What is the Scout Ranger Song?


musang scout ranger



We strike! We who are happy and free

Birds of a feather, we flatter together

Scout Rangers of fortune are we


We sing! Greeting the night with a song

Laughing at danger, we fight like a panther

We conquer our hardships away


Shadows to hide us

And bright stars to guide us

The night we roam

No one can find us

Wherever we choose to roam

 We ride! (Hep!) march! (Hep!) creep! (Hep!) crawl! (Hep!)

Silently in the jungle


Scout Rangers of fortune are we

Seeking and fighting and laughing and loving

Scout Rangers of fortune are we

 1, 2, 3 Rangers!

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 10)

C130The flight seemed to take forever. We looked so restless inside the Philippine Air Force’s refurbished Lockheed C-130H Hercules. We never talked much during the flight. We all looked like praying our asses off inside the plane. Most of us were standing inside the C130. The central part was full of jungle packs, weapons and boxes of ammunitions. I could hardly move to change position. The capacity payload was supposed to be either 92 passengers or 72 fully equipped troops which is also equivalent to 64 airborne troops only. Our Scout Ranger class was heavily equipped. Our strength was more or less 90 including the RIs. Aside from that, a light military vehicle was on board that military cargo plane. Undoubtedly, the plane was overloaded. I just closed my eyes. I shifted my thoughts somewhere else. It was a moment of reminiscence. I remembered where I came from.

MaguindanaoI grew up in Maguindanao, one of the most battle-torn provinces in Southern Philippines. As a child, I was exposed to unending violence and other incidents of lawlessness. Kidnap for ransom was rampant in the province. The Pentagon Group believed to be former secessionist rebels were terrorizing the Christian communities. Chinese mestizos were mostly targeted for kidnapping. There was a time when almost all of my Chinese Mestizo classmates in elementary school transferred to Davao City and other Christian dominated towns and provinces in Mindanao. It was like an exodus. Our Cathedral Church in Cotabato City was frequently bombed. It seemed that there were no safe places for Christians anymore. Although, peace talks and negotiations were ongoing between the Moro National Liberation Front or the MNLF and the Philippine Government, still there were skirmishes in the countryside. Much worse, the breakaway group of MNLF known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF continued waging war against the Philippine Government. When I was still an elementary student, I couldn’t identify Philippine soldiers from separatist rebels. They looked all the same to me. They were all wearing soldier’s uniforms. They were also conducting checkpoints simultaneously.

tamontaka bridgeWhen I was travelling going to school, I could still vividly recall the Tamontaka bridge connecting Cotabato City and Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipality wherein the Philippine Marines conducted checkpoint on the edge of the bridge while the group of MNLF was also conducting their own checkpoint on the opposite edge of the bridge. I’ve heard there were incidents that they were sniping each other during their past time. I’ve also seen MNLF fighters paraded in Cotabato City Plaza when peace talk was on its final stage. They flaunted their weaponry. That time, it was only a rumor that Cotabato will be under the leadership of the MNLF Chairman. I didn’t give a damn about it. I didn’t understand about the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM before. It was a stalemate. Philippine soldiers were not even visible in the city. That was the environment where I grew up. I’ve also heard tales of bloody battles. My father told me that when he was still young, a battalion of Philippine Army was massacred in an ambush when they tried to cross a marshland. The battle was so intense that the impact of explosions has broken their windowpanes.

When I rode my BMX bike going to Grotto, I could still remember seeing M35 trucks with loads of dead Philippine Army soldiers covered with banana leaves going to the 6th Infantry Division at Awang Airport. I’ve felt sorry for them. “When will the fighting stop?” it was a question that I believed nobody could answer for the next hundred years.

The C130 was in a steady flight. It was a nice feeling. Still, I closed my eyes. I continued visiting my past.

I belonged to a Christian family living in a predominantly Moslem village. We were minorities in that place. Police never existed in our village. Philippine Army soldiers and Philippine Marines were our greatest allies. I looked up to them like our messiah. They were prophets of peace and justice. They were ready to sacrifice their lives just to protect helpless Christian communities.

I could still recall the incident during the early 90’s that changed my life forever.

