Monday, June 14, 2010

I am a soldier and I am happy

For the past 33 years, I have been into a lot of trials, challenges and sacrifices.

When I got wounded in combat, I thought it was the end of my career. Instead, it even strengthened my will to fight.
I thought soldiery was only about being assigned at critical areas in Mindanao, such as Jolo, Basilan, Davao Oriental, Bukidnon and South Cotabato. Well, late in my career, I also experienced assignments in Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato cities.
Trials are part of soldier’s life. Failure to pass these trials could lead to endless frustrations.

Actually soldiery is a difficult profession. We save lives and protect the people from harm and yet, we let our lives always at risk.
Some friends told me that our pay is not worth our lives. But my mind keeps telling me that the honor the service gives me everyday is also something that money can’t pay.
Challenges keep a soldier moving. Addressing these challenges squarely leads to maturity in the service.

In training, we experienced the worst and learned how to survive. We were made to believe in the old saying, “we sweat blood and tears in training so that we can live in battles.”
When I stepped in the battlefield, I knew everything would change. I was forced by circumstances to leave my parents, relatives and friends. The irony was, I became close to people whom I do not even have any blood relation.
Sacrifices are the cost of soldier’s success. It is like an investment, the profit will come later.

After all these years, I can always humbly say that I live my life to the fullest in the service.
Trials brought me in many places of our country where so few had been.
Challenges helped me solved the puzzles of what life is all about.
Sacrifices gave strength that kept me alive.
And the most important thing is, I am happy. #

(The subject, 55 and a native of Rosales, Pangasinan, holds the rank of staff sergeant and is assigned at Headquarters, Headquarters Service Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division. He is happily married with three children and has already been staying in Mindanao for the past 32 years.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kung minsan...

Sa linya daw ng aming trabaho, ‘di dapat nag-iisip, sunod lang daw dapat nang sunod.
Kaya lang kung minsan, nabibigyan ng pagkakataon… tulad ngayon.

Kung minsan, naiisip ko, bakit ba may gyera pa sa atin, sa ibang lugar naman wala?
Kung minsan, natatakot ako na baka segunda mano ang mga gamit namin sa trabaho dahil may iba na namang yumaman sa pagbili ng mga ito.

Kung minsan, ang ingay-ingay, pero mas madalas na wala kang maririnig sa kapaligiran.
Kung minsan, nagigising ako ng alanganing oras, hindi ko alam kung may mangyayaring hindi maganda o kailangan ko lang tumayo at maghanda na.

Kung minsan, magtataka ka naman kung bakit ang gaganda ng gamit ng mga kasamahan namin sa trabaho, e pareho lang naman ang sahod namin.
Kung minsan, kailangan rin sigurong aminin na mataas na ang aming natatanggap. Kaya lang naman nagkukulang ay dahil masyado ring tinaas ng iba ang kanilang pangangailangan ng wala sa lugar.

Kung minsan, maiinis ka naman -- kakausapin na lang at papakinggan ang mga sibilyan, pinipili pa na nilang awayin.
Kung minsan, mabibigla ka rin -- napaka-simple ng problema, napaka-kumplikado ang ginagawa nilang solusyon.

Kung minsan, natatanong ko sa sarili ko, bakit ba kami malayo sa aming pamilya samantalang ‘yung iba, lagi naman kasama ang kanilang asawa at mga anak?
Kung minsan, nakakagulat kung bakit kami lapitin ng mga babae. Dahil ba sa mga benepisyong matatanggap kapag may mangyaring ‘di maganda sa amin, o sadyang gwapo lang talaga kami?

Pagpasensyahan ‘nyo na kung nalabas ko ngayon ang aking mga naiisip, susunod din naman ako sa mga utos nila e.
Minsan lang naman ito. #

Saturday, June 5, 2010

6ID: At your service across Central Mindanao

These are the winning entries of the photo contest called, "Election Day in Central Mindanao... a photo contest for peace!"

Our objective was to tell to the whole nation, to include the world, how we conducted an "honest, orderly, and peaceful election" in Central Mindanao. We hope that these pictures, to include the reported situations in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato during the election day, would show how we all worked together here to achieve what we all wished for. #

Friday, June 4, 2010

Voted... for peace

An absentee voter’s experience

I casted my vote 11 days ahead of the 45 million Filipinos who are registered to vote on May 10, 2010.

It was literally a manual type of voting done in an old multi-purpose hall inside a military camp.

I thought it was a semi-automated voting procedure using the ballot format for PCOS machine but instead, I was given a small piece of paper with blank spaces to write my votes.

I also thought that the voting area was a closed and well-ventilated room but instead, it was a humid makeshift space with small chairs and long tables just enough for four voters to vote at a time.

There was no sample ballot to be found anywhere and the names of the list of candidates for the president, vice-president, senators and party list groups were written in very small letters on white pieces of paper stapled on the top of the table.

Three COMELEC representatives were watching while another three authorized military personnel acting as election officers facilitating the election procedures.

I wanted to complain on the initial process but instead, I kept all my frustrations within myself and focused on the more important reason on why I was there -– to cast my vote.

It took me more or less five minutes to fill-up my ballot with my chosen candidates.

It could have been much lesser time if I did not have a hard time searching for my preferred party list group in a very long list of candidates running for congressional seats (I wonder if this was really the intent of the party list system law that was passed in the 1990s.).

When I returned to the election officers who were seated beside each other to submit my vote, one of them ordered me to place my thumb mark first on my ballot.

It was another frustrating experience of thumb marking process considering that there are available sets of technology equipment in the local market for such procedure.

After complying, an election officer assisted me to place my ballot inside a white envelop and guided me to close it and patch a special election seal on it.

The surprising procedure was when the election officer gave me another white envelop and place my sealed vote inside it and sealed it again before dropping it inside the ballot box.

Before I left the makeshift poll center, I asked a COMELEC representative when will my vote be counted and she said that it will be counted in Metro Manila immediately after the voting period on May 10.

Actually, it was really not a question about the procedure. It was a question made to reassure myself that I was part of the whole exercise of choosing our country’s next leaders.

After I left the makeshift poll center, I was happy and satisfied.

I voted and it was a vote about peace… for myself and for my country. #