The Cadet Corps Online


Porma!

This week is Homecoming Week at Loakan.

Sir Dan Jimenez 77 sounded off an appeal to members of the Corps to change their profile photo to one of themselves as cadets.

The response was quick and viral. And very heartwarming. It was as if the Cadet Corps started appearing from all over and I was hearing the “attention call” faintly in the background. It was good to see my classmates, upperclassmen and underclassmen post images of themselves when their hair was shorter, their midsections trim and their uniforms immaculately pressed and shining where applicable.

All over social media, photos of the Corps in formation or otherwise started appearing, along with anecdotes of incidents that would not have been recalled had they not been recounted online.

Yet it was the old photos that rekindled the fires inside, bringing out a nostalgia that we had thought had been buried deep already.

Once again, I felt the need to brace up properly and conduct myself accordingly.

It had that effect on me as well as many of my other friends online who did so.

Where we are now is largely due to choices we made then, circumstances that influenced them and perhaps, destiny. While a great many lived out their careers in uniform, many others as well either left Loakan in civvies or hung up their uniforms much earlier.

Yet we are all the better for it.

This week in Fort Del Pilar, a great many of her sons and daughters will be riding vehicles across the plains of Luzon, hurdling the mountains of Baguio to reach their precious destination, the Philippine Military Academy. There,they will inhale the scent of fresh pine needles, walk through familiar pavement, visit old haunts, lament the destruction of the old barracks and look forward to the parades and seeing the other members of the Corps during their respective “times”.

And come back down to reality, refreshed, infused with another dose of what it felt like to be a cadet once more – when the environment was more ideal and it was possible to harbor idealistic goals.

Happy Homecoming to all the Cavaliers setting foot once again on Borromeo Field.

Academy, O hail to thee!

(Photo courtesy of Dado Enrique 83, the Class First Captain and Regimental Commander)

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I’m Back!!!


Hello there, sports fans!!! After a month’s hiatus, I’m back! Like the sun after the dark of night, I’m back. Like a wave after the ebbing tide, I’m back! Like Gen Douglas McArthur wading to the shores of Leyte, I’m back! Like a plebe ordered by his upperclassman to resign, hell, no, sir! I AM BACK!!!

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I’m Back!!! Ay, apo, andito na ko!!!

And what a great time to be back! Late last year, we witnessed the glitz and glam of the UAAP cheerdance competition. We ooohed and we aaahed at the non-stop drama as Ateneo emerged as the UAAP men’s basketball champions. We marveled at the shocking San Beda upset win for the NCAA cage crown. We cried for joy at the 2-win streak of the latest edition of the Gilas Team. We got our almost daily dose of unpredictable NBA action. And we gave a collective sigh of relief as the PBA teams finally got their acts together. And yes, there seems to be some development in regard the move to oust Peping Cojuangco from the POC!!! Indeed, the sports gods have been kind enough to favor us couch potatoes with a feast of tricks and treats to whet our insatiable sports appetite. Bon a petit!

The changing of the guards at the UAAP cheerdance competition was unexpected. The National University juggernaut had dominated for the past 4 years; and they were gunning for a golden opportunity to tie UST’s unequalled string of 5 spectacular championships from 2002 to 2006. That said, the NU Pep Squad came ready to shock-and-awe as the first presentor at the full house MOA Arena.

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As always, the UAAP Cheerdance Competition is a great crowd-drawer. (ABS-CBN)

But the jinx of the first performer seemed to have cast a spell on the erstwhile-invincible troupe. From dauntless to doubtful, the NU performance tumbled with a spate of errors. From masters to mere mortals, they meekly exited the mat. Giving the rest of the teams the confidence and the audacity to perform with wild abandon. Unheralded Adamson, whose best finish by far was last year’s 3rd place finish, joins the prestigious ranks of UAAP Cheerdance champions.

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A first-win ever for Adamson. (Arvin Lim)

Then, we feasted over the much-ballyhooed UAAP men’s basketball finals between arch-rivals Ateneo and La Salle. Indeed, it was a treat not for the faint of hearts. It was Ateneo’s system against La Salle’s mayhem. For foreign flavor, it was Ateneo’s Baldwin against La Salle’s M’Bala, It was the blue sky against the green forest. The crowd was loud, and the cheering merry. In the end, Ateneo got the crown, while La Salle could only frown.

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Ateneo celebrates after finally copping the UAAP Basketball crown. (Inquirer)

And we still hadn’t had enough. In the rival NCAA cage league, a rampaging Lyceum quintet, unbeaten for 18 games in the elimination round, found themselves facing the grizzled champs, San Beda, for the title. Needing just 1 more win to clinch a glorious season, the Lyceum Pirates found themselves banged, bamboozled and badly beaten. The San Beda Red Lions, proud champs in 10 of the last 12 championships, banked on their championship experience and a solid defense to etch out a monumental drama-of-an-upset. From cheers to tears, the Lyceum Pirates simply unraveled. For the Red Lions, it was steady pacing, patiently learning and peaking just right on time for the games that really mattered.

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San Beda displayed the mettle of champions, coming from behind to beat a heavily-favored Lyceum squad. (Inquirer)

The newest edition of the Pilipinas Gilas scored 2 dazzling wins over Japan and Taipei to land in a tie with favored Australia in the ongoing Fiba World Cup Asia qualifier. After an inglorious run in Beirut where the team got blown out embarrassingly by South Korea, the twin wins are an encouraging morale booster for the country. Here’s hoping that the year 2018 gives Gilas the right breaks.

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Jason Castro led the Gilas Team to 2 coveted wins in the ongoing FIBA Eliminationion Round. (Rappler)

The PBA season is underway. It is hoped that the snaffu that led ultimately to Commissioner Chito Narvasa’s unceremonious resignation will simmer down quickly. Indeed, it was a tumultuous off-season for the PBA, after Narvasa approved what was clearly a one-sided trade for prized rookie Christian Stanhardinger. But there are new players and new alignments that make this season quite interesting. Despite the brouhaha, we just have to move on, folks.

And finally, in the wonderful world that is the NBA. There is never a dull moment, what with the new format for the All Star Game this week, and the mammoth overhaul of the Cavs’ line-up after a spate of losses early this year.

For the All Star Game this weekend, Lebron James and Steph Curry were named the 2 All Star Game captains in the new format after getting the most votes in their respective conferences. And – using ordinary pick-up style gym match-ups – the 2 captains get to choose who they want to play with in their respective teams. This refreshing format will see exciting new line-ups where fans’ conference loyalties are thrown out the window.

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Going back to the regular season, the merry mix-up of marquee players, plus the arrival of this latest batch of upstart rookies, makes for more excitement. There is unpredictability, there is great innovation, there is dazzling speed and fearsome flight in every game they play.

And so, to my fellow couch potatoes, there is so much for us to look forward to this year. So bring out your popcorn and pour out the beer. Bring out the pompoms, the bullhorns, the gear. Keep the folks happy, so they won’t mind your mess. Make yourself comfortable, and don’t mind the rest. For the best is yet to come. And yes, you do have fresh batteries for the remote, do you?

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Don’t you dare change the channel!!! (Pinterest)
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Ghosts of My Christmas Pasts


There is something in the cold, in the shortened days, in the long clear star-studded nights that makes one remember the fallen leaves of the past. In all the merriment of the coming Christmas and the anticipation of the new year, to look back seems not only natural, it is a reverent tribute to what can be no more. So the mind wanders before it forgets, the heart poignantly cradles before it discards. Ten days before Christmas, the ghosts haunt again.

