Feature: Fire, fight and faith: A soldier’s verve
By Venus L. Garcia
BUTUAN CITY, Jan. 11 (PIA) – Behind the audacity, vigor and skillful tactics of a soldier is a habit of mind and heart to exude faith as evinced in his kindness and love for his fellowmen and the Supreme Being.
For Lieutenant Colonel Rey Pasco, commanding officer of the 4th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army, “being a uniformed personnel serving the government doesn’t imply a privilege you can claim, but a duty you must perform. There’s no other option than to uphold the ethical and legal standards in the execution of tasks and fulfillment of missions.”
It means standing your ground and acting on it to support the interests of the republic and its citizens and ensuring local and national security, enunciated Pasco. “We often hovered between life and death situations and that entails extraordinary bravery and moral courage to surpass the challenges. When we pledged for genuine public service, we mean carrying out our job wholeheartedly even by risking our lives for others,” he added.
The reward of valor
Keeping the confidence in his ability to perform well under the difficult and demanding conditions of battle, LTC Pasco and his comrades in the armed service exemplified an indomitable spirit worthy of emulation.
With his vast experience in the field of combat operations, LTC Pasco courageously spearheaded his troops in maneuvering and assaulting enemy position amidst heavy hostile fires. This led him to receive a gold cross medal for his conspicuous courage and gallantry in action during an encounter against more or less fifteen dissident terrorists at Sitio Bagang, Brgy. Kamuayan, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental in October 1998.
Another gold cross medal was accorded to him on July 2000 for his combat skills, bravery, teamwork and timely execution of operation plan during an encounter against more or less 230 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels at Balo-i, Lanao del Norte. He and his cohorts defended the area through face-to-face combat fighting with the strong first line of defense of the enemy.
“As I left the tour of duty for taking actions to defeat insurgency, I sit in relief for I managed to hurdle and undertake what I am called on to do. Nothing feels exhausting when you are passionate about the profession you pursue,” underscored Pasco.
A man of military bearing with a tenacity of legendary warriors, a bronze cross medal was awarded to him in March 2002 for possessing the highest degree of professionalism and exceptional courage in the face of danger. He bravely and actively participated and supervised in the conduct of special intelligence operations resulting to the successful neutralization and apprehension of Muhammad Kiram, the local contact of arrested Indonesian national Fathur Rohman Al-Ghozi also known as Abu Saad, a member of an international organization called Jammal Islameah, an Islamic Terrorist Group who has link with the Al-Queda terrorist group.
Imbued with the high sense of professionalism and dedication to duty, he and his comrades effectively carried out their assigned tasks by exerting maximum efforts to ensure the accomplishment of the mission. The extraordinary traits, tailored with proper intelligence training and background displayed, the coordinated efforts and utmost enthusiasm coupled with perseverance, significantly contributed to the success of the operation. This laudable achievement has brought credit not only for himself and the group but for the entire Philippine Army.
The fight for peace progresses and this doesn’t stop him from moving ahead. In March 2006, Pasco was further awarded with a bronze cross medal award for acts of heroism involving risk of life while serving as the intelligence officer/intelligence operative of the 401st brigade, 4th Infantry Division. It eventually yielded positive results during the conduct of combat operations at Nasipit and Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
For those individuals whose heroism, noble and substantive acts that were never known to many, they deserve to earn homage for being in the line of unsung heroes who unconditionally take charge on matters with commitment and conviction.
The sacred devotion
The stern discipline reflects a stiff soldier always ready to conquer an opponent amidst danger and toil.
In almost half a golden year of blitz and aggressive fire and fight maneuvers to defeat the enemy and those who are in armed resistance against the government, LTC Pasco never omit his spiritual and moral obligation which he ought to perform not only as a uniformed official in service but as a person of holistic human portrayal.
“It is vital to recognize the authority of Christ. I wrestled all my life under unpredictable instances despite proficiency in my bailiwicks. And in seeking for divine protection and guidance, I opted to be ruled by His command and power over men,” modestly admitted Pasco.