(To be Continued)

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 9)

On the last night of our preparation, I couldn’t sleep. I felt a lot of trepidation. It was 2100H. We needed to take a nap since we had to move out as early as 0100H the next day. Everybody seemed to be awake. I still heard voices rumbling inside the tents of my classmates. After a while, my buddy arrived with a military map of Jolo, Sulu. He borrowed it from PFC Benlot, our only classmate who was formerly assigned in that wretched island. I was curious because we were not yet formally briefed about the details of the Test Mission. I wanted to check the map so I instructed my buddy to produce one. All of a sudden, my original teammates went inside my tent. They were also curious. They’ve heard that PFC Navarra had a map of Jolo Island. My team was composed of  3 members from First Scout Ranger Regiment’s finest Battalions and another 3 including me came from Regular Infantry Battalions. I also had a teammate who was a member of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force or PNP-SAF.

SAF Commandos are one of the elite fighters of the PNP. They were deployed in hostile areas like their Philippine Army counterparts. They also conduct counter-insurgency operations. That’s why they send qualified SAF members to undergo SR Training to harness their skills in combat. The only remaining SAF member of our class was PO1 Bonifacio Bonghanoy. He was a member of my team. He was the only survivor of the whole squad. The rest of the squad either failed in subjects or resigned from the course. The SAF squad sent to SRTS was assigned in Metro Manila before they underwent the training.

Military Map

Sample of Military Map

I took out a pack of skag from my pocket and shared it to my teammates while we discussed extra preparations for the Test Mission. For the first time, my tent became a gas chamber. We were already authorized to skag anyway. That night, we all thought that our RI’s were also busy preparing their stuff. Eventually, we all seriously verified the map. The terrain looks adaptable compared to the areas where I’ve been formerly assigned. There are few mountainous areas. The island looks like a pile of sh%#!t from aerial view based on the map. It seems that as you go nearer to the center of the island, the elevation rises. While I was checking the contour lines, I could imagine the Abu Sayyaf waiting for us somewhere. I studied every single detail of the map and conducted initial terrain analysis.

http://wisefilipinosoldier.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/forest-creek.jpgI observed that there are few creeks in that island. Creeks are important water source for the soldiers conducting combat operations. You need to drink at least 5 Liters of water especially if the weather is hot and you have to walk more than 3 clicks every day. That means we will be doing a lot of water discipline. As a result, we all agreed to bring at least 5 liters of water using Coca-Cola plastic water bottles. We preferred using these empty bottles than water canteens because of expediency. Also, we were issued mini portable gas stoves for each squad. We would also bring at least 3 Liters of Kerosene. For every operation, we agreed to bring at least 7 days ration with 4 days wet and 3 days dry rations. Wet rations consist of rice and “rekados” for cooking while dry rations consist of Skyflakes biscuits and canned goods. Nobody slept that night.

SR Test MissionWe discussed everything from rations to supplies. We haven’t noticed that it was already time. “This is it!” I thought to myself. It was the climax of our Scout Ranger Training. We packed up and mounted M35 trucks. We moved out from SRTS then proceeded to Fort Magsaysay at Nueva Ecija. It’s still dark when we arrived at the airfield. The C130 was already waiting for us. We were all restless that day.

Time was finally ripe to test what we have learned from the portals of Camp Tecson.

(To be Continued) 

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Filipino Soldier from Saver to Investor

Philippine MoneyDo you consider yourself as a saver? Are you willing to take risk and invest your hard earned money? Well, before you answer these questions, let me ask you again, why are you interested to read this article anyway? Are you just plain curious or you really want to learn tips on how to level up your current financial status? Whatever reasons you might have, I would say that you have a potential to level up from being a saver to become a successful investor.

Get Rid of Debt

This is the first thing you should do. If you have a negative net worth, you will have a hard time to save. Eliminate debt as early as possible. It’s like being tied up by a rope. Escape from it and you can have your financial freedom.

Save, Save and Save!

Every successful investor starts being a saver. Like everybody else, Filipino soldiers would also like to have a brighter financial future. Even with a seemingly unending loans and expenses not mentioning the effects of inflation, most of them still save some of their money. Time has changed. Gone were the days that newly assigned soldiers in the field were financially irresponsible. Most of them were actually taught financial management by their seniors or superior officers during their military training.
In this connection, officers are already considered responsible for the financial status of their men. By the way, commanding officer’s approval is needed in order for the soldier to apply for loan. They sometimes disapproved loan applications if they noticed that the soldier is just wasting his money for unnecessary expenses. As a matter of fact, this is a very unpopular policy but I believe it is a necessity. This could even trigger an animosity between the officer and his subordinates especially if the officer wasn’t able to explain the reason why he disapproved the loan application. Fortunately, more Filipino soldiers are becoming aware of the importance of saving. Nothing is wrong being thrifty.

Know Your Objectives

How much will you set aside for your savings every month? For how long will you save that specific amount? What’s your objective? That’s some of the indispensable analysis that you should take into consideration when you save your money. Know your objectives and let it be your guide. Is it your objective to save for emergency funds only? If yes, then it doesn’t need to have an interest. Emergency funds need to be accessible anytime and anywhere. If you plan to purchase a high cost purchases like house and cars, you need longer time to save. How much and how long? Also, record everything including monthly and future expenses. In short, you will be the master of your own fate when it comes to crafting of your financial future plans. When everything seems to go smoothly according to your plan, you will definitely enjoy the fruits of your hard work and perseverance.

Increase Your Financial Literacy

If you become interested to get higher returns out of your savings, you are in the verge of entering a different level. First, learn how to invest. Go back to your objectives. If you already have an emergency fund and you feel secured enough with what you have, then this is the best time to level up. Filipino soldiers usually invest their money to military financial institutions like AFPSLAI, AMWSLAI and PAFCPIC to get passive income through dividends and interests. It is the safest investment for Filipino soldiers. You just let your money work for you. As time goes by, you build up your wealth. The money you invest accumulates and you will look for other investment institutions like commercial banks. This is the crucial part. Never invest in something you never fully understands. That’s why you have to increase your financial literacy. Study and learn. Read and interview. Now, I learned about investing to UITFs or Unit Investment Trust Funds offered by banks. BPI and BDO have the greatest performances so far. I would suggest you will try to study UITF and choose the best investment fund for you. Also, it’s also good to invest in Mutual funds. Just always put in mind that every time you increase your appetite for wealth, the risk of losing your money also increases. Bad investments are usually a product of bad decisions and little knowledge of the subject.

Finally, the most important question is when will be the best time to invest my money. If you think you already levelled up, my answer is- Now Na! The earlier, the better!

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 8)

As usual, I wore my black panther. I brought my toiletries, towel and M16 rifle. The trail was slippery so I used my combat boots. It’s a narrow trail. I ran towards the direction of the firing range. The bathing area is more or less 300 meters away from the tent city. Normally, we were only given 10 minutes. I have to run for 2 minutes going to the river. I will take a bath for another 2 minutes, take a dump and skag for another 2 minutes, wash my black panther for another 2 minutes, then the last 2 remaining minutes to go back to the tent city. It was our 10-minute bathing time. For the past four months, it was part of our morning routine every day!

Philippine CarabaoWhile traversing the paddy field, I saw my fellow scout ranger students stranded near the river. It looked like something was blocking their way. I didn’t mind it. I continued running. As I expected, our long-time enemies were already there. It was really bothersome. I stopped running and acted like a prey who met its predators. The two big, notorious and hot-tempered carabaos were standing in the middle of the trail. It was their favorite spot. They were munching their breakfast. Damn! I hated their masters for letting them roam near our bathing area! If they locked their eyes on you, better change course quickly or else, you might get rammed by their gigantic sickle-shaped horns. As a precautionary measure, my classmates used an alternate route towards the river. That time, I never followed them. I would like to take my chances. I moved towards the black beasts like a mad matador. Astonishingly, these creatures moved away from the trail. They never looked me in the eyes. They just bowed their heads and ate the grasses far from the trail. There was no usual chasing moment. Perhaps these animals also knew that we would be leaving. I felt something strange. I felt like I would be missing our good old times. They usually gave me adrenaline rush during bath runs. I thought that those were one of the happy moments that made me laugh in the morning.

Maybe, those water buffaloes didn’t really hate us. They were just protecting their territory. That day, I felt like they befriended me.

Finally, I’ve reached our bathing area- Rocky Madlum River.

Madlum river

This is only a part of the Madlum River in Bulacan. Scout Ranger Students undergo Rope Courses, Combat Swimming and Echo Echo in that river. It’s sacred to them.

The river was so refreshing. I always wished if I could stay there for a long time. I felt serenity. It was a sanctuary of peace. The rushing river current seemed to hypnotize me. It was the only calm place near the SRTS. There was no shouting. It was the only time I felt like a normal person during the SR’s rigid training. It felt like home. No pressure. It felt so free.

Eventually, the state of tranquility faded away. It was just a privilege. I’m an Army soldier, I thought to myself. I finished taking a bath. I went back to the tent city.

I checked my list. I’ve withdrawn 4 fragmentation hand grenades, 4 rifle grenades, 2 basic loads for my M16 A1 rifle, 200 ammo rounds of M60 Machine Gun and 1 ammo of M67 90mm RR Bazooka and a Motorola radio. I had no choice. Everybody was instructed to bring 1 ammo each for either Bazooka or 81mm mortar. I’ve chosen to bring ammunition of Bazooka.

I looked at my jungle pack. It was so heavy. I didn’t even know if I could carry all of those ammos including my rations. I observed that most officers had M203 grenade launchers attached on their M16 rifle. Based on Filipino soldier battle experiences, it’s far more reliable than rifle grenades. I had 2 personnel in my Section who had M203 GL attached to their rifles. I thought it’s already enough.

Around 1000H, we went to the town proper of San Miguel, Bulacan. We bought extra things we needed for the Test Mission. Also, we stormed a carenderia and ate delicious Filipino native dishes. It was like a fiesta. One of my mistahs was kidding and told us that it felt like it’s our last meal. Nobody laughed. After treating ourselves with heavenly boodles, we proceeded to Dau, Tarlac. We bought new bandoleers, extra rifle slings, ropes, ponchos and other important stuff. Everybody was busy looking for anything that seemed useful for the operation. We all bought bolos. We went back to Camp Tecson. Everything was all set.

(To be Continued)

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 7)

We went back to our tent city. It was already 0600H. Miraculously, the sun smiled down on us. We ate our morning mess. Everybody was so excited. We could go outside camp and see normal people again. We love the scent outside the premises of Camp Tecson. It smells like home. It makes me feel like a normal person. We felt so much joy that time. We almost forgot that we will be sent to Jolo the following day. I prepared to take a bath. I opened my duffel bag. As instructed, we only brought 2 pairs of civilian attire and the rest were all Philippine Army uniforms. I would be wearing my brown khaki cargo pants and white T-shirt. It’s always reserve for passes and official business.

Scout Ranger worn-out combat bootsAs I was preparing my clothes, I’ve noticed a pair of worn-out combat boots in my duffel bag. I pulled it out. It became white with a lot of stitches all over it. It looked so battered. I didn’t throw it away. It had sentimental value. I placed it on top of my bamboo bed. My combat boots were my buddies too. I could still recall the last time I went outside the camp premises.

I was brought to a provincial hospital due to a severe infection on my right foot. I couldn’t wear my combat boots that time. Boils or skin abscesses are one of the most common skin diseases during the SR training. It is one of the greatest enemies of every scout ranger students. It can hit you anywhere. My boils started to come out during the 2nd phase of our training. Almost every Scout Rangers have experienced this nightmare. Days after our Echo Echo, my back was already infected. The wounds I incurred during that haunting night became my nightmare for the whole duration of FTX. It was painful. The pain was annoying. I always had fever every night. I felt weak every road runs. I never wanted to take any pain relievers and antibiotics. Alas! I didn’t have any choice. Every time I took those meds, I felt so weak the whole day. The higher the dose, the greater were the side effects. Initially, my immune system has won that first battle. I never expected that it was just the beginning of my sufferings.

During our FTX KUTING, the blister on my left ankle became infected. After several days, my foot had swollen. It was awful. I self-pitied. I had to wear my sandals during FTX. I had no choice. As a result, the infection worsened. I had to cut my combat boots on the part where my ankle was infected. I couldn’t bear the agony anymore. It was a desperate move. I forced myself to wear my combat boots.

