“Serving the people, securing the land.”
Growing up as the daughter of a military soldier, I have witnessed how the men in uniform pledge and uphold their commitment to the country. We often see them mounting 10-wheeler trucks, wearing camouflage uniforms, and carrying protective gears. Sometimes, jogging in groups, wearing uniform athletic attires, and exhaustingly chanting verses that we can’t clearly catch. We also hear different stories about them; how they fight enemy lines where the recent battlefields are, and what they do in cases of ambush and extreme casualties. How do they get to survive hours without eating, drinking, and sleeping? Although no two soldiers have the same experiences and journey in the patriotic service, come to think of it, who are they really fighting for?
Dhan Ryan Bayot, a 24-year-old native from Zamboanga Sibugay, is a Private First Class. He is the son of Sgt. Larry Bayot of the 1st Infantry Battalion and was also one of the Maute fighters who were sent to lash out the militants linked to the Islamic terrorist group that attacked Marawi city, Southern Philippines last May 2017. He was assigned to one of the detachments of the 51st Infantry Battalion located at Barangay Lilod in Marawi. The detachment was positioned there in addition to the security provided for a government official’s house, near the area where PFC Ryan was stationed.
The team where Bayot belonged to was attacked on the second day of the Marawi siege. It was said that some of the private security men and bodyguards of the mayor ‘helped’ the Maute terrorists to assault Bayot’s team and get inside the guarded house. They radioed for backup and reinforcement, but it was too late because the only way to get to their position is to go through the passage full of enemies. Hours later, the PFC’s five comrades were already dead, leaving him alone in his area. He again tried to contact their commanding officer, but instead of asking for reinforcement, he startled the rescue team with this request:
The young soldier already knew that the attackers were about to capture him, but he would rather take them all down before they could get to him. Even if he did not make his famous request, he probably would have been decapitated and tortured by the Maute group. His remains were retrieved by none other than his very own father, Sgt. Bayot. The young soldier’s face was barely recognizable. Slashes were found around his neck. The older Bayot understood how hard it was for the rescue team to mount backup through the terrain because it took four units for them to finally get to the area.
The field of military service is a whole lot different in terms of courage, heroism, and patriotism. Some join because of inspiration. Others join because of great need. But no matter what their reasons are, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has only one duty and that is to serve the people and secure the land. They are the people who are more than willing to be part of such operations in search for rebels and terrorists, and sleep in mosquito-infested jungles. They endure eating canned goods, dried fish, and other lightly packed food for days, sometimes months. These are also the people who get very little pay. The extra pay that they receive for combat operations is laughable. And just like the rest of us, they are also the people who sometimes miss the birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, celebrations, and other important occasions of their loved ones. All these are sacrificed for one’s territorial responsibility toward our dear motherland.
Indeed, the men and women in uniform deserve all the support and respect that they can get. Heroism, for a soldier, is a “do or die but never question why” mindset. It is not just about the person who wins or loses. It is about the one who protects; someone who truly serves because the Filipino people are worth fighting for.
Photos courtesy of https://www.army.mil.ph and https://www.elitereaders.com