Good Soldier

I have a confession to make: I am a daughter of a good soldier. It may sound absurd for others who have completely lost their faith to our military men in the Philippines due to the issues our nation has recently faced, but I’d stood my ground and say it loud and proud.

I am a daughter of a good soldier.

Yes. Good soldiers still exist—in the Armed Forces and in our everyday lives. They may not wear their badges, camouflage jackets, or you could’ve failed to notice them but they’re just everywhere.

Just like in my case, my father is one good soldier—who I still get to see every single day and I am so grateful that God allowed me to reunite with this brave and loving soul.

I still remember that moment when I asked him about his profession. It was a sunny day in September, contrary to the rainy days that we often experience during that month in the Philippines.

I asked him, “Dad, why did you choose to become a soldier? I don’t even know what makes you happy being one.”

Because what is happiness if your own life is at stake on the frontlines of war and terrorism? You come face to face with danger without knowing if you still have a future with your family and loved ones.

My Dad served more than 30 years in the army. He is such a loving man but he’s quite reserved. Sometimes I think that he is loyal to a fault because he still keeps his silence even to us, his own family, even after his retirement from service.

You know that old military adage? “What you see, what you hear, when you leave, leave it here.”

Sometimes I wonder why he would still practice that.

Going back to the question, it suddenly dawned on me because in that moment, I was struggling to stay in my job. I was seeking for some reassurance or some encouragement from him—probably his secret to staying in one job for over 30 years.

Funny how my Dad was able to keep his loyalty for so long when I’m only at my first year in this job and I was already giving up. I wished I had inherited his sense of trust and loyalty.

Shame on me. I am a daughter of a good soldier and yet I can’t even find the guts to endure the pain and keep one job. I don’t even know if what I was doing will ever make me happy. So out of curiosity, I decided to squeeze in some wisdom from this golden boy in my life.

We were driving somewhere for another adventure so it took a couple of minutes before he answered. That’s also one of the best qualities I admire about him—focus. If he could have such focus like a sniper, I, on the other hand, can be easily distracted. But I tell you, I am equally observant and alert.

My siblings were also in the car. We were all silent and waiting for his response because it was one of the questions we have learned to bury inside us. My father was quite domineering as he was raised that way, to become an alpha male, so there were things we sometimes choose not to question about him.

We didn’t expect much also because this was one of those “talks” we normally have in the family. As his precious daughters, maybe it was okay with him to let his guard down for us. Then, finally, his reply came.

“What are you talking about?” Defense. “For me, it is the noblest job on earth. Having to serve people, save them, and protect them while risking all that you have…you are a soldier and a hero at the same time. That’s more than any human can do for humanity.” Attack.

My jaw dropped. People so rarely talk about compassion these days that I hardly believed at what I just heard.

That’s my boy! I mentally threw a fist in the air. Here he goes again, my ever-loving Dad, with a heart of gold, being the amazing man that he is.

Although, I’m sure my Dad is not the only one who holds this motivation and intention for the common good. I hope every soldier thinks this way.

For that, I offer my respect to all military men who serve the country with integrity. As I open my palm firmly and put my fingertips against the temple of my head, I will keep these in mind: the pain and fatigue you have endured; the courage you have built inside your walls; the family you have left behind for your love of the country; the peace you have prayed hard for; the people you have protected and saved as you sacrifice your lives; these, I will never forget, as I salute you.

I know my Dad is not alone. There are still soldiers who find happiness in serving the country with audacity and gallantry. I just hope that just like my Dad, these military men would survive war and terrorism to be with their family. It is not yet too late. Anyone can dream.

One of the best realizations I have in life is that, when my Dad left the service, it was the best time of our lives. Back then when he retired from the service, I felt that there’s nothing more blissful for a child like me than knowing that your father’s time is yours forever. The happy days he had at work, for being a soldier who is loyal to a fault, may have ended, but he would be with the people he had fought hard to live for.

He is such a selfless man. Sometimes I couldn’t even comprehend how he had the courage to become a soldier yet he doesn’t have the guts to see me, his daughter, get hurt, let alone allow me to have a scratch on my skin.

As much as I hate to admit it, soldiers are heroes, heroes do bleed, and they’re mortals, too. The inevitable could happen. He has his own vulnerabilities as well. But I am a daughter of a good soldier, and as his daughter, I would try to fall behind his steps and follow his acts of bravery—protect him and love him in every way that I could.

Whatever challenges I’ve yet to face, even if I failed to keep a job for 30 years, I’d treasure the things he said to me that day. I will keep listening to his voice in my head, while forever being grateful that even though my father was a soldier, I was given a chance to experience his selfless love. God didn’t only give him one day to live; he blessed my father with the strength to survive the war and this life, that deep down, he wanted to live with fearless joy and love for his family.

 

Published on the Philippine Daily Inquirer Young Blood column on June 13, 2017.

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