“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
I borrow a stanza from the poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) to set the somber tone of this week’s piece.
Indeed, the fighting in Marawi has entered into its 77th day today, with no signs of let-up, as Maute fighters continue to ravage the city and its people and our brave and loyal soldiers and policemen try to ferret them out and win this war for the Filipino people.
War does bring out the best and the worst in us and of us, to paraphrase an oft-quoted line. For those of us who can neither stand at the frontlines nor pick up a gun to defend the line, we can only do so much to make sure that our fighting troops have all the support they need in their battles.
For those who have died in the line of duty, it is to ensure that the families they left behind will neither go hungry nor forgotten.
One of the first to respond to the cause of the soldiers and policemen in Marawi was the MVP Group Tulong Kapatid, led by PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan, and coursed through its several foundations such as the PLDT-SMART Foundation, TV5 Alagang Kapatid, One Meralco Foundation, Makati Medical Center Foundation, Philex Group Foundation, Inc., Maynilad, just to name a few.
So far, the MVP Group Tulong Kapatid effort has given medical aid through medical missions, relief goods, mobile and cellular service, food assistance, clothing, water, and of course, financial assistance.
GO NEGOSYO, the advocacy of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) founded by RFM Corporation President and CEO, now Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III, led the Salamat Magigiting Na Mandirigma (Thank You, Brave Soldiers) event at Malacañan Palace where financial assistance was given to the families of 101 soldiers and policemen who laid down their lives in the service of their country in what we now consider as the Battle of Marawi.
I must say that this effort was something worth emulating because Joey Con and his dedicated and hardworking team took around 10 days to get in touch with the families of the fallen to tell them that their loved ones killed in battle will be honored, and that they would be at Malacañan with no less than the President of the Republic leading the ones to honor the soldiers and policemen. Through the generosity of Lucio Tan and Philippine Airlines, as well as young billionaire Injap Sia of Mang Inasal fame, every single family of the 101 honorees could attend the ceremony at the Palace.
Before the ceremony started, I saw former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and members of the DU30 Cabinet Spouses Association led by Betty Medialdea, Marissa Lim Aguirre, Edith Lorenzana, Kristine Dino, and Mirasol Tugade going around and talking to the families of the deceased, consoling them and offering them words of support and encouragement. Ginggay Hontiveros, who has been in the forefront of this effort, like what she is doing for Sulu, handled with dignity the task of being master of ceremonies.
When the ceremony started and as tributes were being given and videos of the soldiers were being played throughout the aptly-named Heroes Hall, there was never a dry eye in the audience as some even wept unabashedly at the fate our brave soldiers and policemen had suffered in Marawi.
President Duterte expressed his thanks to the GO NEGOSYO Kapatids and the businessmen and women who supported this noble endeavor. You can see from the President’s language and demeanor the genuine pain that he feels for the slain soldiers and their families.
My hats off to Go Negosyo and the very generous Kapatids, as well as the Cabinet Spouses Association chaired by Honeylet Avancena; to the MVP Group Tulong Kapatid of, among others, Esther Santos and Mon Isberto of PLDT-SMART Foundation, Menchie Silvestre of TV5 Alagang Kapatid, Marge Barro of MMC Foundation, and Melody Del Rosario of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation; and to Butch Meily of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) who also provided medical assistance and relief support. This is another form of Private-Public Partnership or PPP, another example of great things happening when the private and public sector join forces for the good of the nation and its people.
Our profound thanks to the following people who have made the Go Negosyo tribute a resounding success: Dr. George Yap, Tessie Sy-Coson, Josephine Gotianun-Yap, Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Alfred Ty, Jean Henri Lhuillier, Mildred Vitangcol, Alice Eduardo, Federico Lopez, Michael Tan, William Belo, Dennis Uy, Tony Tan Caktiong, Ricky Delgado, Santi Araneta, Sabin Aboitiz, and Jojo Concepcion. The nation will forever be grateful.
“As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”