Category: Feature

A Christmas picture of a Santa Claus is an obese man with an over-sized red robe, overgrown beard, and a heavy knapsack on his back, but what if the real Santa Claus wears green with heavy boots instead?

These Santa Claus did more than just give gifts but hope. They are soldiers-the valiant 42nd Infantry- Tagapagtanggol Battalion who carried food and water for the typhoon victims on foot in Brgy. Canupong, Gutalac,Zamboanga del Norte. They braved through the treacherous roads of mud and dirt just to get to the victims last December 23.

According to the weather news by Rappler, Vinta (international name Tembin) made its landfall in Davao Oriental last Friday, December 22 by 1:45am. The tropical depression was reported to have maximum winds of 60 km/h and gustiness of up to 90km/h. It placed Southern Palawan, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboang Sibugay in Signal Number 1.

PAGA-ASA reported that it left the Philippine Area of Responsibility by Christmas eve, December 24.

The aftermath of the typhoon left many people to clean up the mess after the flooding. But with the undying Filipino resilience, these soldiers risked through perilous slopes to bring supplies in Brgy. Canupong.

Though Christmas may look different now and the air may seem a little bit colder, these soldiers are bringing home that despite the storm, people could still celebrate Christmas. These soldiers are models of hope and redemption, the silver lining after the rain.

These Santa Claus soldiers risked their safety, set aside their Christmas preparations, and interrupted their holiday to make sure that typhoon victims could still celebrate Christmas with full stomachs even if they are not in their homes.

Heroism like this just goes to show that the stereotypical Santa Claus is not always red because Santa Claus could be a soldier too.

A Story by Mizzy Chinggay

Photo credit to Capt. Macario of 42 Infantry Battalion

42nd Infantry Battalion’s Mother unit is the 9th Infantry “SPEAR” Division based in Bicol Region. With the battalions deployment in Mindanao, 1st Infantry “TAbAK” Division took command of the unit.

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The Facebook page reports: For offering “the greatest sacrifice of giving his life to a fellow comrade,” an Army Scout Ranger officer is set to be posthumously conferred the prestigious Medal of Valor – the nation’s highest military honor – during the anniversary ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

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The sun shines after the storm as terrorists fall. After almost five months of breathless waiting, the final verdict comes to our side.

Lt. Gen. Rolly Bautista, Commanding General of the Philippine Army said: “ What happened to Marawi has taught us a lot of lessons on unity, courage and bravery. Now is the time to move forward. Instead of pointing fingers to somebody else’s failure and blur our vision for a brighter tomorrow, let us set our eyes on the glittering rays of triumph that is clearly seen on the horizon.”

Marawi could have been enslaved into the hands of terrorists if the leaders were afraid to face the eminent threats. Yet, their undying support all the way through painstaking battles against the terrorists was a decisive point to hold on to both military and civilian populace.

“They lamented, cried, and moved with compassion in seeing the devastations and sufferings of their people. But deep inside, their sparkling hope bested on the unwavering dedication of their servant soldiers who are willing to sacrifice and rally behind their struggle,” Lt. Gen. Bautista said.

While our fighting soldiers were tested and tried in a fiery furnace with seeming uncertainty, they came up victorious in the end, despite the fact they bleed and are deeply wounded.

Now is the time for healing and rising up for a new beginning.

To demonstrate their solidarity and strong commitment to end violent extremism and to avoid the same crisis in the future, various community leaders in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur province declared support for the government’s initiatives in sustaining efforts to rehabilitate the war-torn city and counter radicalization among the youth.

The provincial government including mayors of Lanao del Sur, confederation of sultanates, council of imams and ulama, and academe, business and professional services sector immediately convened on October 17, 2017 at the provincial capitol after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s declaration of Marawi City liberation.

The complicated process of rebuilding Marawi and sustainment of peace in the area were discussed during the event with panel members: National Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardi Año, Presidential Communication Operations Office Sec. Martin Andanar, National Defense Sec. Cesar Yano, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council chairman Eduardo del Rosario, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers and Special Concerns Sec. Abdullah Mamao, Lanao del Sur Gov. Bedjoria Alonto-Adiong, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hatamanulama’s, and Marawi City Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra.

Also present during the forum were AFP Western Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez and Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division Commander Brig. Gen. Roseller Murillo.

“Drawing inspiration from the debris of reasons to let go of the horrible nightmare of terror, the brighter future of Marawi and its people lies ahead. Your soldiers and the people of Marawi can one day attest to our children that indeed Marawi was liberated from the bondage of terrorists because of unity, courage and bravery,” Lt. Gen. Bautista said.

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Brigadier General Roseller Guanzon Murillo, AFP assumed office as the Commander of the 1st Infantry (TABAK) Division, Philippine Army, on October 8, 2017, replacing Maj. Gen. Rolando Joselito Dizon Bautista, who assumed office as Commanding General, Philippine Army. Since its establishment on May 5, 1936, Brig. Gen. Murillo now becomes the 44th Commander among the lineage of noble Officers to lead the unit tasked to serve the communities and protect the land in its Area of Responsibility in Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao Province and Misamis Oriental.

