Heroes Old and New

The recently ended war in Marawi City was an unfamiliar one for the officers and soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was not guerrilla warfare, the strategy that the communist insurgency had long employed and on which the army is trained. It was urban warfare -- face-to-face, street-to-street fighting, with the enemy well-armed and well-motivated, its troop movements almost as organized and as massive as the republic's defenders. Thus, along with the immeasurable costs of infrastructure damage, lives and properties lost, and intense traumas among fighters and civilians, come tales of spine-tingling heroism from soldiers who had to employ every iota of courage, bravado, military knowledge and quick-thinking each of them possessed to save their lives and those of their troops, and to attain the objectives of their operations.

One such outstanding fighter was Lt. Geraldo Alvarez of the 51st Mechanized Infantry Company, who was tasked early on in the Marawi siege to rescue an officer wounded in the battlefield. What was normally a relatively easy operation transformed into a very intense four-day battle that Alvarez and his platoon never anticipated. Veteran journalist Criselda Yabes, who spent almost ten hours interviewing Alvarez, writes "Escape Through Death's Door," the very detailed narrative of a military operation that reads better than any fictional movie script.

Meanwhile, Heroes from a different war are the focus of Washington DC-based contributor Jon Melegrito, who reports on the long-overdue Congressional Gold Medal award for Filipino veterans of WWII. 

First-time contributor José Esteban Arcellana recalls the day he departed for the US and the variety of emotions it extracted from him and his family. "Departure Date 1973.August.05" is the first of our Immigrant Stories series. I hope we get yours soon. 

Here's our In the Know compilation of stories this week that will pique your interest:

How could Martial Law happen?

How Scout Ranger commander won hostages’ release

Migrant Life in Qatar

How Daly City's Filipino Mobile DJ Scene Changed Hip-Hop Forever

And for our Happy Home Cook, enjoy Beef Pot Roast, a traditional American dish with a Filipino twist, as shared by my friend, Melanie Q. Suzara.

And for Video of the Week, Catherine Ceniza Choy reads excerpts from her book “Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History” at Berkeley Writers at Work. 

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino