"Buhay ng Sundalo" (Life of a Philippine Soldier)
As the Battle of Marawi remains unresolved, Filipinos everywhere could only hope that all of our fellow countrymen and women who remain behind enemy lines find safe refuge at the soonest possible time.
For over four months now, this armed conflict—between our Philippine Government Forces and the affiliated militants of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) and the Levant which includes Maute and Abu Sayyaf Salafi Jihadist groups— has been claiming innocent lives and tearing apart families in the process.
Amidst danger and demise, we find Lieutenant Colonel Elmer Suderio, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, G3 1st Infantry Division, Philippine Army in Camp Ranao, Marawi City. While he and his troops regularly put their lives on the line to rescue fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons, Suderio stresses what a Philippine soldier’s battle-ready mindset is supposed to be anchored on: shatterproof concentration. Whenever anyone of them steps into a warzone, even thinking about their own families should be viewed as off-limits. “Pag papasok ka sa [gera], dapat focused ka. There is no such thing as direct solution sa gera, situational palagi.”
As volatile is the very nature of war, Suderio reveals that wandering thoughts can lead to nothing good. “Pag mahina ka mag-adjust at lagi mo iniisip pamilya mo, na mamatay ka, ganito ganyan, hindi ka makakadiskarte.”
While there is no certainty as to when all this would come to an end, we can be confident however that the we have men and women on the ground who are risking life and limb to restore peace in the capital and largest city of the province of Lanao Del Sur. Suderio exemplifies what a true public servant is all about: country comes first at all costs—even before family and at the face of death.