong nawala (3:30 p.m. we went out to go to the police station on the next street but there was a sniper waiting. I was hit, I thought it was in the back, I tumbled into the police station, my arm was hanging from my side, I thought of linking up with the troops at the municipal hall. When I ran, my arm fell off but I picked it up and held on to it. When the shooting stopped, I managed to run near the municipal hall but I fell because I had lost so much blood).”

Binitbit na ako ng mga tropa at hinila para makapasok sa munisipyobinigyan nila ako ng first aid, sabi ko kay Lord, ‘Gusto ko pang makita ang pamilya koang mga anak ko malilit pa (The other troops picked me up and pulled me inside the municipal building, they gave me first aid, and I told God, ‘I still want to see my family, my children are still young’).”

Tuloy ang bakbakan‘di na kami safe, pero tinorniquet nila akoNang dumating na ang Mechanized, isinakay ako at nai-transfer sa isang 6x6 at nai-transfer sa Lumbatan. 8 p.m. na nang isinakay ako sa isang military ambulance at dinala ako sa 7th Day Adventist Medical Center sa may Iligan (The fighting continued, we were no longer safe, but they applied a tourniquet to me. When the Mechanized finally arrived, they loaded me on and transferred me to a 6x6 truck which transferred me to Lumbatan. 8 p.m. they loaded me onto a military ambulance and took me to the 7th Day Adventist Medical Center in Iligan).”

Dumating kami  10 pm, natira na ako mga ala una sa OR, natauhan ako 6 am, nakita ko na ang asawa ko galing pa ngPagadian City. Akala ko hindi totoonasa labas lang siya ng salaminumiiyaknapaiyak din akosabi ko, ‘Salamat sa Diyos,’ at buhay pa pala ako (We arrived 10 pm, I was taken into the operating room around 1 a.m., I gained consciousness 6 am, I saw my wife who had come from Pagadian City. I thought it wasn’t real, she was staring through the glass, crying, I cried too, and said, ‘Thank God,’ I was still alive).”
Isang milagro ang nangyari dahil ng in-evacuate ako ang tagal pa bago ako nakarating sa Iligan, limang bag na dugo ang isinalin sa akinBumabagabag ang pag-iisip ko sa aking pamliyapero sabi ng misis konang gabi daw na ‘yun panay daw ang vibrate ng cell phone niya kaya napilitan siyang maghanap ng matatawagan. Halos lahat daw ng tawagan niya eout of reach or unattended, kasi nga in pursuit paSuwerte naman ‘yung kasama kong dinala dito sa hospital natawagan ng misis koat sinabihan lang siya na pumunta dito para maalagaan ako (What happened was a miracle because after I was evacuated it took a long time to get me to Ilagan, they used up five bags of blood on me. My mind was troubled thinking of my family, but my wife said, that night her cell phone kept vibrating so she was forced to find someone to call. Everyone she called was either out of reach or unattended because the pursuit was still going on. Luckily she finally reached a comrade who was taken with me to the hospital and was told to go there to take care of me).” 
Kapag dumating na ‘yung prosthetics, ‘di na ako babalik sa combat, siguro sa office puwede pa ako makatrabaho kahit naputulan ng braso‘Di kami pinabayaan ng gobyerno.” 

PFC Dan Antiporta, 33, 8th ID, 34th IB, Scout Platoon

Native of Samar.

“July 13, 2016, 6 am. May objective kami sa area, pa-advance na kamitapos in-ambush kamiDalawang squadkamiSiyempre nakatago ang mga snipers ng BIFF, bale homemade ‘Barrett’ ang ginamit ditonilalagyan lang nila ng tali kasi malayo ang gumagamit nito dahil delikado ‘pag putok baka sila tamaan kasi homemade nga (We had our objective in the area and were advancing when we were ambushed. We were two squads. Of course, the BIFF snipers were concealed, they were using homemade ‘Barrett’ sniper rifles, they would tie ropes to pull the triggers and keep their distance because it was dangerous when they fired since these were homemade).”
A .50 caliber bullet struck Antiporta in the left leg.

