1st Life Lesson from “Vietnam Veterans Homecoming: Crossing the Line”

Once in our lives we encounter great works, works that can greatly influence who we are, what we are and what we will be. Works that will inspire us to go on and face all of life’s challenges head on.

Works that will help us find our inner PEACE…

A special person shared with me something to read and compare my life against… I was and I will always be thankful…the lessons I will gain will never be erased…till I draw my last breath of life…

Let me extract great advices and realizations from the book and let me try to have a simple analogy to the lives we live…

Life lesson 1:

…”The universal experience who suffer greatly is that during the times of suffering and healing, they experience a great divide between themselves and those around them”

The Vets find it easier to hug each other than hold a baby. Their common experience was their bond, something they have all felt and understood and unlikely felt and understood by the civilians (especially their families) who never went to war like them.

Likely, they were together as they saw comrades wounded and killed… the anguish and the anger they have felt. They were together as the bullets were flying overhead, when bombs were blasting everywhere and when the night was never calming as the mind is anticipating attacks…

They were together fighting to survive, fighting for their lives… more than actually fighting for the objectives at which the war was set forth… (most of them don’t even know why they were there, it’s an absolute responsibility to respond to the call of duty…)… THIS IS THEIR BOND. This is what they all understood.

Life after the war will never be the same again for them. Their views of what life is, changed, deepened. Their wisdom changed, it widened. Their capability to express themselves changed, they became inhibited (they were trained not to “feel” during the war, they were taught to”think” because war is never for those who have a soft/ weak hearts…you should be apathetic, void of emotions to be able to kill another human being, who actually never did anything wrong against you, it just so happened that they were considered “enemies” by your camp)

This is where the Vets ( or even our own retired, resigned soldiers ) are misunderstood.

I was thinking of my own father, one gallant soldier who almost lost his life during the height of insurgencies in Mindanao. He lived a decorated military life.

At first, we were just oriented to the fame and glory of the uniform. It was pretty glamorous. But when my father decided to “expose” us to the harsh realities of the life of a soldier ( being the eldest, he would always bring me along whenever possible, and when I finished nursing, I worked in a military facility assigned to extract wounded soldiers during insurgencies in CALABARZON and that time Bicolandia. Our facility is the first response group), I (I will speak for myself) understood… and I loved him more…

I have seen him shove away bribes that come in allowing or disallowing “activities” in his area of responsibility. I have witnessed how he protected his soldiers, especially those who are in the front line.

I have felt the passion he and those around him share. I have understood that, every time I was with him.

I was never first priority, the country is. I understood that.

His love for his work was clearly defined. His love for us was completely different, his softer side – a far cry from the tough commander he was.

I have seen him strategize with his men. I saw them prayed before jump off for an especially dangerous operation. I saw the fear in some of the soldiers’ eyes as they call loved ones to say how much they care, before they go and pursue the enemies of the state. I saw how they transform into emotionless battle ready elements as they board C130 or the Hummer or the six by six trucks.

My heart as an observer breaks when the some of the people I waved goodbye to at send off (some of them my close friends) come home in stretchers – agonizing in pain, begging to for their lives to be saved, giving me last wills that if they wont be able to make it, I have to tell their families how much they loved them….sooooo heartbreaking!

My heart dies as some arrive in caskets… something I fear whenever we receive radio messages that there will be air evacuations from Basilan…

I stood witness of wives losing their husbands to bullets and children losing their fathers to bomb blasts…

Today, I stood witness of how some managed to go through the experience and how that experience destroyed the lives of some who were left behind…

I SAW my father died and lived, literally. He was shot by an insurgent, the emergency evacuation from Dadiangas to General Santos was forever, I thought.

We were with him, my younger brother and I. It was a day before Christmas. We were supposed to celebrate Christmas with him.

Then it happened. After a few minutes of gunfire (with us in the foxhole), somebody shouted “Medics!!!! Officer down!”. My heart raced. I hope its not our father. Then someone shouted, ” kunin ang mga bata!”. A big soldier came rushing, scooped me and my brother,  and off he went running to a waiting military vehicle.

I saw him on the floor of the make-shift ambulance. That’s when I realized, my father was shot. He was there, covered with blood. He was rushed to the hospital, we were with him.

