Testimony of Col. Cesar J. Mejico
A Lost Young Man
Growing up, I was a typical 19-year-old teenager from Manila. I had no hope, no purpose, and I was lost in life. I drank away my youth, spending time with peers who had a bad influence on me. I believed that as long as I was not hurting other people, it was okay to have vices. All I wanted was to live by the status quo: finish my studies, work, marry, grow old, and die.
During my college days, I was a student athlete for my university. My skills led to a special enlistment in the military as an army representative in judo. It looked like I was becoming successful in something, until a friend invited me to a “rock and roll” seminar. That event was not what I expected. Sure, people were singing rock and roll songs, but it was about God. A Jewish man named Bob Winer spoke about God’s message of hope for the world. It was on July 23, 1984. I accepted the Lord as my Savior, and God gave me a new direction in life.
Found By God
My life did not change overnight, but slowly, my heart turned 180 degrees from the worldly habits that once defined me. I read the Bible everyday and learned to obey it. Another man named Tom Bouvier walked with me in my spiritual life, helping me realize Christ’s purpose for me. I knew that God wanted me to share His message of hope to other people; I also wanted others to experience Him the way I did.
After graduating from college, most of my teammates in the army judo left the service. They didn’t want the military life, but I decided to give it a try for a month. During that month of service, I witnessed the infamous “Lupao Massacre” in Nueva Ecija where my first combat unit was involved. After that month, the massacre’s horrors haunted me. My conscience kept telling me not to run away from the problem. Distraught and confused, I went to church, asking Tom and the church leaders for prayers and guidance. Their ministry and prayer motivated me. Eventually, my one month of military service did not end; I stayed in the army for nearly 37 years.
A Chosen Soldier
With the support of my family and my church, I applied to be an army officer in 1986. As a soldier and junior officer, God’s miracles in my life were apparent. When I was a combat officer in the frontlines of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the country was experiencing the peak of insurgency. Violence was rampant to the point that transferring from one detachment to another—and reaching it alive—was already a big accomplishment.
No matter how well you detailed your plan, no matter how elite your unit was, you were always one step away from death. In my military career, I’ve had a lot of close encounters with death.
A Soldier Saved From Death
I was spared when my entire battalion was incarcerated due to the 1986 coup. I was also spared from the infamous Dona Paz wreckage. My Manila-based comrades were traveling to Samar, but I was left in Manila. My commander spared me from going because I was still processing my application for officership.
I was spared when I got wind dragged in a parachute exercise jump with the US Special Forces; that incident almost cost me my life.
I was spared from many clashes, firefights, and ambushes in the 1990’s. I lived through many of the military operations in the remote areas of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao when I was serving my tour in the Special Forces.
In 1991, more than half of my 14-man-team of special forces, or first 8 as we called it, were ambushed and killed in action while climbing a steep hill in South Cotabato. I was initially positioned as the 3rd man, the usual spot of a team leader. However, an old lieutenant was supervising another team by my tail, bumping my position down as the 10thman. In less than 30 minutes, as we climbed the hill, a burst of gunfire from the enemy killed the first 7 men in my team. I cried to God, questioning Him, asking Him why this tragedy happened. But I still believed that He had a purpose.
A Soldier and An Evangelist
As a senior officer, I reached out to soldiers by sharing my beliefs. I taught my soldiers that they can only be real leaders if they did three things in their tour of duty. First, they had to be good husbands. Second, they had to be responsible fathers. And finally, they had to be honest soldiers– all in that order.
However, those three things are difficult to achieve if we would only rely on ourselves. We could only achieve them if we trust in God and invite Him to be the commander of our lives. With God, a single person could positively impact a home, community, unit, and nation. By God’s grace, when I would be laid to rest, I want my headstone to have only three words below my name: Husband. Father. Soldier.
Trusting God has been my “battle cry” as I journeyed with Christ in every unit or office I was assigned to.
After serving in the military for almost 37 years, I retired last November 2019. My faith has been greater than when I first started, and I plan to continue in living by faith, honoring Him in my civilian life.
My journey is not the status quo I envisioned as a young man. Nevertheless, His plans, promises, and miracles remain true throughout the years. He has been faithful in the highs and the lows of life, in the trials, and in every battle. Let the name of Jesus be glorified in our lives.