He pointed out further the unseen heroic deeds and astounding sacrifices of soldiers, the enormous costs to personal safety of their own lives and their families, the coping measures from anguish of leaving their loved ones behind, and the mixed emotions of confronting the probability of getting injured or even death. “With my fellow armies, we were able to hurdle all these according to our faith, individual convictions, and sacred devotion to duty and the Almighty,” he said.
Rededicating army’s spiritual home
Following the zest and motivation to lead and function as a dedicated serviceman comes the transcendence that creates more meaningful impact.
The genuine camaraderie displayed by Rev. Fr. Joshue Cadorna of the Order of Discalced Augustinians (OAD) as the spiritual mentor of LTC Pasco has truly inspired him to take a forward stride in pursuing warfare in a sphere different from that of the battlefield. This is when the circle of Christian armies at the 4th Civil Military Operations Battalion proceeded in combined action for the rehabilitation of the brigade chapel at the 4ID Advance Command Post, Camp Bancasi.
It was three decades ago, September 7, 1986 to be exact, when the construction of the brigade chapel started and was inaugurated under the then command of Col. Renato Palma.
With the generous help of the civilian friends, devotees and close allies in public service such as the Philippine Information Agency Caraga team led by regional director Abner Caga, the Beata Virgine del Santo Rosario (Our Lady of the Holy Rosary) Chapel was successfully renovated on September 1, 2016 and a rededication was held on October 30, 2016.
It was graced by 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army commander Major General Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. and other officials. “Such accomplishment is a manifestation that wonderful things can be achieved through teamwork and bayanihan,” underscored Madrigal.
The bayanihan, as a thrust of Philippine Army’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP), encaptulates the idea of cooperation in order to achieve real change and development. “Truly, the spirit of bayanihan is alive in Caraga,” stated Madrigal.
Meanwhile, Fr. Cadorna, delegated chaplain and prior of the OAD led the blessing of the brigade chapel. “I am really grateful for the dedicated heart of Lt. Col. Pasco and his troops in the realization of this project. Everything was made possible through the generous support from the private individuals and military friends of the brigade,” stressed Fr. Cadorna.
He also said that “more than the ideal execution of the game plan among the cream of chivalrous soldiers, the spiritual nurturance should also be given utmost priority in order to spell a proper disposition and a perfect conditioning of mind, body and soul.”
The drive for volunteerism
Built inside a 48-hectare vicinity utilized by the Philippine Army in Brgy. Bancasi, this city, the Beata Virgine del Santo Rosario Chapel erects beautifully and sturdily, showing how the infatigable hands of the people who voluntarily spent their time and efforts for the completion of the project.
Apart from the benevolence of persons who provided the materials needed for he renovation, the chapel now captures the minimalistic element of its design that suits the serene environment through the artistic contribution of local artists, namely, Ronald Rudinas and Chito Alegre.
Inspired also by the kindness of heart and humility, Antolin Lara Adlawan, together with other volunteers, offered in all sincerity their services by physically doing the construction works.
The involvement of Adlawan tells an inspiring story of a wealthy and wise man who enjoys the perks of life until he unpleasantly experienced a turnaround of his fortunes.
“Life for me was so easy then as I gamble but I have to be candid with this. Money is a very good servant but a very bad master. When money speaks, everybody listens. Until such time, I lost my faith and discredit my Creator,” bluntly admitted Adlawan.
Confronted with a dilemma of almost losing a child for battling a cancer illness, Adlawan gradually regain his divine belief and was back on his feet, creating a sense of worthiness and self-esteem. He became known for his sacrificial commitment by being literally nailed on the cross and went walking under the scorching heat of the sun for seven months following the route from Agusan del Norte in Mindanao to Manila metropolis.
That’s when his total transformation began. He engages himself in evangelizing as a Catholic faith defender (CFD). Out from the natural brilliance of his mind and learned experiences, he’s able to live a renewed life.
“In the eyes of a flying eagle, there is no difference between an islet and a continent. Now, I prefer a simple but productive life serving the community and the church. To be successful in life, you must have the four Ds – desire (to serve), devotion, determination and discipline to achieve fulfillment in life,” expressed Adlawan.