I was crying because he was hurting. At age 10 that time, it never occurred to me how critical the situation was, that he was about to die…I plainly saw what was happening as it was, he was in deep pain.

We reached the hospital an hour after, people were so busy, there was so much movement, so many things said I couldn’t understand…

The only word I can recall was “pump!”. I never knew what it was then. Only later I realized, they were doing CPR on my father, trying to revive him. His heart stopped for a while. People in white were all over, each to his own thing.

Then, someone again shouted, “stop!”. I learned later that the heart started beating again… 1 minute before Christmas Eve, I was told. That time, I was thankful because he was no longer in pain. Now, I am thankful that he is alive.

These are the perils of a soldier’s life and the agony of the soldier’s family. I knew, we were there.

So much heart thumping action, everyday  is very uncertain, especially during times of national unrest.

People are watching the TV,  just waiting who will win in political battles (sometimes, its hurting to hear them, “sige bombahin nyo na!”… God forgive them for they don’t understand how many soldiers, even innocent civilians,  will loose their lives again in the process) while we sit in prayer that there would be no need to raise arms – our father ( or in the case of some, their mother or both their parents) was there, awaiting orders, on red alert. (During red alerts by the way, we cant see them, we cant talk to them… even our communication with them is considered a security risk… too much anxiety it gives to the whole family…). Everyday, for us, is a struggle.

I saw how my father failed in his transition from being a military man, who was always in command, to an ordinary citizen when he retired.

People just have double standards.

When he was still in uniform, sitting in the position, people, especially those who are requesting favors, “loved” him, showered him with what they have… so much insincerity around…

When he retired, it was so difficult to even talk to these people. Sadly, these are the same people whose spouses, he protected in the field, the same people whose son or daughter he had helped to be accepted in the force, who are judging him and negating him. I saw how he struggled emotionally.

I even saw my own mom, demanding him to be the father that he is, the husband that he should be. It hurts because they are both hurting, they didn’t understand where the other one was coming from. My mom was thinking like the “civilian observer”… my father was thinking like the “seasoned soldier”… There was a time that all hell broke loose inside the home… That was our adjustment phase.

In all of this, I thank God, I understood. Silently I watched. Silently, I encouraged my brothers and sisters to just be quiet and just love them both. I slowly took over the responsibility of running the home… while both our parents were obsessed in finding fault in each other.

They were adjusting. They were used to just seeing each other at least twice or thrice a year, during occasions for the past 25 years. Now they have to live together, 24 hours a day, everyday…Difficult, but we understood, its a good thing we saw how our father lived his life in the field…

My father was not the same man anymore. He was not anymore the hopeless romantic who pursued my mother years ago. He was shaped by his military experience.

He knew that he would only be understood by his “Boks” who went through that same challenge, that same ordeal.

I have observed how his face would lit up when he sees old comrades, how he would show his old jolly self as they talk about things only they would understand. There is so much happiness in his eyes. I couldn’t be envious.  They share the same thoughts, the same experience, the same passion, the same deep regard to each other, the same “I will die defending my country, I will leave no man behind” mentality.

What he shared to us was only love – its on a different level. We understood. And we loved him more.

This is our OWN NAM, our OWN WAR. My parents survived. My siblings and I survived… because we tried to understand… and we did and we are still struggling to survive this Nam.

(more lessons to follow as I go through the book… this is just about the INTRO… whew!)

About chilledhoney

"INVICTUS" panulat na matalinhaga, panulat na tumatama… ang kaisipan at kahulugan ay napag-iisa…. mga kaisipang minsan ay matindi at maanghang pagkawika, ngunit minsan nama’y payak, humahaplos sa kamalayan, puso at isipan…. at sa aking maikling panahong paikot ikot dito sa harding aking tambayan… oras ay di ko namamalayan… sa mga puna at palagay, ako ay nasisiyahan…. napakasarap pakawalan ang malayang kaisipan….

Posted on May 27, 2012, in FREE FLOW, KARANASAN, SURVIVAL KITS NG BUHAY. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. literally teary-eyed upon reading this.

  2. so many lessons to learn….

