We ended August by commemorating National Heroes’ Day; remembering the likes of Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Jose Rizal, and other great men and women who fought for our nation’s sovereignty and freedom, unafraid of death.
Rightly do we regard them as heroes!
And rightly, too, do we say that we are not bereft of heroes today— heroes who selflessly give themselves to the nation. In fact, due to recent events, our workforce of doctors, nurses, policemen, and soldiers are now appreciated more than ever. We applaud them.
In this feature, we’d like to highlight our soldiers. Soldiers may be holding guns, but they are real people with families and emotions and dreams. Day in and day out, they rise to the occasion of serving the Filipino people. They shoulder the tasks of our nation’s defense with skill and wisdom, sometimes diffusing threats we never know about.
Here are three of them whom we had the chance to interview. We asked them, “What is your dream?”– a simple question, but one that makes us appreciate them even more.
“My dream is simple: for my family to have a stable life, for them to be happy, for my kids to finish their studies, and for them to have families of their own. Getting there is a continuous effort, which is why I am working as hard as I can to provide for my family while fulfilling my duties as a soldier, but still regularly keeping in touch with them—I talk to them, get to know them more; they do this with me, too, so that they’ll know me just like any other normal person. “Bilang sundalo, ang pangarap ko naman para sa ating bansa ay magkaroon ng kapayapaan, kaayusan, at pagkakaisa, upang ang bawat Pilipino ay mabigyan ng pagkakataon na makamit ang kanilang mga mithiin at mabuhay na ligtas sa anumang panganib.”
Major Genesis Gabrido (Director of Information Support Affairs Center, Civil Military-Operations Regiment)
“Years ago, I dreamt of becoming a policewoman— or not necessarily a policewoman— I just wanted to serve our country. It all started when I was in college. I joined ROTC, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, and after four (4) years of college, I went to POTC (Provisionary Officer Training) and sunod sunod na ‘yun. Nagpa-Call-To-Active duty na ako. And here I am, after 21 years, already a Captain at the Philippine Army. It is an achievement and a great accomplishment for myself because I get to provide for my family while serving the Philippine Army sa pagiging teacher ko rito sa Civil Military Operations School. I am able to share the knowledge that I gained when I was still a student of this school.”
Captain Mary Jephte N. Mañebog (Head of the Research and Doctrine Development, Civil Military-Operations School, Philippine Army)
“I grew up in a military family. Isa sa mga inspiration ko is ‘yung papa ko who was a retired Colonel. I can say na ito ‘yung pangarap ko— to serve in a way that my father, grandfather, uncles, and brothers served the country. Katulad ng maraming sundalo, pangarap ko rin para sa ating bansa ang mawala na ang pakikipaglaban at wala nang away. Sa palagay ko, nagsisimula ang away sa mga taong gustong lumamang kaya’t iyon ang unang-una ko na pangarap for every Filipinos to be selfless at isipin ang iba bago ang sarili. In this time of pandemic where all of us fight an invisible enemy, we need to recognize the sacrifices of all our frontliners. Let us keep in mind that following protocol is [not only] submissiveness but an act of selflessness.”
Major Maria Lourdes Ranario (Former Assistant Commandant at the Civil Military-Operations School, Philippine Army)
Hearing these words from our modern-day heroes, let’s ask ourselves what our dreams are, too, and what we can do for our nation. Despite the pandemic, let us take the stance of victory, believing that tomorrow is still worth fighting for; worth dreaming for. We can move together as ONE to see the Philippines rise.
Janina Marie Rivera is the author of the book, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear and has co-authored the devotional, Dawns, published by OMF Literature. She is a contributing poet in the books Joyful Light and Whitmanthology: on Loss and Grief by Various Authors. She is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine.