Memoirs of an Infantry Company Commander

A few weeks ago, I was browsing my FB friends’ photos when surprisingly, I found a short article written by a former Infantry, Company Commander which happens to be my “mistah” or classmate at the Academy. Eventually, I asked him if I could feature his story for my blog. Well, I received a thumbs up icon on my messenger so here it is.

Now, let me share his story.

This former Company Commander was formerly assigned in the Province of Mindoro. By the way, Mindoro is the 7th largest island in the Philippines, which has a rich culture and history since the time of the Chinese traders, Spanish conquerors until the devastating second World War. Tagalog is the principal dialect of the people of Mindoro with several indigenous languages in some parts of the island. One of the most prominent indigenous people are the Mangyans. Compared to the indigenous head hunting tribes of Northern Luzon, Mangyans preferred to live a peaceful society. They even practice animism as their religion.

Atlas of the Philippines from https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Atlas of the Philippines from https://commons.wikimedia.org/

“Me talking to a Mangyan: “Ilan ang anak mo?”
Mangyan: “Wala.”
Me: “Eh sino yung mga nakasunod sa iyo?”
Mangyan: “Anak ng misis ko.”
Boom!!! Buti, na lang di mainitin ang ulo ko.
Sundalo: “Magkano yung kambing?”
Mangyan: “ISANG LIBO.”
Sundalo: “Ang mahal naman, di ba puedeng EIGHT HUNDRED na lang.”
Mangyan: “Di puede, LIBO ang presyo nito sa baba.”
Sundalo: “Kung KALAHATING LIBO, payag ka?”
Mangyan: “O sige, payag ako.””

Captain Matib with his Mangyan friends

Captain Matib with his Mangyan friends

“Mangyans… These people are native to Mindoro. When I was a company commander, I have spent a lot of time with them. The Mangyans are commonly exploited because they are meek and unwise due to the absence of proper education. Politician has no regards for them because they do not vote or only few participate during elections.”

mangyan2

“In remote areas rarely touched by outsiders; only men have names, women do not talk to outsiders, a man can marry a 10 year old girl and they don’t know what birth certificate is. Areas frequented by NGOs, missionaries and others are lucky enough to have a school for grade 1, grade 2 or 3. In those areas, “professional” teachers teach only 3 days a week, Monday is used to traverse the mountains and Friday as travel allowance going home. They do not travel during weekend because according to them; they are not compensated for their effort. Passionate teachers on the other hand teach 6 days a week, Sunday is left for worship. They only go down once a month and some even don’t.”

mangyan4

“I am an Igorot, a native of Mt. Province, lucky for us; our ancestors accepted education as part of their lives before “others” came. These Mangyans do not need our sympathy. They need our understanding…”

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“Since I went back to Mindoro for recreation, I cannot help but review my old pictures and this one caught my attention… Year 2005, 3 great rivers of Mindoro overflowed, flooding Calapan Bacu and Naujan. We commandeered a motorized rubber boat issued by the Disaster Coordinating Council but no one knew how to drive. The soldiers tried to operate its motor but it wouldn’t start. Since i have operated a jet ski before i knew there was some kind of a safety switch that is holding the motor from starting. So, we have improvised a “U” clip that holds the safety switch. The clip was also tied to the operator’s hand in case he falls, it will automatically cut the power. (Lessons learned: always look for the manual and accessories.) After some quick drills in the darkness of the night, we were able to rescue civilians (which i cannot remember how many) trapped in the raging flood. The danger was stressful because it was not our specialization, all we can do is laugh about it during refuel. Good thing I had waterborne operations and coxswain training in Scout Ranger Training School before.The following morning reinforcements from the Navy and Coast Guard came but Rangers have led the Way!”

DRRO at Mindoro

Our featured story is written by Cpt Matib from Philippine Army, a Scout Ranger and member of PMA “Maliyab” Class 2004

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PAFCPIC Update 2015

If you’re one of the soldier investors of the Philippine Army who keeps on enjoying the fruits of your PAFCPIC’s capital contribution, I’m sure this update will be more shocking to you. Actually, this post is kinda late but I really think it’s very important for all members. I assume you’ve already read my latest post regarding PAFCPIC for CY 2014. I hope you’ve made necessary changes on your investment portfolios last year. Now, hold on to your seat because this update will be a game changer.

