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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