The RI finally told me that there was a student who never graduated because of a severe foot infection. It totally worsened because the bones in his foot was also infected. He never survived the training. If he would continue the course, his foot might get amputated.

I would rather have an amputated foot than to quit the Scout Ranger course. That was my resolve.

“Okay! If that’s your decision, I will recommend that you will apply for a sick-call. There will be no confinement if you want to continue.” The RI suggested. I agreed with him. Confinement for 48 hours is considered as disqualification. The student will be recycled to the next class. If you will get sick during training, you will not graduate.

The clinic within the Scout Ranger Training School was not capable to treat my condition. They brought me to a civilian hospital. When I was there at the hospital, the doctor told me that I should not continue the course. His words stung like a bee. I felt very disappointed. I begged him if I could get more powerful dose of antibiotic shots. I even requested if I could bring a syringe during the FTX. I’ll inject it to myself every hour if necessary. I was so desperate. He was laughing. “You are really determined to become a Scout Ranger, huh?” He asked me. “I would rather die than not finishing the course, sir.” I told him with a resentful tone. He gave me a higher dose of pain relievers and antibiotics. He gave me antibiotic shots. “Good Luck, Lieutenant! I wish you could survive.”

God is good. I survived the FTX with a battered foot and combat boots.

I survived because of my determination. I took my worn-out combat boots and put it inside my duffel bag. I was ready to swim and take a bath in the river.

(To be Continued)      

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AMWSLAI in Deep Trouble Again

AMWSLAI LogoI heard a lot of Filipino soldiers complain about AMWSLAI products and services. Honestly, I didn’t have any interest in that military financial institution. Until one day, I became curious so I went to their office at Bayani Road, Taguig City near AFPSLAI and PAFCPIC offices. By the way, AMWSLAI stands for Air Materiel Wings Savings and Loans Association Incorporated. It was a former Philippine Air Force cooperative then later developed into a big savings and loan association. Now, they accepted applicants from other branch of service including Philippine Army and Navy.  They also included members of the Philippine National Police or PNP. There are more or less P14 Billion savings fund coming from the members of this financial institution.

My AMWSLAI Experience

When I went inside their office, the first thing I observed was that the employees were totally disorganized. It seemed that they don’t have a good operations management. Papers were scattered all over their desk. Totally Chaos! Only one personnel was tasked to entertain members and would-be members that time. It’s far from the services of AFPSLAI and PAFCPIC. I sat beside an Army Sergeant who was assigned somewhere in Northern Luzon. While waiting, I asked him if the services are great. As I’ve expected, he warned me not to avail for loan. He had a bad experience about it. He went there to pay the whole amount of his remaining loan balance. The interest is so high, he told me. He felt like he was being robbed the whole time his salary is being deducted. He looked so agitated. After that discussion, I waited for almost two hours. I became impatient! A woman approached me and asked me if I wanted to loan. My goodness! It was a loan fixer! She told me that she could help me avail loan fast. The Army Sergeant whispered to me that there will be a payment by not more than 10% of the principal loan amount to the fixer. Something was really fishy. Finally, I was called by one of the employees. I asked him if I could apply as a member of AMWSLAI and if I could open for an account for Capital Contribution. He told me that they don’t accept Capital Contributions anymore but I could avail for loans. What the heck! Anyway, he gave me the number of their office so that I could constantly check if they will be open for Capital Contribution applications. It was really frustrating. I didn’t stop there. I investigated some more.

Problems of AMWSLAI

I researched the whole day and I found out that there’s a leadership crisis happening in that military financial institution since 2004. There’s a serious friction between the group of Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr. and retired Col. Luvin Manay. The group of Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr. including Thaddeus Estalilla, Morado Mercado, Ismael Abad, Ricardo Perido, Angel Tapac, Antonio Gumba and Cesar Toledanes, were elected as new members of the Board of Trustees last January 18, 2008. Previously, the group of retired Col. Luvin Manay questioned the legality of the election. As a result, the Supreme Court released a decision to “holdover members until the elections and proclamation of winners in a valid, lawful and orderly elections.”

That’s the leadership tug-of-war happened within AMWSLAI.