Total Elimination of Preferred Savings Deposit

Several months ago, I went to the office of PAFCPIC at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija to have my passbook updated. I grabbed one “PAFCPIC Balita”, their official publication and turned it to the first page. Well, it actually got my whole attention. The first page was the only page I’ve read!

PAFCPIC 2015

I can’t believe it! No more Preffered Savings Deposit (Blue Passbook) on the 1st day of October this year. All the money you’ve invested on PSD will be automatically transferred to Regular Savings Deposit (Green Passbook) with an annual dividend rate ranging from only 3% to 3.75% compared to PSD which is 15% per annum. I never thought this is going to happen. Is PAFCPIC falling apart? I expected that there will be a gradual reduction of PSD dividend rate but not its total elimination. Oh well, that’s life. I wonder if they will also eliminate the Share Capital (Stocks) of its members.

Deposit Ceiling of Preferred Savings Deposit

If you’re not aware of the deposit ceiling they’ve implemented, take note of this information. January 1, 2015: the deposit ceiling was reduced from P350,000 to P250,000. April 1 2015: it was further reduced from P250,000 to P150,000. July 1, 2015: from 150,000 to P50,000. October 1, 2015: P50,000 to 0. There will only be two (2) deposit accounts that will be retained: the PSD and Time Deposit.

Good News for Borrowers

Anyway, there’s still good news for those who want to avail PAFCPIC loans. According to the publication, they reduced the interest rates effective January 2015. By the way, if you want to borrow money, spend it wisely guys. If you have more questions, you may contact BENJAMIN GABRIEL for PSD and SEGUNDO LANUZA for loan interest rates at Tel Nr. (02)-844-9010 local 311 and 207

One piece of advice, it’s time to move on and seek for better investment opportunities. Bye PAFCPIC! Thank you very much!

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Shocking PAFCPIC Updates CY 2014

PAFCPICThank goodness! My blogging days are not yet over! Sorry guys, I’ve been very busy since the day I was discharged from the Army General Hospital at Fort Bonifacio last December 2013. Right now, I’m doing a more challenging job that requires a lot of time and effort. It’s a totally different job compared to my former designations. I’m already assigned in the Division, that’s the reason for my very long absence in the blogging community. (What a lame excuse!) Anyway, I will share to you some shocking updates regarding Philippine Army Finance Center Producers Integrated Cooperative (PAFCPIC). It’s shocking especially if you’re an investor and maintain a Capital Contribution on either Regular Savings Deposit (RSD) or Preferred Savings Deposit (PSD).

PAFCPIC Extreme Control Measures

If you remember, last 01 January 2013, PAFCPIC implemented control measures minimizing the dividend rate of RSD and stoppage of PSD Capital Contribution. Also, there was a stoppage of the Share Capital contribution. Recently, last 28 February 2014, PAFCPIC released a new memo regarding their new rules in order to maintain the Coop’s sustainability effective 01 April 2014.

First, they will not accept deposits on Preferred Savings Deposit (PSD) anymore.

Secondly, there will be a reduction on the interest rate on Regular Savings Deposit (RSD) by 0.5% or from 5% to 4.5% per annum.

Lastly, there will also be a reduction of individual ceiling on RSD up to P10M. Any excess as an effect of this will be paid until individual RSD balance complies with the P10M ceiling by the end of CY 2014.

Effects to Investors

This is shocking because I’m also planning to invest on PAFCPIC for a long period of time. Now, all hopes are gone. Those who invested earlier will continuously benefit from the high dividend rate of this Army Cooperative. Lucky you! Nevertheless, I already anticipated this to happen after the release of the 2013 memo. It’s just a matter of time and I never expected it to be implemented this year. It’s time to consider other options.