  3. Reblogged this on Chilledhoney's Blog and commented:

    ISANG PAGPUPUGAY SA AKING AMA, HAPPY FATHER’S DAY PAPA! Mahal na mahal ka namin!

  4. Manul-nulat ng Bayan

    ang giting pala ng ama mo…….ang karanasan niyong iyon ay alam kong nagpatibay pang lalo sa inyong pagsasamahan…at nangyari ang lahat ng ito ayon sa kagustuhan ng kapalaran…kapalarang inilalaan ng Poong makapangyarihan….

    • Isa siyang amang huwaran at nais ko iyang isigaw sa buong mundo….^_^

      Hindi siya naging perpekto ngunit iyon ay dahil sa hiling ng panahon at pagkakataon…

      Anu pa man, Ginoo, siya ay aking amang ipinagkakapuri…

      Anuman ang sabihin ng ibang tao, hindi nila mababago na ang aking ama at ang ang mga nasaksihan kong kanyang karanasan ay pinaghugutan ko ng maraming aral na sa aking buhay, mga aral na siyang aking ginagawang gabay…

      salamat sa pagbabasa… aking nais na mas marami pang makabasa dahil iyan ay pagpupugay di lamang sa aking ama, kundi sa mga sundalong aking mga naging kaibigan at kasama…

  5. Kumabog ang dibdib ko dito… ( kaya iniiwasan kong basahin ito hehehe)
    Ang hirap maging anak ng sundalo. Wala halos oras ang ama mo sa inyo. Kung nadistino pa sa malayo, swerte na umuwi ng pasko o bagong taon. Pagmaygulo, ang nanay mo di magkandatuto sa pagdadasal na maging ligtas ang ama mo at ang mga kasama nito. Nakakatakot magbukas ng pinto o sumagot ng telepono.
    Hindi maiwasan na ang disiplina ng ama eh parang training ground. Dahil sa mga experiences nila,dala dala gang sa tirahan. nagkaroon sila ng takot. Kailangan ka nyang protektahan. Kaya lang medyo sumosobra. Paranoid na sila minsan. Hindi nila makontrol ang emotions nila. Dahil sa war parang may pagkaWAR freak na sila( sorry sa word na war freak ha, para madali lang describe). Mahirap maintindihan pag bata pa. Kailangang lumaki ka salamuha sila para maintindihan…. Sila ang mga amang may dalawang katauhan…

    • Happy father’s day sa inyong magiting at kapitapitagang ama…
      Sir! Saludo kami sa inyo…🙂

    • Talaga bang iniwasang basahin? ^_^

      Isa ito sa mga kathang aking isinulat ng buong puso at kaluluwa…

      Nais kong “maappreciate” ng mga civilians ang buhay ng ating mga kasundaluhan…

      Isang halimbawa lamang ang buhay namin at ang aking ama bilang isang tagapagtanggol ng bayan…

      Mahirap ang buhay ng mga kasapi ng Philippine Army…malayo sa buhay ng ating mga kapulisan o iba pang naka upo lamang sa mga luklukang de aircon…

      Masakit sa dibdib ko na mapag alamang ang kanilang sahod ay nasa 8K – 30K lamang, depende sa rank, mas mataas ang rank, mas mataas din ang sweldo ngunit ang taas ay, kung sila ay tapat, di kayang magpatayo ng bungalow o magpaaral ng apat na supling….

      At sa panahon ng di pagkakaunawaan, at sila ay nasa gitna ng mga balang nagliliparan… ang tanging baon ay 555 sardines at skyflakes… ilang araw man matapos ang tunggalian…

      Tama ito:

      “You pay us with your taxes, we pay you with our lives”

      Uuwing sugatan o nasa kabaong na ang katawan….

      Ang aking Ama, sampu ng kanyang mga kasamahan ay maituturing kong bayani di lamang ng aming pamilya, kundi ng iba pang mga pamilyang nagtatamasa ngayon ng ating kalayaan…

      Kailangan nila ay pang-unawa, aking hiling sa karamihan…

      Hindi natin alam ang bigat ng kanilang pinagdaanan at pinagsamahan…

      Tulungan natin sila lalo na sa kanilang transition from being in full control to being, in partial control…

      • Oo kasi dahil dito, ntatakot akong basahin “Uuwing sugatan o nasa kabaong na ang katawan….”😦

        Bayani silang matatawag. Ang dami nilang sinakripisyo. Kabilang na ang sariling pamilya.