1. We live time according to stages. In infancy, minutes if not seconds dictate what must be done. Feed the baby, change the diaper, put him to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. Then days come with schools and play dates. Not too long, the teen age years of awakening and self actualization bring forth the new person. Then he goes away to college and comes back on breaks, changing each time to be on his own. Then one day he graduates, finds a job and seasons pass for holidays to dictate that yes, it is time to visit home. If only for a while.

2. December 24th was always the busiest time at the market.It was also the time I would gather my brothers so we could spend Christmas eve with my parents and the rest of my younger siblings. The jeepney ride would take over an hour with sleepy commuters hauling their Christmas presents while carols tried to give meaning to Jesus’ birth. Christmas was not easy on the poor. The stark difference of haves and have-nots was glaringly more unmerciful. It was a realization that the past never buried, that the hurt never forgot. Tears flowed freely on Christmas days.

(5 days to go)

3. The letter was waiting when I got home Christmas eve. It was supposed to break the silence and to bridge the distance. Most, it was to keep the hope alive. Uncertainty and doubts had reduced the fire to dying embers. I did not have to read the words to know the contents. Jesus was born on Christmas Day to give hope, to offer salvation, to give peace, to affirm love. I had always felt the purity of pain on Christmas. A pain that memory would refuse to let go.

4. I just wanted two six shooters with a holster. I did not care about new shirts, new shoes or new pants. I wanted to appear the meanest and the baddest sheriff in town. At 5 years old, I just wanted to rule the world on Christmas Day.

5. The Simbang Gabi also referred to as midnight mass was a time for teen-agers to show off their their brand new duds and to scout for “steadies”. I stayed late with Tata Vener so he could finish my bell bottomed jeans. He finished it just as the sun rose. As the church bells signaled the end of the mass, I watched the faithfuls head for the “puto bungbung” and “bibingka” stands. I watched my contemporaries laughed and exchanged glances in a flirtation called youth and life. With empty pockets and empty dreams, I just watched. Youth was never my time. I was never young.

6. The upperclassmen had left. Fort del Pilar and the Philippine Military Academy, were all ours to rule and enjoy. We, the plebes, were kings of barracks! No parades, no inspections, no Academics. Just food, sleep and sports. Would we go back to civilian laxities and disregard 8 months of military discipline? Surprisingly, reveille and taps made sure we did not. The traditions of the outside world did invade our disciplined existence. Yes, there was the midnight mass, the “arroz caldo” after wards and on Christmas day, we marched to the Cadet’s Chapel and just like the rest of Christendom, bowed our heads in gratitude and full faith to remember the birth of Christ who would deliver mankind from sin. From far away, I missed those I love as the cold of the mountains hummed “silent night, holy night”. The wages of the life I chose and was destined to live.

(one week after)

7. Gift giving was a tradition Marilou pursued with conviction. Each child must have the same number of gifts. Twelve days of Christmas were counted with gifts being opened. Then they grew up and the gifts waited under the tree until they came home. Still the number of wrapped presents remained equal. The child regardless of age, never grew up.

8. There was something in solitude while in a crowd. To be an island was a choice. The mind would defy reality and believe its own. In Sinta’s, Jo’s, Andrew’s and Coco’s absence this Christmas, the heart sought the refuge of the past. They were missed sorely, a missing almost akin to pain. But the hidden smiles buoyed what the present could not deny. Love ruled the past, the present and the future.

8. Another Christmas past, my dearest would post. The decorations came down yesterday, kept and would be put up again in 11 months. Hopes were raised for a completeness only loved ones could fulfill. The ghosts would go to sleep but would surely awaken with the first carols and the last falling leaf. I would refuse to count how many more Christmases before the last. Still mortality would make reminders in painful creaky joints and wrinkles more permanent than time. As must be, the dwindling numbers made days like treasures. What was scarce could only be of utmost importance.

9. Jesus was and is and will be the reason for Christmas. The ghosts that haunted would come and go and would decay with age and fading memories. I had believed in Christmas when hope almost faded and desperation ruled. I had sought refuge in tearful carols and wishes of good tidings. I had trusted strangers’ kind smiles and peace to all mankind. Christmas would be past but like the kid who would never give up, I would look forward to the one down the pike with all the expectations of love, of happiness and yes, “of good will to men”.

Christmas would be forever.

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Goodbye, Regis Hall.


Regis Hall

Several weeks ago, we were informed of the pending motion to demolish one of the cadet barracks buildings in Fort del Pilar, and though the news was jolting, I thought nothing much of it until there were photos posted on the ongoing demolition.

The images were quite shattering.

Regis Hall demolition guard room Erwin Luga

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Regis Hall demolition 1

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I never got to stay in this building during my abbreviated time spent in the Academy, but I was quite familiar with it, as I had to visit quite a number of upperclassmen before and after taps, for some unfinished business elsewhere.

Regis Hall was also where the Headquarters, Tactics Group held office, at the lower floors and if you found yourself there during office hours, the reasons were grave, for sure. Otherwise, they were neat places to hide in at night, when you didn’t want to get found.

To be sure, quite a number of adventures transpired in the rooms and hallways of this building. And many a former cadet from the classes of the 70’s onward have either frightening tales or hilarious ones of this place – from rooms to the rooftop.

And this is why the destruction of Regis Hall means a lot to it’s former inhabitants and visitors.

Regis Hall demolition 315 Erwin Luga

Regis Hall windows

While it may be true that nothing can erase the vividness of the memory of this edifice, future generations of cadets will have to content themselves with pictures and narratives of the adventures and misadventures that happened in the building that will now be replaced by another – sturdier, perhaps – with newer memories that have yet to be created.

Regis Hall will now continue to exist in the minds of those whose memories are beginning to fade, revitalized only during the small gatherings when stories are recounted and exchanged, lubricated by toxins of choice. Regis Hall will now be recalled along with the likes of other landmarks such as the Post Library, Lorenzo Hall, Central Barracks, the former quadrangle, which are forever etched into the memory banks of the Corps at that time when they were there.

Goodbye, Regis Hall. You were dreaded, longed for, a comfort, a bane and most of all, a home to a great many for at least a semester or trimester once upon a time.

You will live on in our hearts.

(Photo credits to Cavaliers Augusto “MarQ84” Marquez Jr. ’84 for the external views of the former Regis Hall, and two other Cavalier uppies and good friends for their images of what used to be a home for a great many cadets.)

Regis Hall 2

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Scout Ranger Capt Rommel Sandoval’s Promise: Walang Iwanan


by: Preciosa S. Soliven

a repost from The Philippine Star, 30 Nov 2017

Thank you, Precious, for this wonderful article honoring a young officer who died during the last quarter of the Marawi campaign, Captain Rommel Sandoval. Thanks too to Natashya Gutierrez of Rappler for her write-up. To you, Cavalier Rommel, my snappy salute!!! You embody what our alma mater song ever so gently inculcated in our hearts…

When bells for us are rung, And our last taps is sung

Let generations see, our country free!

Oh, Lead to righteous way, Those solid ranks of gray

Thy virtues to display, Academy, Oh hail to thee…

September 10, Day 111 of the Marawi Siege

The Marawi siege lasted from May 23 to Oct 23, 2017. On the third month, the 11th Scout Ranger Company was the only company that had not lost a soldier in the siege. Capt Rommel Sandoval was determined that none of his 50-man company would be left behind. He kept pounding the motto “Walang iwanan” (No one left behind) to his men.

Sept 10, Day 111 of the Marawi Siege, Sandoval’s men were tasked to retake one of the few remaining strongholds of the enemy. As the military closed in on the terrorists and continued to push them back towards Lanao Lake, the 5-story Landbank building was crucial for the Army’s advance. They had tried to retake it previously, but it was deadly dangerous. On that day however, Sandoval’s men were ready and determined.