Importance of Diversified Investment Portfolio

Investment losses are sometimes inevitable. It is important that we should diversify our hard-earned investment funds to other outstanding financial investment companies. A well-balanced investment portfolio could minimize losses and optimize gains.

There are two things that Soldier investors will have to consider today after the implementation of these new PAFCPIC rules.

Diversion of programmed investment funds from PAFCPIC to other investment opportunities will be the first consideration. On the other hand, the dividend rate for RSD of 4.5% p.a. is still a good investment compared to Regular Commercial Banks. Imagine, if you have P10M in RSD, you’ll get P 450,000.00 per annum or P 112,500.00 per quarter. That’s still a great investment! (For those who have that amount of money!) In connection with this, second consideration will be the continuation of Regular Savings Deposit and enjoy 4.5% dividend rate p.a. Well, it’s up to you! In this case, I already decided on this matter.

After a series of frustrating changes in the PAFCPIC rules, I could still recommend it as a good investment consideration for Soldier investors. Just always put in mind that a well-balanced investment portfolio is the key to a successful investment program. Hence, a good investment strategy will help us manage investment risk.

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Updates on AFPSLAI 3rd Quarter 2013

AFPSLAI As usual, AFPSLAI is still doing excellent on the third quarter of 2013 but slightly fell compared last quarter. When I went to their office at Bayani Road, Taguig City in front of PAFCPIC, I found out that they declared a 3.5% dividend rate on the 3rd Quarter. Last 2nd Quarter of 2013, AFPSLAI declared a 3.75% dividend rate.

That means, if you have Php 100, 000.00 as Capital Contribution, you’ll have a dividend of Php 3, 500.00. If you have Php 500, 000.00, you’ll get Php 17, 500.00 and if you have 1M, you’ll get Php 35, 000.00 in just 3 months!!! Where can you get such a high dividend rate? Only in AFPSLAI my friend! Only in the Armed Forces of the Philippines!

BTW, there are no changes regarding the maximum contribution which is Php 10, 000.00 per month. Here’s a catch! It will only apply if you make transactions Over-The-Counter. Now, if the contribution is automatically deducted from your salary, you can make your monthly contribution to Php 20, 000.00 a month! Fastest way to  get rich eh?!

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Also, AFPSLAI is announcing that effective January 1, 2014, as approved by the BSP, dormancy fee on Savings Deposit Account (02, 07 and 09) will be increased from Php 10.00 to Php 50.00 per month. Dormant accounts refer to accounts with no deposit or withdrawal transactions for a period of 24 months or two (2) years.

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There’s also a notice to AFP Pensioners based on AFP Finance Center directive. It says that all modes of pension delivery to be through Land Bank of the Philippines. That means, AFPSLAI will no longer transfer Pension Advance facility beginning this November (for December 2013 pension)

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AFPSLAI will be implementing a new IT system starting on December 2, 2013, Monday. Due to some adjustments, they announced that front-line transactions may take longer than usual. On November 29, 2013 (Friday) Tellering, Membership and Loan Transactions will be up to 11:00 AM only. Please take note.

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AFPSLAI new website

AFPSLAI new website 2

AFPSLAI new website

AFPSLAI is proudly announcing their new website (http://afpslai.com.ph/). Once again, they are making everything so easy for their members. If you would like to loan but you can’t go to their office to check how much how much you’re going to pay for monthly amortization, then you can check their new website and tick on the “loan calculator”. It’s really easy!

AFPLSAI Loan Calculator

AFPLSAI Loan Calculator

There’s a saying that if you want to know the status of a company whether it’s doing great or lagging behind, just check the website and you’ll get all the answers. Happy investing to all of you!

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Philippine Army Spearheading Relief Operations

When I went to Philippine Army Gym at Fort Bonifacio yesterday, I was surprised to see a lot of people volunteering to repack tons of relief goods. Donations were pouring like rain. Everybody was so busy. It was a cheerful and heart-warming scene. I’ve seen a lot of volunteers lined up to register. There were students, professionals and even foreigners helping each other. I could feel the “Bayanihan” spirit within the people around me. Later, I was already repacking relief goods. I didn’t notice earlier that the Philippine Army Gym was temporary used as the Philippine Army Relief Center. My original plan was to go there for a workout. Fortunately, it turned out to be a more meaningful activity.