There are many fecets of life where an individual can reveal his full potentials. Not only does it propel volunteerism or motivate others, but also permeate positivity and provide wisdom and enlightenment. Hence, a fully geared up soldier knows dominion over his opponent and keeps a dosage of faith and prayer. (VLG/PIA-Caraga)
BuB women recipients embrace entrepreneurial mindset
By Susil D. Ragas
SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Jan. 11 (PIA) – The Sta. Fe Women Association in Barangay Sta. Fe, General Luna of Siargao Island embraced an entrepreneurial mindset through Cocosugar Production under the Start Your Own Micro Enterprise Project which was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Sta. Fe Women Association is composed of 30 active women members and is a recipient of 2014 Bottom-Up-Budgeting (BuB) Program implemented by the local government unit of General Luna and funded by DTI in the amount of P500,000.
According to Trade and Industry Development Specialist Ninebeth A. Romo-Balighot BuB is a poverty reduction program of the government that aims to improve and uplift the quality of life of every beneficiary by stimulating economic activities that would generate additional household income.
She said that through the said program, the association was given an opportunity to start a business venture that would discover their potential of being entrepreneurs.
“They already participated at the DTI Negosyo Konsyumer ATBP Event on November 7-10, 2016 held at the Almont Inland Resort and Robinsons Place in Butuan City and attended trainings and seminars which provide them additional knowledge beneficial to their business,” Balighot said.
Balighot said the members of the association also undergo a packaging and labeling training for the packaging design of their product in preparation for their full operation on the first quarter of 2017.
Balighot further said that cocosugar business is identified as viable project by the association considering the raw material for the production is abundant in their area and the availability of the ready markets in the locality especially the existence of resorts owned and operated by locals and foreigners is also a big factor considered for the establishment of the said project.
“The whole island of Siargao is the initial target market of their cocosugar product, particularly the muninicipality of General Luna. As an island being internationally famous and known to be the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, increasing arrivals of both local and foreign tourists is expected. So, it's an advantage since the increasing number of buyers would mean greater opportunity to promote their products,” Balighot added. (DTI-SDN/PIA-Surigao del Norte)
125 DAR-assisted ARBOs undergo assessment
By Daryll M. Tumbaga
SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Jan. 11 (PIA) - A total of 125 agrarian reform beneficiaries organizations (ARBOs) in both the provinces of Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands subjected themselves to an Information Technology-enabled Maturity Assessment (ITeMA) conducted by the provincial lead enumerators (PLEs) of the provincial office of the Department of Agrarian Reform in Surigao del Norte (DAR-SDN) on November 7 to December 8, 2016.
Four ITeMA PLEs of DAR-SDN were trained and tasked to spearhead the said assessment to the DAR-assisted ARBOs of which 56 were from Surigao del Norte and 69 from the Dinagat Islands.
The said assessment covered the organizations' operations and activities from January to December 2015.
The ARBOs were assessed under five major indicators namely, 1) organizational management, 2) business enterprises and social services, 3) resource and financial management, 4) alliance building, and 5) social and environment responsibility.
According to Ms. Vergenia N. Canada, manager of Mary Sampaguita Auto-Savings Agra Multi-purpose Cooperative of San Jose, Dinagat Islands, “the ITEMA is very useful for us because it identified our strengths but most importantly spotted our weaknesses that would definitely help us in improving our organizational operations and activities”.
On the other hand, Sabina C. Honor, chairperson of Pagao Farmers Association of Sitio Pagao, Brgy. Campo in Bacuag, Surigao del Norte was happy that their association was able to undergo the assessment. “The ITEMA made us open our eyes that there are lots of work to be done in order for our organization to stand on its own feet basing on the assessed criteria. Especially that we have plans of making this association into a cooperative the soonest. The ITEMA has given us tips on how to become a good performing organization in the next years to come," said Honor.
The ITeMA for ARBOs seeks to come up with comprehensive and realistic results of assessing the levels of maturity of the DAR-assisted ARBOs, to bring to fore the development gaps or the interventions yet to be provided, and to create a database of DAR-assisted ARBOs from which updated and comprehensive ARBO profiles can be readily generated. (DAR-SDN/PIA-Surigao del Norte)