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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Cito’s Plaint –
Our Lament?


 “Once again we count the number of the fallen soldiers in Basilan and Sulu. Once again the AFP display casket upon casket of their dead comrades in arms. Once again our Armed Forces privately mourn their great loss because once again, We the Filipino people fail to be part of their suffering.


“It is a great irony that so many people in media and the public in general could be so impressed with Cory’s 4 honor guards who simply stood at attention for 8 hours, yet hardly any serious recognition or tribute was ever expressed for the 26 soldiers who died in battle last week or for the same number and more, that died last year.

“The major TV and cable channels as well as radio stations gave uninterrupted coverage for the Senate investigation on infomercials and political advertising. So much emphasis was given to the “face off” between Senator Loren Legarda and Vice President Noli de Castro, which was nothing more than two hissing cats.


“Twenty-six soldiers died, 30 Abu Sayyaf members were killed. Was 56 dead bodies not enough to merit full coverage for broadcast media who are not excited when there is less than a handful of casualties? Is it more newsworthy to watch the verbal intramurals and public humiliation that is produced within the senate walls in aid of politics?

“Why can’t our cameras show the somber silent honor given to the brave? Why can’t we simply let the moment speak of our grief, our loss, their courage and our commitment to carry on?

“There were so many widows, comrades in tears in Zamboanga. There was even the dramatic scene of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo embracing young widows and orphan daughters. Yet somehow, it did not merit continuing or regular coverage by media. In fact the battle and the multiple body count only merited a number 3 spot in terms of headlines.

“Are some media organizations afraid of giving Gloria Arroyo any sort of break from the tempest of criticisms, that they would turn a blind eye to the human tragedy that befalls our nation and its soldiers? Are entertainment news, gossip and political vendetta more important than focusing on human loss and the need for national anguish?


“Our dead soldiers did not lose the battle, in fact they achieved a crucial victory over terrorists, and exposed beyond doubt, the treachery and deceit of the MILF whose members were also killed in a battle that they were not suppose (sic) to be part of. So in real terms last weeks (sic) casualties are genuine “heroes” who fought and died in battle.

“But why have we treated them like yesterday’s news? Why are we not in mourning?

“Why has no one thought of holding a funeral parade from Baclaran to Monumento and back? At the very least, we can remind Filipinos, that their soldiers have been fighting a bloody battle against terrorism and have been paying with their lives.

“Isn’t it about time that we gave a very public and a nationwide tribute to our real modern day heroes?

“If we can call OFWs as our modern day heroes for their personal sacrifices as well as their monetary remittances, why can’t we give the same consistent recognition to soldiers whose families suffer the permanent sacrifice of losing their father, husband, or son?

“How can we call upon our soldiers to always protect the rights and the interest of the citizenry and the constitution if we cannot even make the time or effort to recognize their greatest sacrifices?

“For the longest time, we have allowed the enemies of the state, the critics of different administrations and the ghost of Martial law days to stain or destroy the relationship that should be, between the citizens and their soldiers. We have allowed the sins and abuse of a few officials to come in between a better understanding among soldiers and civilians.


“When EDSA I took place, many Filipinos did not know if the Filipino Soldier would know his duty and would do his job. Yet the Filipino Soldier defended the constitution and democracy. The Filipino Soldier defended the Filipino people.

“In succeeding attempts to grab power or terrorize the nation, the Filipino Soldier has always done his duty. Isn’t it about time that we the Filipino people express our gratitude, our appreciation and even our condolences?


“On the last Monday of August we regularly observe National Heroes Day, We commemorate the Cry of Pugad Lawin, we remember Andres Bonifacio, yet have we ever held a Parade like we gave Ninoy and Cory for OUR soldiers? Have we paraded them up or down Ayala in a shower of confetti? Have we marched hand in hand with them in Luneta not to display their marching skills but to shower them with our applause, our prayers and our praise?

“How can our Soldiers, our Police and even our firemen be honorable, if we ourselves don’t give them the honor and a reason to value honor and what is honorable?

“There is still time and I am certain that many Filipinos would proudly take part in either a funeral cortege for the soldiers who were “Unknown” to them, or join in a “Parade for Heroes”.

“Personally, I would stage a “symbolic” funeral parade for the many fallen soldiers from the various services of the AFP and the PNP and simply drive from Villamor Air base out to EDSA pass through Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame, go through Quezon Memorial Circle, UP, C5 and end at Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“Somehow only a funeral procession awakens the compassion and the appreciation for life among Filipinos. See you at the Parade?”


Having read the foregoing, Cito Beltran’s opinion piece – They might as well have been ‘unknown soldiers’ – that we have quoted verbatim [1], you will understand why we have departed from the basic format of WTW [2], only the third time in 34 issues that we have done so. [3]. 

This article appeared on our radar screen when it was posted to the Academy Cavaliers’ Forum, a mailgroup of PMA alumni on the Internet. [4]. Our grateful acknowledgement, therefore, goes to Commander Carlo V. Legasca, Philippine Navy, for that posting.

The instant we finished reading it – and reading it some more – we knew exactly what to do with it.


Beltran’s plaint, to our thinking, could be the lament of those who are wearing or who have worn the uniform, something we could not just ignore.

Ceding the whole space of this column for something like this, sharing it in its entirety with our readers is the very least we could do. We regret we can’t do more.


Thank you very much, Cito Beltran. We salute you.

Our fondest hope is that your plea, “See you at the Parade,” is not wishful thinking. Come Monday, you would know.


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-34
makati, philippines

[1]   One exception: the ‘ooOoo’ separating sections of paragraph, we have supplied here, following WTW format, basically for purposes of emphasis; we hope Cito Beltran won’t mind this.

[2]   In case our readers haven’t noticed, each weekly issue of WTW conforms to this basic format:  a commentary or “segment” on a significant development chosen for that week, at least one each for: the world or humanity at large, the US, the Philippines – the country as a whole, the Armed Forces and the Philippine Military Academy and its alumni; some personal allusions; and a center-“piece,” the main commentary or segment, which is also the title of the week’s column. And of course, a segment on selected feedback from WTW readers, and an appropriate concluding segment, a one-time segment or a continuing one such as our “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline” segment.

[3]   The first two departures from WTW’s basic format were succeeding issues on the passing of Philippine President Corazon “Cory” Aquino (09-07-29 WTW/”Cory Aquino, Goodbye”; 09-08-05 WTW/”Cory Aquino, Goodbye II”)

[4]   “THE ACADEMY CAVALIERS' FORUM (ACF), created on Feb 16, 1998 is a community of men and women who trace their roots to the PHILIPPINE MILITARY ACADEMY (PMA).” Link: