Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

By Arlyn dela Cruz, Jeoffrey Maitem, Tarra Quismundo
Last updated 04:28am (Mla time) 08/24/2007


MANILA, Philippines — “By, Aylabyu.”

In the playful, mushy lingo of young lovers, this “text” message from 2nd Lt. Ludwig Salvador reached his girlfriend’s mobile phone at 8:55 p.m. of Aug. 17.

The next day, it proved to be the officer’s final farewell: Salvador and 14 other Marines were killed in a nine-hour assault on a major encampment of Abu Sayyaf bandits on Basilan island.

“He told me about a possible encounter and (that I had) to be prepared for anything that could happen, and I remember myself telling him ‘I love you’ and telling him to make sure he did not get hit in the face,” said Bernielyn Cabral, 25.

She was recalling a phone conversation she had with Ludwig shortly before he and his team were deployed to Silangkum, Ungkaya Pukan town. Salvador apparently “texted” her moments before he “jumped off” for the last mission he would lead as company commander.

Cabral was among the mourners who gathered at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Monday night when the remains of 13 of the slain Marines were brought back to Manila.

Father also fought in Basilan

By her side was Ludwig’s father, Jaime Salvador, a retired Army captain who himself saw action in Mindanao in the 1970s against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Amid the grief that surrounded them, the elder Salvador managed to keep his military composure in the way he tried to make sense of his son’s death.

“I fought in the same area where my son was killed and I am aware of the high ground (often enjoyed by the enemy) that could work against the government troops. I am also aware that the rebels will always have the advantage as far as mastery of the terrain is concerned,” he said.

The grieving father recalled how, during his tour of duty, he also lost many men because of “this same reason.” He was then a platoon leader engaging MNLF forces in Basilan led by Gerry Salapuddin, who years later would become a congressman after the separatist group signed a peace agreement with the government.

‘General’ Salvador

Cabral said Ludwig, even when they were still classmates at the Meralco Foundation Institute in Pasig City, “dreamed of becoming a general” and kept this dream alive by eventually enrolling in the Philippine Military Academy.

“So the moment we (his classmates) learned that he entered the PMA, we were already calling him ‘general,’” she said.

But with Ludwig’s career cut short by the latest military debacle in Basilan, “in my heart, he is already a general and his gallantry will always be remembered and honored in the hearts of many,” Cabral said.

In other parts of the country, tributes not only from family members but entire communities continue to be held for the Marines killed in the Aug. 18 encounter.

Tribute to Soloren

In Sto. Nino town, South Cotabato province, hundreds of residents on Wednesday night lit candles and lined the highway for a motorcade held in honor of 1st Lt. Erwin Soloren, 23.

Soloren was a member of PMA’s Mandirigma ng Dangal ng Lahi (Mandala) Class of 2006 and the ninth best finisher of the batch.

He was salutatorian of his grade school class, and graduated with honors from the Notre Dame of Marbel High School in Koronadal City. Before he entered the PMA, Soloren took up civil engineering at the Mapua Institute of Technology in Manila.

From the General Santos City International Airport, the casket bearing Soloren’s body arrived at the family residence at around 6:30 p.m., amid wails and weeping.

“The government should have sent to the battlefield experienced soldiers and not fresh graduates. I think it was a technical error,” Soloren’s father Porferio told reporters.

Mayor Antonio Damandaman said Soloren “brought pride and honor” to the town, whose residents “grieve over his death.”

But the mayor also decried the government offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu as a waste of lives and money, saying: “Military action has proven not effective. Since I was a young boy, there was already fighting in Basilan and Sulu. Now, there still is.”

Honors for Udaundo

In Manila, the parents of Air Force 1st Lt. Claudio Udaundo Jr., an Air Force pilot killed in a helicopter crash also in Basilan on Saturday, said the honors being heaped on their son have somehow cushioned the pain.

“I have relatives who would tell me, ‘Your child was a good man, he is now a hero because he defended our country,’” said Rachel Udaundo, the pilot’s mother.

“Whenever I hear something like that, somehow, that eases the pain in my chest,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the wake held at the Philippine Air Force mortuary.

Udaundo, 27, was considered the first casualty from the Air Force since the military launched an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf on Basilan last month. He was then piloting an MG-520 attack helicopter, one of the three choppers scouring the combat zone, when his craft reportedly encountered engine trouble.

He left behind seven siblings and wife Marilyn, whom he married last year just months after he was assigned to the 15th Strike Wing based in Sangley Point, Cavite.

Libingan ng mga Bayani

While the family can bury Claudio in his native Gatarran, Cagayan, Rachel said a more fitting resting place for her son would be the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) in Taguig City.

“It will be a sacrifice to visit him all the way from Cagayan but we will go visit him there (at the Libingan), especially on [Nov. 1],” she said.

The pilot’s grandparents are also expected to arrive from Hawaii for the burial set on Aug. 30.

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