Natumba ako sa palayanpero nakakaputok pa akopero ‘di ako basta-basta pumuputok baka i-harass akokawawa ako(I fell down in a rice field but I managed to fire, although I did not shoot too much because they might harass me and I was helpless).”
‘Yung ibang tropa tumalon sa ilog‘yung kasunod ko nag-malfunction ang barilumatras na dinSobra sa isang oras ang bakbakangumapang ako papunta sa tropa ng halos isang oras dinduguanbale tinorniquet ko lang para di ako maubusan ng dugohindi kasi makapunta ang tropa sa akin dahil may .50 caliber ang kalabanpuputukan sila‘di sila makaangat ng ulo (The other troops jumped in the river, the gun of the man behind me malfunctioned and he withdrew as well. The fighting lasted for more than an hour, I crawled towards the others for around an hour as well, bloodied, I applied a tourniquet so I wouldn’t run out of blood, the troops could not come to me because the enemy had a .50 caliber, when it fired they could not even raise their heads).”

‘Yung isang kasama ko ang ayun nga tinamaan sa ulonasa station hospital pa sa Camp Siongco sa Awang, Maguindanao. Pagdating ko sa battalion, sabi ko (sa doctor) unahin na muna kasi nga sa paa lang ako at sa ulo ang tama niyasabi ng doctor huwag mag-alala dahil stable na ‘yung kasamamedyo sumama ang loob ko kasi sa ulo siya tinamaan (One of my comrades was hit in the head and is still at the station hospital in Camp Siongco in Awang, Maguindanao. When I reached the battalion, I told the doctor to treat him first because my wound was in the leg his was in the head, but the doctor said not to worry because he was stable, I felt bad because he had a head wound).”
Bale lalagyan din ng bakal itong paa koin-order na daw sabi dito sa V. Luna, pero ‘di ko pa masabi kung kailan ako lalabas siguro after six months. Pero ang gusto ko bumalik sa serbisyo kasi ito na ang trabaho kokahit na sumabak ulit ako sa encounter (They will put a steel brace in my leg, they told me here at V. Luna that it has been ordered, but I can’t say when I can leave maybe after six months. But I want to return to the service because this is my work, even if I have to be in an encounter again).”

Hindi ko masabi na bayani ako o kamimahirap magbuhat ng bangkoLahat siguro kami ay bayanikahit ‘yung hindi nasugatan o namataykasi may sakripisyo na ginagawa ang bawa’t isang sundalo, infantry man o support service (I cannot say if I or we are heroes, it’s hard to boast. Maybe all of us are heroes, even those who have never been wounded or died, because every soldier sacrifices, whether in the infantry or support service).” 

2nd Lieutenant Lhelyn Batomalaque, 42

Native of Zambonaga Del Norte, Married to Rima.

August 19, 2016. Batomalaque was leading a team providing security to a medical and gift-giving mission of Dingalan Mayor Sherwin Taay when the two motorboats they were riding were fired on by New People’s Army guerrillas in Sitio Singawan, Barangay Umiray.

They all jumped in the river and, after securing the civilians, the soldiers fired back, engaging their attackers for about five minutes.

Napansin ko na may tama na ako dahil nabitawan ko na ang baril kosa right forearm. Habang nag pursuit operationang mga tropana evac na ako at dinala sa station hospital. Nilagyan ng fixator para mabilis na rehabilitation (I noticed I was hit because I had let go of my rifle, in the right forearm. While the troops mounted a pursuit operation, I was evacuated to the station hospital. They put a fixator to make rehabilitation faster).”
Salamat sa Diyos at dito lang ang tama ko, after 4 months ay makakabalik na ako sa serbisyosiguro fully healed na ito.Ang pinaka-oath namin ay (Thank God I was only hit here, after four months I can return to service, this will probably be fully healed. Our oath is) serving the people, whether we like it or not, by all means, making the environment peaceful and conducive to their people, we will dedicate broken bones and sticky blood for the people, we swear to serve and protect.”