To give you a brief background of the conflict, Col. Luvin Manay was the former president of AMWSLAI. He was questioned by the BSP regarding the P16 Million AMWSLAI funds deposited in his personal account. My goodness! Consequently, the BSP suspended him and his cohorts. That’s when the group of Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr. entered the scene. They wanted to have a new leadership. While the former president was under suspension, they conducted election. Eventually, dispute was resolved. The group of Col Ricardo Nolasco Jr. have won the case in the Supreme Court.

New Controversy Involving AMWSLAI

Adding insult to injury, I’ve just read the latest news that AMWSLAI was once again put in the limelight. According to the PDAF Scam whistle-blower Benhur Luy, Janet-Lim Napoles has more than P500 Million deposited  in AMWSLAI which made it possible through the assistance of the President and Chairman of the Board, Col. Ricardo Nolasco Jr.

Napoles is not even a member of the AFP or PNP! What was her role in AMWSLAI? This must be further investigated. I believe members who invested a lot of hard-earned money were getting jittery now. One piece of advice, never invest in a company that doesn’t have good reputation. Scared as shit? You should be!

I remembered the employee who told me that the company won’t accept applications for capital contributions. Of course! There’s a lot of money coming from the likes of Janet-Lim Napoles! Never mind investing to this company!

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 6)

Scout Ranger MusangThe last day of preparation finally came. It’s already 0500H. There was an early morning drizzle. The tent city was a muddy mess. For the past months, we had to wear our combat boots every time we go outside of our sacred domiciles. I looked around the vicinity. It was still dark. Silence was deafening. There were no significant changes. Still, there were more or less 40 tents within the perimeter of the Scout Ranger Training School. Our tents were originally owned by the previous class. The previous owners of our tents already graduated. Fortunately, they graduated without any casualties. Their Tango Mike or Test Mission was conducted at the Province of Samar. During that time, the place was infested by Communist terrorists. They hunted NPAs like monsters. We looked up to them like our older brothers. They gave us encouragement during the first phase of our training. We had great memories. Our dilapidated tents were their living remnants. Now, they were all gone. They probably went back to their units. We’re all alone now, I thought to myself. Only mud and rainwater existed in the surroundings including the tents they left behind.

I noticed that some of my fellow Musangs were still lurking inside their tents. Most likely, majority of the members of the class were already awake but just waiting for the call. There were no more rules that day. The RIs authorized us to use our mobile phones. We were good as graduates as long as we survive the Test Mission. The early morning breeze made me shiver. It was really a cold day. I breathed heavily. Nobody went out. Suddenly, I craved for skag. I went inside my tent. My buddy gave me a cup of coffee and a skag.

Usually, each tent is occupied by two scout ranger students regardless of their ranks. They call each other “buddy”. My buddy was a Private First Class. His name is PFC Julius Navarra. He’s a native of Negros. He’s organic to the First Scout Ranger Regiment. He’s the automatic rifleman of my team. He carries our lifeline, the M60 machine gun. We were great buddies since the start of the second phase. We were both the same. We were skag addicts. I could still recall the time when we were almost caught by our RI. One night, the RI stealthily inspected our tent but he failed to catch me and my buddy because we placed early warning devices outside our tent. We dug a hole inside our tent and placed an empty square cookie can and put all the skags there. It wasn’t discovered by any of our RIs. If caught, the punishment will be severe. You will eat every cigarette stick and you’ll get demerits. Every students are given a 50 demerit allowance. If we incurred more than 50 demerits, it will be one of the grounds for us to be disqualified to continue the course.

“Hoy Ranger! I could smell both of you. You were skagging, right?” the RI challenged us. “Yes Sergeant! You smelled us but you didn’t catch us. Remember, there’s no violation if you didn’t see us skagging” I told him. He just smiled. We were never caught. He told me there will be a time of reckoning. He was smiling when he left us.

After several months, he truly gave me something that I couldn’t forget for the rest of my life. During the Echo Echo or Escape and Evasion Training, he was the most evil of all evils I’ve known! I wished him dead that night but it was part of our training. It was the hardest part of the Scout Ranger Course. I never thought I could survive that night. They gave us one morbid lesson that we won’t forget, a scout ranger never surrenders. It’s harder than hell to be captured by the enemy. It’s better to be dead.