 

 

Philippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterPhilippine Army Relief CenterTyphoon Juaning in AuroraAfter helping those volunteers, I went to the Philippine Army Grandstand and I saw Philippine Army soldiers waiting to be deployed in the calamity-stricken areas in the Visayas. I’ve heard that they were assigned in Central Luzon. Some of them belonged to my former unit. Now, they were needed to augment the troops already doing a lot of hard work in those affected areas. It will be a massive task for them but the troops looked so cheerful because they felt they could help their fellow kababayans and contribute to lessen their misery. I felt a sense of pride seeing them. I’ve felt again the spirit of Bayanihan.

Philippine Army Rescue OperationsI could still recall when I was a Company Commander assigned in Northern Aurora. There was a time that the area was hit by a strong typhoon twice in a single month. My troops were deployed to assist the local government units to implement force evacuations. It was a difficult task because the people residing in the shorelines didn’t want to vacate their houses. Some villagers even told the troops that they preferred to die than leaving their houses. It was a nightmare. In order to resolve everything, the troops volunteered to carry the things of the villagers including their livestock. There was also a time when we were trapped in a barangay due to flashfloods. It was a dilemma. My mission was to go to the adjacent barangay to conduct rescue operations. If I will force our way out, we might end up dead. We tried to cross the river and fortunately, we’ve made it. The lives of the soldiers during rescue operations are always at stake.

Philippine Army Rescue Operations

Philippine Army Rescue OperationsPhilippine Army Rescue OperationsPhilippine Army Rescue OperationsPhilippine Army Rescue OperationsIn times like this, I could feel the sacrifices of my fellow soldiers. A relief and rescue operation is not an easy task. But after seeing how people gathered and united in the Philippine Army Relief Center, it just made me realized that it’s truly worth it. What I’ve seen in the gym is also visible in the eyes of my fellow soldiers. I’m sure they were also inspired to help those people suffering from the wrath of Yolanda. For now, what I could do is to repack the relief goods. Someday, when my wound is totally healed, I could already join my fellow soldiers helping my kababayans.

To those who wanted to help, you can visit the Philippine Army Relief Center anytime located at Philippine Army Gym at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. The relief operations will last for weeks. There are a lot of relief goods needed to be repacked and to be send immediately to Tacloban and other devastated towns in Visayas. One hour of repacking relief goods can feed hundreds of our fellow Filipinos.

 

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Soldier’s Investment 101: UITF (Unit Investment Trust Funds)

BDO UITFNormally, most soldier investors in the Armed Forces of the Philippines fall in a category of being a conservative type of investors. Due to lack of time to increase their financial literacy, they are not very much willing to take risk to get higher returns for their investments. Aside from limited time, they are not exposed to various types of investment instruments especially those members of the Philippine Army who are usually assigned in remote areas where commercial banks are out of reach. It seems that most Filipino soldier investors are already comfortable investing in military financial institutions that are always available to them such as AFPSLAI, PAFCPIC, CWSLAI, AMWSLAI, etc. through share capital and capital contributions. On the other hand, there are also Filipino soldiers who are able to secure their emergency funds and some even reached their investment limits for their SC and capital contributions. As a result, these successful soldier investors opted to put their money in a more risky investment. However, due to lack of financial awareness, some of them become an easy prey to easy-money-making-scams like networking or pyramiding schemes. Unfortunately, they’ve invested almost all of their life savings in it. It’s very sad to know that a lot of soldiers became victims of these big time swindling groups like the Aman Futures. In this connection, let me share to you other option where you could invest your money which is a lot safer and wiser.

What is a Unit Investment Trust Fund?