He is now in stable condition at the VLGH watched by his wife.

Private First Class Gilbert Camos, 23, 8th IB, Alpha Company

Native of Lanao del Norte

“April 14, Barangay Amaloy, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan, conduct ambush kamimag-establish kami ng spot para abangan ang kalabanSobrang dilimmga 9 pm noonsa may bandang rear ng section napadaan ang mga Abu Sayyaf.Nagkabakbakan namga 20 kami pero sa tingin naman mas madami ang kalabanTumagal isang oras ang labanang iniisip ko na lang maka-withdraw kami bago malagasanPero nagka-hiwahiwalay na kamiiisa lang ang night vision goggles namin. Nang matamaan akosumigaw ako na may tama ako at tinulungan ako ni Lieutenant Gary Estrada at Sergeant Garde, binuhat nila ako habang pa-withdraw kamimay putukan pa (April 14, in Barangay Amaloy, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan, our mission was to conduct an ambush, establish a spot from where we could wait for the enemy. It was so dark, it was around 9 pm, the Abu Sayyaf passed by the rear of the section. Fighting broke out, there were about 20 of us but we sensed the enemy were more than us. The fighting lasted about an hour, all I could think of was to withdraw before we suffered casualties. But we became separated and we only had one set of night vision goggles. When I was hit, I shouted out and I was helped by Lieutenant Gary Estrada and Sergeant Garde, they carried me as we withdraw, there was still fighting).”

Camos had been hit in the left leg by an M16 bullet.

Na-organise kami sa tabi ng kalsadahumingi kami ng reinforcement, nagpalipad ng OV-10 (fighter) at nagbagsak sila ng bombamga 20 minutes after dumating na ang Simba (armored personnel carrier), extraction na nag-withdraw na kami(We organized ourselves by the roadside and asked for reinforcements, they deployed an OV-10 which dropped bombs and after 20 minutes the Simba arrived to extract us and so we withdrew).”
Pangatlong encounter ko na itopero ‘di mo naman alam kasi kung saan manggagaling ang balaBuo naman ang loob koinisip ko ito ng maraming beses kung papasok ba ako sa ganitopero natamaan ako naisip ko hanggang dito na lang akoHindi mo pa ma-feel ‘yung sakitmamanhid ka lang tapos after five minutes ‘pag nakasagap na nang hangin ang sugatmaramdaman mo na ang sakit (This was my third encounter, but you never know where the bullet will come from. I am resolved, I thought many times whether I would go into this, but when I was hit I thought maybe this is where I stop. At first you don’t feel the mind, it feels numb then after five minutes when the wound is exposed to air, you start to feel the pain).”

Dito ko napatunayan kung gaano matulungin ang tropa dahil kung naiwan akobaka patay na ako (It was here I proved how helpful the troops are because if I had been left behind, I probably would be dead).”
Babalik ako sa unit ko sa Basilan after six months sigurokasi ako ang breadwinner sa aming pamilya at 11 ang mga kapatid ko (I am returning to my unit in Basilan maybe after six months because I am the breadwinner in our family and I have 11 siblings).”
 

Technical Sergeant Ferdinand Baltazar, former peacekeeper, Golan Heights

"Bilang Philippine contingent, nag o-observe kami ng violations ng dalawang bansa, Israel at Syria. Neutral ang atingmission, ‘yung member ng Syrian Arab Armed Forces minsan nanghihingi ng pagkainbinibigyan namin silanakikipag-usap din kami sa mga civilian, binibigyan namin sila ng mga gamot as part of the humanitarian mission (As the Philippine contingent, we watched out for violations by the two countries, Israel and Syria. Our mission was neutral, sometimes members of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces would ask us for food and we would give them some, we also talked to civilians, we gave them medicines as part of the humanitarian mission)."

 

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