I finished my skag and coffee.

Scout Rangers“Humanay! 1-2-3..” the marcher shouted. We went outside our tents. We brought our weapons with us. We formed in the field. The RIs gave instructions. We will be given passes for the whole day. There was heaven after all. 

(To be continued)

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A Tribute to a Fallen Comrade (Part 5)

“Are we prepared to fight the ABUs? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What’s the terrain of Jolo looks like? What’s their firepower?” these were the questions reverberated inside my head. For several months, we anticipated to fight the NPAs. Most of us didn’t have any idea how it is to fight an enemy like these Abu savages. Besides, we were trained in guerrilla tactics designed for a small unit operation.

NPANPAs are proficient in hit and run tactics. They seldom engage the government troops in a fierce combat. However, they also conduct offensive operations if they are superior in combat power considering their firepower, maneuver, leadership, and protection. That’s the only time they wanted a decisive battle. They have to preserve their dwindling strength so their Cadres make sure that everything is well-planned, calculated and executed. NPAs are hard to detect. They are not static. They are highly mobile. That’s the reason why it’s so effective to utilize small units like team or section to hunt down NPAs.  The Scout Ranger team is almost undetected especially during the dark and they are far more superior in skill and firepower compared to the NPAs. Indeed, the Scout Rangers are their worst nightmare.

On the other hand, Abu Sayyaf is different from the NPAs in several aspects. The ABUs also have powerful weapons like the government troops. Blame it on the culture of firearms in Mindanao. Moreover, they have the passion to fight and kill their enemies. They believe that their cause is just and holy. That’s why they were called Islamic extremists. They love to kill Christians. Before, I saw a viral video on the internet how they beheaded Christian farmers. It happened somewhere in Jolo or Basilan. I’m not sure. Only one thing is for sure, it was a horrific show.

The ABUs are unorthodox fighters using their notorious whirlwind tactic. This kind of guerrilla tactic utilizes 2-3 fighters to engage the more superior government troops. They will fire at all sides towards their target. They move from one place to another and usually in an overlapping movement without a specific sector of fire. They are not scared of fratricide since they might even hit one another with this kind of tactic but they did this effectively. That’s why they called it a whirlwind. It’s totally unpredictable. As a result, the government troops will become static and forced to establish a hasty defensive battle positions. The ABUs can do this efficiently because they are masters of their own terrain. In fact, majority of them are natives of Jolo.

That moment, I realized all our training for the past months was not enough. I thought that there must be a change in our tactics.

pacmanIt’s like a boxing. Boxers have different fighting styles. There are fighters who are called swarmers and sluggers. These kind of boxers always put pressure to their opponents. They always use their destructive power. They seize every momentum. They will never give their enemy a space to breathe. That’s how Manny Pacquiao fights. He goes toe to toe with his opponent until he wears him down.

Some fighters are counter-punchers like Juan Manuel Marquez. He fights scientifically and continuously studying his opponent’s move round by round then counter-punch him. Definitely, counter-punchers are cunning. That’s why JMM was able to knock out more powerful fighters like our very own Pacman.

Also, some are called the out-boxers. The most famous out-boxer is the undefeated Floyd Mayweather. He’s a very skilful fighter. He doesn’t fight toe to toe with his opponent. He uses the gap and makes points. He knows he doesn’t have a knock out power so he prefers to win by points. He uses all the advantage to destroy his opponent. He loves battle of attrition.

With this fighting analogy between combat and boxing, I categorized NPAs as counter-punchers and ABUs as sluggers/swarmers. Both of these groups can also become out-boxers.

Finally, our Commandant decided to make hasty changes. This will be the counter-punch to the enemy’s fighting style. We have to fight in a semi-conventional manner. Small unit operation in Abu Sayyaf’s lair is a suicide mission. For the first time, after all the Immediate Action Drills (IADs) that were extensively performed and mastered for several months, we shifted to semi-conventional formations. We will be moving in platoons rather than teams or sections.

On the second day of preparation, we practiced our movements in the field. Our Class was divided into two platoons and one section as reserve.  One platoon is composed of two sections and a headquarters. Each section is composed of two teams. I was assigned as a Section leader. I handled two teams. I was the lead section of 1st Platoon.