A UITF is basically a type of ready-made investment that allows pooling of funds from different investors who share similar objectives. This pool of funds is managed by a Fund Manager/Trustee of a bank. He/She will be the one managing these funds and has the authority on where, when and how to invest the funds through various financial instruments such as bonds, equities and money market securities. If you invest to UITF, you became a Trustor and you’ll be buying units rather than shares. By the way, investing in a UITF is a lot easier compared to investing in a stock market especially if you don’t have the luxury of time to monitor every trading day. In UITF, you let the Fund Manager/Trustee do his stuff and you’ll just constantly monitor the daily Net Asset Value per Unit (NAVPU) of the fund as posted in the bank’s website. It will be your guide to subscribe for additional units or just redeem your investments.

How to Invest in a UITF?

UITF

Before deciding to invest in a UITF, you should already have your investment objectives. You should make some assessments on how much you’re willing to invest and for how long you will invest. You should also consider what kind of risk you are willing to take. After assessing your financial capabilities, your objectives will be your guide especially deciding the right UITF for you.

In order for you to start a UITF investment, you should visit a bank where you like to invest. I recommend either BDO or BPI since they are the best performing banks in the Philippines. Approach any of the bank employees then tell him/her that you are planning to invest in a UITF. Usually, they will go to the bank manager then the manager will be the one giving the details about UITF investments to you.

Before you could open a settlement account and UITF account, you will have to accomplish the investor’s profile questionnaire (IPQ) so that the manager will know what UITF is suited for you. There are no right or wrong answers for that. It would just evaluate what type of investor you are. Moreover, risk profiling will let you know what type of investments suited for you considering your investment objectives and risk appetite. You will know if you are moderately conservative, moderately aggressive and aggressive investor. In my case, I turned out to be a moderately aggressive investor after answering their IPQ but since I really want to invest aggressively, they let me signed a waiver to invest in their funds designed only for aggressive investors. Usually, the minimum investment is P10, 000.00 and after having your initial investment, you could subscribe any time for additional fund for as low as P1, 000.00 per subscription. In BPI, you could subscribe or redeem through BPI Express Online. That’s the best advantage of BPI compared to BDO. In BDO, you need to visit the bank to either subscribe or redeem the fund.

Moreover, you should also consider the trust/management fee, early redemption fee and minimum holding period of the fund. This is the way how the banks earn from these pools of funds. Well, aggressive funds usually have higher trust/management fees compared to moderate funds.

After taking the IPQ, you could already open a settlement account which the amount of the contribution to be made shall be debited and the proceeds of redemption shall be credited. In BDO, they will issue a certificate of confirmation for participation for every subscription. If you want to redeem your investment, just go to the same bank where you invested then return the certificate. While in BPI, you don’t need to visit the bank after the initial investment. Subscription and redemption can be done online without the burden of traveling to the bank.

Choosing the Best UITF for you

BPI Investment FundIf you are moderately conservative or moderate risk investor, you are suited for short term funds maximizing returns with minimal risk of losses. You will invest in Money Market Funds of their UITF. The setback for investing to this fund is that you’ll be expecting slow and low returns. The positive side is that you could easily redeem it without the fear of having losses considering its safety and liquidity. The objectives of this fund are mainly for capital preservation and income generation from low-risk-fixed income securities.

If you are a type of investor who is moderately aggressive, you are suited for longer term investment horizons. This type of fund is invested in fixed income and bonds that has a higher yield compared to Money Market Funds. You have to invest for a minimum of three years in order to maximize its earning potential. In BDO, they offer BDO Peso Fixed Income Fund, BDO GS Fund and BDO Bond Funds (Peso and US Dollar) while BPI offers ABF Philippines Bond Index Fund. The objectives of these funds are also for capital preservation and generate higher income through investments in low and medium-term bonds including similar fixed income securities.

If you are aggressive type of investor, then the best fund for you will be the Equity Funds. It actually mimics the stock market’s performance so if the stock market is doing well then you’re going to enjoy higher returns. The setback for this fund is definitely the risk of losing your capital. You are vulnerable to large amount of capital losses especially when the stock market falls continuously. On the other hand, it is also the fund that could generate the highest yield compared to other funds.

