The Battle of Marawi has ended.
Oct 17. 2017 - After the deaths of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, the president has declared Marawi free from the terrorist threats and influence, thus beginning their rehabilitation. After months of war and sacrificing their lives, it's time our heroes rest, and it's time we give our thanks.
First visit is Oct 21, 2017 to V Luna, the money here will be earmarked for the second visit to V Luna and to the two other hospitals. All money collected here will be given to the critically wounded and injured who are in major hospitals in Manila, with priority to AFP MEDICAL CENTER (V Luna) and to Army General Hospital and Manila Naval Hospital if given enough money to distribute.
Thank you to our brave heroes.
(body) Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano
(banner) Agence France-Presse article, Inquirer.net
Oct. 21, 201
Thank you again everyone for buying the shirts and giving your money, time, and effort so we could give our cherished soldiers a small token of appreciation. We tried our best to tell them how appreciated they were.
A few things:
1. V LUNA is the catchbasin of battle casualties, wherever their battle location is. While war in Marawi raged, simultaneous battles were waged in Agusan, Jolo, etc. against Abu Sayyaf, the NPA.
Thanks to the money we were able to raise, all BATCAS (battle casualties) numbering 183 were able to receive 5k each. The critically wounded (numbering 12) got P20 k each.
Names and photos of the soldiers are not allowed to be released as per protocol, so I asked Major Franco to write a certification detailing how many people were helped. This was witnessed by 1Lt. Tugade and Col. Javar.
If you have any questions, you may look for S3, VLMC. The operations branch of the hospital.
I'm happy that we were also able to give a little to the non-Marawi soldiers who are similarly casualties of other, equally important wars.
2. One thing that surprised me was when Major Franco brought us to another ward. We met 11 perfectly able guys, no physical injury... but were recovering from what they call "war shock" in the Psych ward.
I hope your letters give them a sense of affirmation that they did the right thing, and their sacrifices were not for naught. These are the guys in the first photo. However, I could hear the agonized cries (and see the man) who may be fresh from the war. He has completely lost it, and was shouting gibberish.
This is considered the better adapted ward. There is another ward where the traumatized soldiers have a tendency to become violent, and so are separated by and contained within cells.
My wish is that the government and private sectors work together to provide mental health consultations with our soldiers fresh from Marawi to check for PTSD.
3. I did not have a chance to really talk to many--but one story that, to me, perfectly encapsulates the never-say-die attitude of our soldiers is from a soldier who had a colostomy bag. A bullet hit him on the thigh and shattered it, and affected his pelvic bone. He says he cannot wait to get better because "gaganti pa ako." We reminded him the war is nearly over. "Siguro meron pa yan pagkakataon makaganti." He is not afraid to die, he says, because war is normal to him. "Agahan namin sa Maguindanao, paputok."
Another soldier was hit in the shoulder. He recuperated. Then he went back to war. He was hit in the chest, grazing his lung. These men are titanium.
As I eavesdropped on the conversations between my friend Mich a doctor and a few of them, I could not help but be amazed not just by their courage, but by their fatalism. When a soldier is fatalistic, he is the most scary opponent.
4. Duterte, a busy President, stayed longer than me, a not-so-busy chararat. According to the colonel, he went in the morning, stayed to talk to each soldier, cried with them, and went home at 10 pm. That is the kind of Commander in chief they have. That's the kind of leader that gives his men fire in their hearts.
5. We are lucky to be protected by these men. Until you get close to them, the reality of their sacrifice never truly hits. So we could live in peace and so we could have freedom, young men with their entire lives ahead of them have lost their legs, their arms, their eyes (shrapnel hit), their sanity. Sometimes surviving the war is a fate worse than death. One man has been at the hospital for over a year. He was hit and he died. But he was revived. But he is now a vegetable. His eyes are open but he sees nothing and knows no one, his arms have shrunk, there's nothing to him but his shell of a body. And yet he takes a breath every day, one labored intake after another, and I don't know if his sad state is any way to live.
One of the critically wounded breathes through a tube. Many have become temporary blinded. One soldier squints because all he can see now are shadows and hazy forms. Many have lost their limbs. Many have their limbs intact, look normal, but their arms flop a weird way, because the bones have shattered. Fractured skulls. Severe burns. Multiple facial lacerations.
I look at each of them and think if we really are deserving of their courage and their lives.
Many of them--men with such honor and dignity--have died so we could have this freedom to bitch, to rant, to choose our leader, to be Filipinos.
There are many takeaways to this visit, but the biggest is, how do we live so that we deserve these men and their lives?
How do we love this country so that the children growing up without fathers won't begrudge us their loss? Many children of this generation will grow up without a father, or with a father who is disabled, unable to lift them up or play with them. Will that child's irreversible loss be worth it?
Really, I have no wish for us Filipinos but to be the kind of people that is worth the pain, the sacrifice, and the suffering our bravest of men go through just to fight for our sweet liberty.
We have to be worthy of these men. That's the best token of appreciation we can give.