It was a long day.  We only had one day left to prepare. Time was ticking so fast.

(To be continued)

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There’s Something About AFPSLAI

afpslaiAre you wondering why AFPSLAI is always ahead of any other financial institutions? Well, the answer is simple. It’s all about great foundation, exemplary performance and excellent leadership. The Armed Forces and Police Savings Loan Association, Incorporated or AFPSLAI is the most successful non-stock, non-profit organization existed today. Let’s examine its greatness, shall we?

Update on AFPSLAI

According to the official publication of AFPSLAI, the company reached the highest net income last year and they called it the benchmark year. The President and CEO, LtGen Cardozo M Luna AFP (Ret) announced that the gross income reached Php 7.96 Billion which is 16% higher than the previous gross income on 2011. He proudly announced that the company made a quantum leap towards its financial targets during the 41st Annual Membership Meeting last May 25, 2013. If you have time to visit AFPSLAI office, I suggest you grab a copy of AFPSLAI Bulletin and read other highlights of the company’s great performance.

This is GOOD NEWS!

It means that Filipino soldier investors including other non-military regular and associate members will greatly benefit from this accomplishment. Dividend rates on Capital Contribution Account (CCA) and interest rates on Savings Deposit Account (SDA) might get even higher! We are presently enjoying a high dividend rate every quarter. TAX FREE!

However, we can only deposit a maximum of P30, 000 per quarter to CCA. Unlike before, you can put even up to 1 Million in CCA!

Today, CCA limit for regular members is 3M while associate member’s CCA limit is 1M.

The latest dividend rate is 3.75% last 2nd quarter of this year with a total rate of 15% per annum.

That means, if you have P500, 000 in your CCA- you will get:

P75, 0000 (excluding accumulated dividends) after the end of the year

You will have additional 6.67% of your actual capital! You can never get this from other financial institutions!

You will have P18, 750 every quarter or P6, 250 a month!

Other Important Matters

There are also important approved proposed amendments on the existing By-Laws of the organization which you might want to know. In Article II Section about membership, it is stated that associate members consist of legitimate spouse and legitimate children of regular married members.

On the approved proposed amendment, they removed the term “legitimate” to children.

Another approved proposed amendment can be found on Article IV about Disposition of Unclaimed Balances.

*** Capital Contributions, Savings Deposits and dividends of deceased members left unclaimed including dormant savings deposits of those members who have not made further deposits or withdrawals; and credits and other payables which remain outstanding for ten years or more shall form part of the income of the Association, unless otherwise provided by law.

Note: It will only be implemented upon the approval of Bangko Sentral ng Pipilinas (BSP) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

Important Notice to Members

They also announced that AFPSLAI resumes declaration of Quarterly dividends until January 2, 2014.

However, next year, they will shift to annual distribution of net income to the members as compliance to BSP Circular 789 Series of 2013 requiring all Non-Stock Savings and Loan Associations (NSSLAs) to distribute net income to members once in a calendar or fiscal year. Fortunately, it was deferred after AFPSLAI Management requested for a one year moratorium of the implementation of the circular. It’s a good move from the management because it will be difficult for members to adjust.

By the way, I’ve heard rumors that some commercial banks were complaining about the status of AFPSLAI. As a result, BSP intervened to put some controlling measures. Well, a typical commercial bank time deposit interest rates only ranges from 0.8% to 1.8% including withholding tax per year. Union Bank has the highest interest rate with 1.85% rate per annum followed by PNB with 1.65% interest rates per annum.

They will surely complain. AFPSLAI can generate more than thrice the rate of commercial banks in one quarter!

Finally, even though BSP issued Circular 789 Series of 2013, AFPSLAI will continue soaring high and be the best financial institution in the Philippines. Kudos to the CEO and Board of Trustees! Indeed, there’s something about AFPSLAI.

*** AFPSLAI was established on December 1, 1972 with a starting capital of P950, 000 only. The organization is registered under Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). It is categorized as a non-bank financial intermediary. Their total asset reached more than P50 Billion with a total membership of more than             450, 000. The Chairman of the Board is our present Chief of Staff, Gen Emmanuel T Bautista, AFP.***

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