        Tama ka. Mahirap ang maging bahagi ng hukbong katihan. Maaring ang sa paglabas sa kampo upang siguraduhin ang kaligtasan ng nasasakupan ay maaari nang walang balikan… “Isang paa nila nasa hukay”….

        Ayoko talaga to… Nagtataasan ang balahibo ko.. May balahibo ba ang palaka? hihi

        Yom tov( good day) ms honey….
        Doon ako sa hardin mo na puno ng orkidyas.. Medyo masakit kumagat sa bahaging ito ang mga bubuyog na nakapiligid sa iyong pukyutan hehehhe

      • Wagas ang pagakakasulat mo ng akdang ito. kaya nga nangingilabot ako, alam kong hango ito sa totoong buhay. Ramdam ko ang lahat ng inyong pinagdaan. Halo-halong emosyon sa ibat ibang pagkakataon. Mga bagay na pilit inuunawa dahil mas malimit ang hirap maintindihan..
        Ang pakikibaka ng hukbong katihan at kwento ng holocaust… Mga kwentong dapat nakasanayan ko nang marinig.. Kaya lang, pagkasawi ang kinahahantungan… Nakakapangilabot… Hindi ko sinasadyang iwasang basahin ito. (paumanhin) Dangan nga lamang isa kang magaling na manunulat at binubuhay nito ang imahinasyon sa aking utak….( hehhe may ganun eh noh).

    • Salamat na rin Froggy, dahil kahit mabigat ang dating, iyo paring binigyang pansin…

      Natuwa naman ako sa papuri mo…

      “Dangan nga lamang isa kang magaling na manunulat at binubuhay nito ang imahinasyon sa aking utak”

      Kailan lang kasi, hindi ganyan ang aking pakiramdam… naroong ang tanong, dapat pa bang magpatuloy magsulat? Hindi ko kasi naiibigang lumalabo ang aking tinta…hindi maipahiwatig ng tama ang nadarama…

      Anyway, highway, by the way…

      Tunay ngang ito ay kathang lubos ang aking kasiyahang matapos kahit ito ay may bahid ng kalungkutang di maibibigyang hustisya kung isasalarawan ng hindi pa ito naranasan…

      Ako ay naninindigan, mga kasapi ng Hukbong Katihan ay ang ating unang pananggalang…

      Nararapat lamang na sila ay pahalagahan…

      At ang kanilang mga karanasan, di matatawarang nagbago ng kanilang katauhan…

      Maging mapag-unawa nawa ang lipunang ginagalawan….

      ^_^

  6. wow! ang ganda nito – ang ideya na sa totoo lang, sa loob ng tao, ayaw niya ng gera. he wants peace, at home and outside. but one’s got his duties and his callings. and he fights bravely and with honor but is not necessarily understood. and that there are things that one does but may and can break the hearts and loyalties of the people dear and near to him. ahaha, parang ganoon ang kuha ko, kapatid. ^^

    one of my favorite movies is Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, about the Fil-Jap War. ironically, walang battle scenes doon or even encounter, just one shot fired yata within the movie. it was all about the chase, actually… sa libro naman, A Separate Peace, tungkol sa isang athletic young man who died one summer in 1916 (WWI). wala ring fight scenes, just the thoughts and feelings of young men entertaining or avoiding the idea of being drafted for military duties. ayon… hellow!😉

    • A copy of the book was given to me…from “someone” who wanted to share the daunting emotions that came with reading the book…

      I did read, intro pa nga lang… busy pa kasi hihihi

      And the Intro made the thoughts flow as it is above….

      Nakarelate ng husto, coming from the same community and observing the truth so vividly described in the book as happening or as had happened in real life… our “life”….we have our own “NAM”…

      Will check out the titles you have mentioned… It would be nice to explore the emotions and the lessons further…

      Maraming salamat hihihi….di na muna kita tatawaging “ate”… mas gusto ko sa labi ang pagbanggit ng SALIW…

      Gandang Araw!

  1. Pingback: Life Lesson 2: Transition… « Chilledhoney's Blog

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