On the positive side, a falling stock market is the best time for you to avail for Equity Fund units. The lower the price, the higher units you are going to buy. When the price triples after waiting patiently, you could now redeem your investment and enjoy high yield. Still, this is not suited for those investors who easily discourage when the NAVPU’s fall for a longer period of time. This is totally suited for investors who are willing to place their money in the fund for at least five years without considering early fund redemption. However, with a lot of improvements happening to the Philippine economy, taking the risk to invest in this fund is a very wise decision. Actually, BPI is offering a lot of aggressive trust funds like BPI Equity Index Fund and BPI Balanced Fund while BDO offers Peso Balanced Fund and BDO Equity Fund. The objective of these funds is mainly for capital growth that is invested in selected equities that is well studied by the Fund Manager.

Philippine Army 48IBIn the conclusion, it is really a necessity for us to increase our financial literacy because it will give us more avenues to improve our investment portfolios. Also, diversifying our investment portfolio is still the best practice and proven to have a lot of advantages. As soldiers, it is our dream to give our family a decent living and make life easier for them so let’s continue learning how to invest productively and wisely.

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Third Junior Army Officer Died in Zamboanga Skirmishes

1LT DAMIAN

PHOTO from Philippine Army Public Affairs Office

Another Philippine Army officer died this morning at Zamboanga City Hospital. He’s a member of the elite 3rd Light Reaction Company of the Special Operations Command conducting clearing operations at Zamboanga City. He belongs to PMA Class 2007. It was reported that he was fatally wounded yesterday during heavy clashes with MNLF breakaway group at Brgy Sta. Barbara.

He’s from Quezon City. Sadly, this young officer is also married. He’s the most senior among the junior officers who died earlier. They belong to PMA classes 2007, 2008 and 2011.

I offer my deepest sympathy to his family. He will never be forgotten! Another hero of the Filipino people has fallen.

First Lieutenant Francis Damian

Tiradores dela Muerte! Kill them all!

Rest in Peace Brother! 

     

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Another Military Officer Killed in the Battle of Zamboanga

2LT MenesesAnother hero has fallen today. He’s the 2nd Philippine Army officer who died fighting the renegade Misuari MNLF faction in Zamboanga City. He belongs to PMA “Laon-alab” Class of 2011. He’s a member of the elite 7th Scout Ranger Company of 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion. The prestigious 7SRC is tasked to conduct clearing operations in Brgy Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City. He was wounded last Sept 21 and died after two days in Zamboanga City Hospital. His parents are working abroad as OFWs. Like the late 1lt John Kristopher Rama, his upperclassman who died few days earlier, he’s also a native of Bulacan.

I sincerely give my deepest condolence to his family.

He died fighting so that others may live.

Second Lieutenant Florencio Mikael Meneses

Your sacrifice will never be forgotten!

You are the hero of the Filipino people!

Scout Rangers lead the way!

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First Military Officer Killed in the Battle of Zamboanga

Philippine Troops in ZamboangaIt was confirmed that one junior military officer of the Philippine Army paid the ultimate sacrifice in the battle of Zamboanga. He’s a member of PMA Class 2008. He was the assaulter platoon leader of 1st Light Reaction Company of the SOCOM.

He’s a native of Norzagaray, Bulacan. He’s 30 years old. He has a wife and child back home. I extend my heartfelt condolence to his family.

First Lieutenant RamaYou will never be forgotten brother! 

Snappy salute to First Lieutenant Kristopher Rama!

You are the hero of the Filipino people!

For more info, please visit Ranger Cabunzky’s blog.

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 11)

Datu Odin MunicipalityOnce, we lived in harmony with our Moslem neighbors in the village of Southern Philippines Development Authority or SPDA, formerly known as Dinaig, at Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipality. We felt secured in that village since we have had several Moslem relatives residing at Cotabato City. The city proper is more or less 45 minutes away from our village. One night, while my father was away working overtime at Cotabato City, a notorious gang, suspected to be relatives of the members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF, harassed my family. They were more than twenty and believed to carry small assorted deadly weapons. Without any kind of provocation, these maniacs threatened us and threw stones at our house. They cursed us and shouted “Mga baboy kayong mga Bisaya!” My mother including me and my 3 brothers were inside our house. We were all shocked that night. We didn’t know what to do. My mother was so nervous. There were no cellular phones during that time so we couldn’t contact anyone for help. I was only 10 years old that time. I’m the second child. Our eldest was a high school student, my younger brother was 6 years old and the youngest was barely one year old.

Nobody stood up to defend my family. I thought that we could be massacred anytime. We were all afraid. It was traumatic.

Instinctively, my mother went outside our house and confronted the gang. She was so brave. It was in her blood. She’s an Ilongga raised in South Cotabato at Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. A place once torn apart by Christian-Moslem conflict in the 70’s. That night, I’ve seen my mother ready to defend us. In the middle of their verbal confrontation, the gang’s leader felt that he was challenged so he climbed over our fence. It was the moment we all feared of. He was already inside the vicinity of our house. He was a meter away from my mother as he continued to threaten her. My mother shouted “Trespassing ka! Pwede kitang ipakulong!” Then the maniac pointed his finger to my mother’s forehead. He cursed our family. He called us Christian pigs.

My eldest brother saw everything. He sensed that my mother was in danger. I’ve seen him cried in anger. He felt so helpless. He was so furious. He looked for my father’s cal. 38 revolver which Papang kept for self-defense. Before, he showed it to us and told us that we could use it in case of life threatening emergencies. Fortunately, my brother wasn’t able to find it but he grabbed his air gun then went outside like Rambo. It was the only weapon he found instantly. When I saw Kuya went outside with his air gun, I grabbed our jungle bolo. I just grabbed it in pure instinct. I also cried in anger knowing that my mother needed our help. My two younger brothers cried in fear inside the house. I followed him towards that fuc@#$ bastard. It was a natural defense mechanism. At that age, I thought of killing. I thought that if somebody in my family will get hurt that night, I will kill them. At instant, without any hesitations, my brother pointed his air gun to the man’s face. I was standing beside the intruder ready to strike him with my bolo. We were all shivering. My mother started to panic when she saw us. She never expected her sons to react so violently since we were all young. She pleaded to us to get inside the house. We didn’t hear her voice anymore. Our eyes were locked on the target. The leader of the gang never budged an inch. It was a scary stand off. My brother’s eyes flashed in anger. I breathed heavily as I held my bolo so high as if I would strike the man in a split of second. I was waiting for him to make a move. Lucky for him, somebody shouted “Mababait mga Kristyano na yan, wag nyo silang galawin!” it was one of our good Moslem neighbors who pacified the tension and negotiated with the rest of the gang outside our house. The leader of the gang finally went outside. After several minutes of negotiation mediated by our Moslem friends, the gang finally backed off.

After that incident, the rest of the neighbors gathered in front of our house. When my father arrived, he looked so worried. He never expected something would happened like that to his family. He immediately proceeded to the detachment of the Philippine Marines. It was the first time I saw my father looked that way. He was terribly mad. My father was a native of Maguindanao. He was half-Moslem and half-Christian since Lola was baptized as Christian when she married my Lolo. It was a long story. It was unusual because mostly, men who married Moslem women were the ones who converted to follow Islam. On the contrary, lola turned Christian so we became Christians too. Subsequently, the Marines immediately went towards our house. They were all heavily equipped. They were ready for battle. When I saw them that night, I could feel the power of their guns. I looked up to them as mighty protectors of the oppressed. My father volunteered to guide them towards the lair of those bastards. However, the marines were not able to catch them. It will be a bloodbath if they will pursue towards the MILF camp.

I opened my eyes. My Scout Ranger classmates looked so weary and tired. I’m already a member of the Philippine Army, I thought. Time was really fast.  The flight was taking so long. I felt so restless inside the C130. It was my first time to be deployed in Mindanao after several years of field assignment in Central Luzon. It would be a different kind of homecoming for me.

(To be Continued)

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