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Endgame, as the Rangers flushed out the last vestiges of resistance. (South China morning Post)

Under Sandoval’s watch, they cleared the 5th floor, the 4th, the 3rd and then the 2nd. The 1st floor was more difficult. After dropping grenades to scare off any remaining terrorists hiding below, 3 rangers descended to the 1st floor before realizing it was still risky.  The enemy spotted the 3 rangers as they backed up to return to the 2nd floor. There was a heavy exchange of fire.

In the gunfire, one of the men, Cpl Jayson Mante, was hit on his hand. As the other 2 managed to make it back to the 2nd floor, Mante chose instead to drop to his stomach. He knew his injury would slow him down, and that he would expose himself if he tried to come back up. A concerned Sandoval sent 4 troopers to try to recover Mante, who at this point had suffered several injuries from enemy fire. He lay still on the 1st floor, waiting for death.

Damaged buildings and houses are seen in Marawi city
Damaged buildings and houses are seen as soldiers mop-up the last remaining blocks. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

Knowing the military would not leave Mante behind, the enemies watched closely, aiming at any soldier who tried to come down from the 2nd floor to save him. Platoon leader 2Lt Arvie Ventura who constantly radioed updates to Sandoval from the 2nd floor, recalled that Sandoval came down to where he was to assess the situation himself after several failed attempts. “Suddenly, he disappeared. I didn’t notice he was gone,” Ventura said.

Sandoval had found a hole created by the enemy that led him to another building, another route to save Mante. When he saw that Mante was no longer moving, Sandoval made a decision. He instructed his men to give him cover fire, and ran towards Mante. “He didn’t hesitate,” Ventura recalled. “When he got there, he checked Cpl Mante’s pulse, and as he tried to pull him to safety, the enemy spotted him. His first hit was on his side. Sandoval let out a scream. but it wasn’t a scream of agony or pain,” said Ventura, “it was an angry scream, a frustrated scream. He was so angry, I could see it on his face.”

Even after he was hit, Sandoval turned towards the enemy, aimed and fired back. The enemy hit him on his neck, then fatally on his cheek. Ventura said Sandoval managed to radio in his final words: “I got hit.” As the bullets came flying in, Sandoval, in his last moments, was still thinking of his men. He crawled on top of Mante to shield him from getting hit further. When they recovered Sandoval’s body, bullets were lodged in his chest. “He chose to take all the bullets for his troops,” Ventura said.

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Ranger Rommel, RIP. (Facebook)

He was soon to be promoted to major after years of excellent service. The war was coming to an end. He was so close to coming home.

Lt Col Jose Jesus Luntok, Sandoval’s immediate superior, and commander of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion said, “I had 6 companies under me. He was the ace of the Battalion. All hard objectives, I gave to him. He planned, he led, he was the most dependable.”  Lt Gen Carlito Galvez III, Sandoval’s mentor at the Philippine Military Academy and Commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said “Rommel could have been one of the best leaders of his time.” 

Sandoval was commended by the presence of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo during his necrological service last Sept 15 at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

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No less than Pres Rodrigo Duterte was present to honor the late Capt rommel Sandoval during his necrological services. (Pinas)

Ani Ello Sandoval, the love of his life

Ani Ello Sandoval, Rommel’s wife, comes from a family of Air Force men. She met Rommel through her brother, who was the squad leader at PMA in Baguio. It was Scout Ranger Col Dennis Eclarin who introduced me to this good-looking, very friendly mestiza lady during the 67th founding anniversary of the Scout Rangers at Camp Tecson, in San Miguel, Bulacan. The event was attended by President Duterte to honor the 51 Scout Rangers who gave their lives in the Marawi Siege.

The Scout Rangers lost 51 of their finest men in the fight to retake Marawi from the ISIS terrorists. Capt Rommel Sandoval was their most senior casualty. (Facebook)

Ani disclosed that she did not mind the contrast between Rommel’s humble beginnings in a farm in Bauan,  Batangas and her growing up in Alabang, manila, attending the elite Woodrose School and its Opus Dei University of Asia and the Pacific, for she was very much in love and looked up to him.

Out of the 17 years of togetherness, 7 of which they were married, she patiently waited for him as he was assigned in various places in Jolo to Samar, Bohol, Negros, and back again to Jolo. She explained (she had been inculcated) that a soldier’s wife counts second to one’s duty to his country, and that she may never accompany him to any of his assignments. “Meantime, I became an event planner and arranged a holiday trip together as soon as the siege is over.”

Ani described her decade and a half with him as “the best years of my life.” On the morning he died, Ani said she received a text from him at 6:47am. “Good morning, B. Trabaho muna. (Off to work.) we will get the Landmark today.” That was it. That was all.

“I reminded myself, he was never mine to begin with. he reminded me it was always duty, honor, country. I’m giving him back to the Lord. I thank the Lord He gave me a very good man.” Ani said.

(Reference: Rappler article by Natashya Gutierrez, Sept 24, 2017)

For a clearer view, please click on the picture.

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Marawi Will Rise Again


After 5 months of blood, sweat and tears, Marawi City is finally free. Marawi’s sons and daughters can now sleep in peace, finally delivered from the terrifying bomb blasts and sniper fire. The skies are blue once again, as though signaling the return of peace and tranquility in the area. The sound of chirping birds have returned. They are back where there used to be just the billowing smoke from crumbling buildings, and the constant stacatto of deadly machine-gun and mortar fire.

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The clean-up begins. (courtesy of Rappler.)

Marawi has suffered much from the war. The death and destruction is still evident in many of the streets of Marawi’s central business district.  Truly, it was distressing to witness the ravages of war as the government’s elite assault forces stormed in to flush out the dreaded ISIS elements from the city.

Government soldiers stand in front of damaged houses and buildings in Marawi city
Government soldiers stand in front of the ruins of Marawi.
(REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)

And the job isn’t over yet. We must look ahead at the gargantuan task of rebuilding this once-bustling city.

Looking back, there are hidden gems of goodwill that must be surfaced from the rubble of hatred and devastation. For in the midst of all the misery were many poignant episodes of heroism and humanity that the Marawi incident gifted us with.

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Innocent civilians being escorted out of the danger areas.
(courtesy of esquire magazine.)

When the war erupted, many people were caught by surprise. Muslims and Christians alike did not know who to trust, what to do, where to go. In many cases, when the ISIS force suddenly surfaced, Muslims hid Christians in their homes so that they would not be taken hostage by the ISIS fighters. Such acts of kindness and bravery were repeated countless times, saving many Christians left isolated in the predominantly Muslim community.

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Muslims and Christians helped one another during those confusing times. 
(courtesy of the US-Philippine Society)

A group of young Muslims braved the danger of the ISIS threat, walking the seemingly-abandoned streets, exposing themselves unnecessarily, looking for civilians left behind. Armed only with megaphones to call out stragglers inside the deserted homes, this group of steel-hearted men fancied themselves as a ‘suicide squad’. Nonetheless, they were able to bring out many innocent civilians, reuniting them with families worried sick over their welfare.

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Good samaritans out to provide help for others. (Care of MindaNews)

Soldiers took great risks and made personal sacrifices to rescue and save Muslim and Christian hostages alike. Some were injured, some have taken the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the process. A Scout Ranger commander would sacrifice his own life for his wounded sergeant who was wounded and pinned down in close-quarter battle. Another Scout Ranger lieutenant braved an ongoing firefight, to negotiate a ceasefire that would eventually lead to the release of some hostages. He laid down his rifle, called his people to stand down, removed his helmet and body armor, exposed himself, if only to show sincerity to the hostile militants.

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Pres Duterte pays tribute to a fallen soldier. (ABS-CBN News)

The assaulting troops made sure that cultural sensitivities were observed. Strict instructions were given to the troops to make sure that this was followed. Bodies of dead fighters were treated with respect. The Air Force were under strict instructions not to bomb the mosques, even if they knew that the mosques were being used to manufacture more bombs, and house observers and snipers. Only small arms fire was used to deter fighters firing from these religious establishments. Even before the firing stopped, plans were being readied to repair damages in these mosques.

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The Grand Mosque remains standing, despite heavy destruction on the periphery. (Courtesy of Philstar)

In the dawn encounter that brought down top leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, the soldiers elected not to shoot while the terrorists were moving with the hostages. Both were taken out with clean shots, as the soldiers made sure that no hostages would be imperiled. 

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Refugees were a primary concern. (Philstar.com)

While the fighting raged, soldiers and other government agencies raced to provide comfort to both the Muslim and Christian refugees. The conditions in the evacuation centers were certainly not the best, but they strove to make it better, particularly for the impressionable kids who had been traumatized by the war. As the PNP SAF troopers prepared to leave for Luzon after the campaign, scores of children crowded the buses crying, acknowledging the strong bond the troopers had developed with the kids.

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Children giving the PNP SAF troopers a tearful send-off. (From Yahoo News)

And as the fighting ended, our military forces were withdrawn as quietly as possible from the frontlines. There was no gloating  over an enemy’s downfall, no loud victorious display in Marawi. Just respect for the fallen – be they comrade or adversary, care for the wounded, sympathy and support for the evacuees. The government immediately led talks on rebuilding the city, on strengthening the ties between the Muslim and Christian communities, on reconciliation and the need for more collaboration. 

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It is time to rebuild homes, and rebuild hope for a better future. (courtesy of Philstar)

The fight in Marawi was contained solely by Philippine soldiers. ISIS tried desperately to make it an international war. They poured in fighters and support from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the Middle East. They called for more support from all over the world. But the fact that they were quelled decisively in a short span of time, and by a purely local force, has made them lose face and will dampen their recruitment efforts at the global level. It is something that we, as a nation, can be proud of. 

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Goverment troops prepare to assault the Maute group. Photo by Bobby Lagsa/Rappler

Marawi has gone through a lot of pain. Her pain is the country’s pain as well. And as the fighting has subsided, it is time to rehabilitate and rebuild. There are valuable lessons to be learned from the Marawi siege. From the root causes of the siege, the need to improve the conditions prevailing in our Muslim communities, the need for more attention for our Southern frontiers, the need for more government presence, the need for more goodwill and collaboration, etc. On the other hand, we also learned much about our government agencies’ capabilities in major disaster events such as this. And we learned about the needs of our Armed Forces as well. We must not let the Marawi incident pass without learning from it. We must not allow the Marawi siege to happen elsewhere. Never again.

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Never again! (Rappler)

Today, Marawi may look battered and punch-drunk. But she will survive. She will recover, she will be better from the experience. From the ruins of the old Marawi shall rise a better, stronger, more resilient Marawi. With God’s will, with the sympathy and goodwill coming from across the globe, and with the lessons in humanity etched in blood and tears, Marawi shall rise again.   

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An interfaith congregation prays for peace and harmony to reign
once again in Marawi. (Courtesy of UCA News)

May God bless the people who have worked together – and continue to work together – to help rebuild Marawi. May God bless the Philippines. Let us all join hands in this noble endeavor to rebuild this paradise. Inshallah.

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Move to ‘Oust Peping’ Kicks Off!!!


The die is cast. Last Thursday, simultaneous rallies were conducted in Manila and Cebu in order to highlight the growing awareness for the ‘Peping Resign’ campaign. Led by sports figures Mon Fernandez and Doc Perry Mequi, the rallies were a great jumpstart to the move to finally wrest control of the reins of power from the mediocrity, the incompetence, and the lack of vigor that defined Peping and his hapless sports mafia. As more and more people become aware of the sad plight of our athletes, and the bleak future for our youth in general, leaders from different sectors of our society are slowly banding together to show Peping the door ever so painlessly.

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The revered Doc Perry Mequi makes his voice heard. 

Peping has been at the helm of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) since 2005. He is by far the longest reigning POC President since its creation in 1975. His reign has also proved to be the least productive, the most embarrassing. Here are the results of the SEA Games during his incumbency:

  • 2005 (1st place) – 113 G, 84 S, 94 B
  • 2007 (6th place) – 41 G, 91 S, 96 B 
  • 2009 (5th place) – 38 G, 35 S, 51 B
  • 2011 (6th place) – 36 G, 56 S, 77 B
  • 2013 (7th place) – 29 G, 34 S, 37 B
  • 2015 (6th place) – 29 G, 36 S, 66 B
  • 2017 (6th place) – 24 G, 33 S, 64 B

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From the hallowed heights of the top spot in 2005, Peping has managed to drag us down to the depths at 6th place. At 6th, we are the lowest among the original members, which is also composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. We have even been surpassed by Vietnam, a new member which had just experienced the painful ravages caused by decades of war. At one time, we have even gone as low as 7th behind a financially-crippled Myanmar! 

We are second only to Indonesia in population, which provides us a clear advantage in talent base. We are third in terms of GDP, which clearly tells us that financial resources should not be a problem to support our athletes. Where lies the problem? How do you explain those years when we sunk lower and lower until we became the butt of jokes among our Asean neighbors? 

Peping’s team once again talked of a lofty 50-gold haul for the recently-concluded SEA Games. What did we get? We slid even lower, with only a 24-gold harvest. What happened? Cynthia Carreon, Peping’s Chief of Mission (COM) could only give a simple answer: “The athletes tried hard, but it happened that they couldn’t beat the others.” After the disaster, Peping simply shrugged it off and talked about preparing for the next one; as though it didn’t really matter to him that we didn’t hit our goal.

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Peping and his sports mafia

Peping and his sports mafia are all too old, too callous, and too blind to know the harsh impacts of these oft-repeated debacles. He fails miserably to understand that the regular acceptance of defeat and mediocrity is eating up on our people’s dignity and pride. It makes lackluster performance acceptable, and it portrays the Filipinos as a weak and corrupt people. Peping is so focused on saving his own image as POC head that he fails to realize that there is a bigger stake out there; and that is: the need to protect the country’s image.

What an irony! For a man who has fought Marcos for overstaying in Malacanang, and for allegedly abusing his position as President, here he is practically modeling himself after Marcos. People wonder how the Yellow Army now feel about Peping’s insistence on staying. There is clearly no more nobility in this fight, just plain and simple hypocrisy.

Peping can still salvage a measure of respect by resigning. But should he insist on staying, people will only see through the greed and lust for power. Hence, there will be great condemnation and shame should he opt to remain. Peping should save himself from the ignominy of being booted out. Resign now, and the sports world will still applaud him for his glorious sacrifice.

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At 83 years old, he still wants to lead the POC. 

 After 13 years in power, Peping’s evil empire is finally showing signs of cracking up. With calls for Peping to resign growing louder and louder, even the members of his inner circle are already trying to find their individual exit strategies to make themselves acceptable, once a new order comes in. Many NSA Presidents are keeping their cards close to their chests now, as a realignment of forces in the POC General Assembly is being discussed in whispers. Everyone is trying to find the right insurance ticket in order to survive the incoming storm. It is time to ‘call a friend’.

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PSC Commisioner Mon Fernandez leads the Cebu rally. 

  Peping and his evil empire will fall in infamy. It is just a matter of time. Who sinks with him and who stays remains to be seen. Who will remain to pick up the pieces? Who will take up the cudgels for the new order? Who will chart the new course for the new POC? We hope that the sharks are unmasked for who they truly are. We hope that the new group will have nothing but the best of intentions for the country and its athletes, and is ready to take on this noble undertaking. 

May the Force be with us all. 

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