The new 1st Division Commander hails from the province of Parang Maguindanao, Cotabato City and is a member of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1986. He is happily married to Dra. Crissal – Lyn Corpus Murillo and is blessed with two children.

He took various Civilian and Military schoolings here and abroad including: Bachelor of Arts in Ateneo De Davao University in 1972, BS Civil Engineering at Notre Dame University in 1981, Masters of Science in Information Technology in University of South Wales, Australia in 2001; Regimental officer Advance Course Infantry at School of Infantry, Australia in 1995; UN Demining for Peacekeepers in Linton Army at Camp Palmerston, New Zealand in 1997; Principle of National Resilience Asean Region, Jacarta, Indonesia in 1997; Strategic Environment Assessment Seminar/Workshop at the national Defense College of the Philippines in 2009. And General Program of Instructions on UN Peacekeeping Operations Commanders Course at Bangladesh in 2012 and Senior Executive Course on National Security NDCP, DND in 2014.

His previous assignments speak well of his leadership by example, excellent performance and remarkable influence, which put him in various sensitive key positions as Chief special Studies Division GHQ AFP; Chief Operation Research Branch GHQ, AFP; Chief Program Support Division OJ9; Deputy Commander and Training Officer of Task Force Davao 4ID, PA; Assistant Chief of Staff for Intel G2, Officer In Charge G3 at 7ID, PA, Executive Officer 602nd BDE, 6ID, PA; Executive Officer OG5, PA; Deputy G8, PA; Chief of Staff 6ID, PA; commandeer 103BDE, 1ID, PA; and Senior Military Assistance to SND, DND.

A recipient of a long list of rightfully earned awards and commendations, the highest of which is the Distinguished Service Star that sets the bar high for all Tabak Troopers to emulate.

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The Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division is symbolized by a red equilateral triangle with a replica of white Tabak, a traditional native Filipino blade weapon, at the center of three white stars located at each corner of the triangle.

Resembling an inverted pyramid, the red triangle stands for the Division’s inner strength that reigns supreme over a vast territory. The inverted red triangle represents selfless offering to our country from a humble individual towards the greater communities being served. Every Tabak Trooper who wears this logo selflessly serves the community with utmost humility.

An indigenous weapon used by our forefathers to defend themselves against foreign invaders, the Tabak stands for the Division’s determination to defend the country’s sovereignty. It points upward to signify the Division’s combat readiness to fight all forces that may threaten our freedom and independence.

The three stars represent the three main islands of the country where the officers and men of the Division come from.

The Red color stands for act of courage and bravery with which the Tabak Troopers are noted for.

The White color stands for purity, the lofty ideas, and dedication for peace.

“The enduring Tabak logo is a symbol of our commitment in humbly fulfilling our mandate as servants of the people and protectors of our land,” said Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division.

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(Message of Brig. Gen. Rolly Bautista, Commander of Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division/Joint Task Force Marawi during the Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization Forum of the Asia Foundation at Mindanao State University Main Campus, Marawi City on August 25, 2017)

Our peace building activities and engagements with communities are aimed at increasing our understanding and awareness of the importance of countering violent extremism.

Violent extremism or radicalization leads to terrorism and the most vulnerable sector is the youth. We have uncovered the extent of radical indoctrination among young Filipinos recruits in the ongoing Marawi crisis where young people formed the main forces of the ISIS-inspired Maute/Abu Sayaff terrorist groups.

The major hindrances toward achieving peace are the gaps between our faith our cultures, economic and social status and even power and politics. These result to a polarized or divided society and readily exploited by terrorist organizations, highlighting religious narratives for their own purposes.

We are clear on the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division/Joint Task Force Marawi’s strategy on Civil-Military Operations (CMO) of the need to establish proactive programs addressing the issues of violent extremism and radicalization.

Even before the Marawi crisis, we have conducted initiatives to empower our troops to build necessary knowledge and skills in reaching out to the community and bringing your soldiers closer to the people we serve

Various seminars and trainings were conducted including Stakeholder Engagement Seminars and Harnessing Community Support Trainings for our troops.

We also designed methodologies in facilitating collaboration with community leaders and stakeholders to be our partners in conducting peace building undertakings.

Our Digital Media Management Training Series provided our troops a set of trainings for digital product development and organizing online initiatives including website content development and social media management.

Our Radio Broadcasting Training equipped our troops in conducting radio programs for information dissemination. These trainings prepared our troops for efficient key leader engagements for building relationships with government and business leaders for community defense enhancements.

Your Army participated in the launching of the Negosyo Center for Lanao del Sur here in Marawi City a few days before the crisis.

During the crisis, we concurrently conduct peace building and psychosocial initiatives. These are included in the series of activities to establish peaceful communities and prevent the recurrence of violence.

Our youth leadership empowerment initiatives encourage the youth to take an active role in peace building activities in their communities.

The delivery of our CMO programs ensures the successful implementation of humanitarian missions including relief operations, community engagements and psychosocial activities to affected communities.

Even after this crisis, we will continue our peace building and psychosocial initiatives to sustain CMO activities to build long-lasting peaceful communities.

When you combine hard power and soft power, it becomes smart power. We intend to maintain strong support and partnerships in rehabilitating Marawi with the people we serve and with the community we serve.

Narito po kami upang kayo ay paglingkuran at protektahan.

Kasama po kayo, ang ating pagkakaisa ay maghahatid sa atin tungo sa pagbangon muli ng Marawi.

Maraming salamat at mabuhay ang ating bayan!

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Dakila at walang hanggan naming Diyos, ang pag-asa ng lahat ng nilikha at ang bukal ng kapayapaan sa sanlibutan, kinikinilala namin na ikaw ang Diyos na makapangyarihan. Ang aming Ama na lumilingap sa kanyang mga anak sa mga panahong wala kaming masilungan at walang maintindihan sa mga nagaganap sa aming buhay.

Haplusin mo po kami o Diyos at payapain ang aming kalooban sa mga nangyayari sa aming bayan lalo na ang kaguluhang naghahari sa Marawi, Lanao del Sur at sa buong lupain sa Mindanao.

Patuloy po ninyong patatagin ang Hukbong Sandatahan ng Pilipinas sa pagpapanatili ng kaayusan, kaligtasan at kapayapaan sa aming bayan at panatilihing matibay na tanggulan ng mamamayan sa oras ng krisis, digmaan at rebelyong namamayani sa aming lipunan.

Gabayan po ninyo at ingatan ang aming mga kapatid na sundalo na lumalaban sa puwersa ng teroristang naghahasik ng gulo at kumikitil ng buhay ng mga inosente naming kababayan. Palakasin po ninyo ang kanilang loob at patatagin ang kanilang pagtitiwala sa Iyo. Ipag-adya mo po sila sa kapahamakan at hayaang makabalik sa kanilang pamilyang naghihintay. Idinadalngin din po naming ang mabilisang paggaling ng aming mga kapatid na sugatan sa labanan.

Inilalapit naming sa iyo o Dakilang Diyos, ang katahimikan ng mga kaluluwa ng aming mga kapatid na nasawi sa labanan, sundalo man o sibiliyan, nawa sa piling mo ay makasumpong sila ng walang hanggang kaahingahan at tunay na kapayapaan.

Hinihiling din naming Mapagkalingang Ama, na yakapin mo ang aming mga kababayan naiipit sa digmaan, maging muslim man o kristiyano man. Aliw upang sa lungkot at hirap ay makaalpas, at pag asa sa gitna ng panlulumo at pagwasak.

Idinadalangin namin mahabaging Diyos na umiral nawa ang batas sa Mindanao upang makamit namin ang tunay na diwa ng kapayapaan na siyang hangarin ng aming Panginoong Hesukristo bilang prinsepe ng kapayapaan. Amen.

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(Delivered on August 5, 2017 at “Sambatan” Forum at MSU-IIT, Iligan City)

Personally I would like to acknowledge and thank the organizers of this forum the Ranao Council, MSU-IIT, and PNP. In this is very important occasion, I am very grateful to be here in front of you speaking and representing the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The military’s role in the Marawi crisis is very crucial. We are here for you para ibangon muli natin ang Marawi City.

Since day one of the Marawi crisis, we have been there and we were able to immediately convene the Provincial Crisis Committee. The Lanao Rescue Team was formed and we had a dialogue in the first week.

As the G7 of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division of the Philippine Army, we have grand plans for Lanao del Sur and Marawi even before the crisis, especially on peace education and empowering the youth. We were developing a holistic program for the youth sector in coordination with various sectors.

With Martial Law in effect, we have been emphasizing the role of the LGUs and the military have been involved in series of engagements with government officials and traditional leaders.

Recognizing that today’s youth will be the next generation leaders, we are here today for a dialogue of shaping the Maranao community after the crisis. When it is time for us to go, who will take care of Marawi? Who will take care of its heritage and culture? We should show our young generation how it is to be brave and united.

Throughout history, Marawi is known for bravery and unity. With the ongoing crisis, we should be brave to defeat false ISIS ideologies perpetrated by the Maute terrorist group. These false ideologies are bent to destroy our rich cultural heritage. Your participation in this activity symbolizes your bravery in facing challenges. Is unity just about coming together for a dialogue? Unity is something bigger than us, internalized in our hearts and minds, enveloping our thoughts and understanding.

Just like you, your soldiers are also human. We are also evacuees from far places. We immediately went to Marawi when the crisis broke out and it also took time for us to get the things we need. Your soldiers also have families waiting at home. As much as you want to go back home, your soldiers also want to go back to their families.

With your help and support, your Armed Forces will be stronger in accomplishing its mission of serving and protecting you.

Let us help each other and let us all be brave and united until the end of this crisis.

Thank you vey much.

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