2 LT REZEL FAITH C SELA O- 143944 PA
Faith. All her friends call her by her second name and it goes very well with her personality, being the platoon leader of the 1002nd brigade in Sarangani province. She is assigned in the mountains to lead her troop to implement the Iindigenous People Peace and Development Outreach Program (IPPDOP), a project of our government, to facilitate the delivery of basic services, promote livelihood sustenance, safeguard the security and welfare of her own tribe, and prevent the CPP-NPA from exploiting the indigenous peoples in the area, as she is an IP herself. Faith is a born-member of the Blaan tribe, growing up with their customs, beliefs, tradition and speaking their own language.
Blaan people are one of the most vulnerable tribe in the mountains of Mindanao, as often they are being harassed, if not being recruited by the New People’s Army. But Faith, through the initiative of her Brigade Commander, Col Villanueva, assigned her to go up hiking the mountains regardless of her gender, just to lead her men, as well as her own tribe.
It was the most challenging task she’s ever done so far, as Faith narrated. At first, her own tribe would reject her. Her team wearing the military uniform, in the eyes of the Blaan tribe meant as a threat to their own people. They have been man-handled by the leftists, telling the IP’s that the government, the military is their enemy. But as her name says it, she never lost faith that one day she would once again be accepted by her people. In the long run, as her team educate them, teaching them how to read, write and individually signify their own signatures as they are accustomed to signing through thumb marks only, they have been embraced and welcomed by the IP’s. Faith’s troop taught the tribe how plant trees by giving them seedlings. And as of now, a 3-room school building is being built in their place as a project of Cong. Manny Pacquiao. She recalls how the Blaan tribe used to behave when they first arrive in the far-flung area of the tribe. They wouldn’t allow her group to have any nor even sell them a single livestock for food. Even the youngest member of the tribe would shout “May kalaban! May kalaban!” upon seeing them wearing that camouflage suit. It was so frustrating for her and her men for the whole tribe to behave in such a way when they all belong to the same ethnic group.
Faith has experienced three encounters so far while in the mountain with the IP’s. During the first and second harassment by the leftists, she didn’t fight back thinking that those rebels firing at them are her own people, belonging to their tribe and the blood running through their veins are the same as the blood running in her. She was hesitant to hurt anyone knowing they all belong to the tribe. But, on her third encounter that happened just this December 12, 2015, the time when they have educated every Blaan individual, she had this feeling that they were all grateful that Faith and her group’s with them, it was, in fact, the Blaan people themselves who warned them that the New People’s Army are already nearby and are planning an attack on her platoon. It was such an unforgettable experience for her since during the firefight, the IP’s all went behind her as if silently saying “defend us from these NPA’s”. It was then the first time that she fired her gun and smelled the scent of gun powder. Admittingly, she said the scenario and the gun powder made her fearless evenmore.
As of now, she is one hundred per cent sure the whole of Blaan tribe is for the government. Recently they held their Christmas party within the tribal area and Faith cannot describe the happiness she’d seen in each of the clan member. Even the candies they gave them were greatly appreciated. What captured her heart the most, was the time they were given livestock for gratis. As she describes, this barely happens within the Blaans unless they are one with you.
Faith’s team is composed of 5 PNP’s, 3 CAFGU’s, and 18 enlisted personnel. One of her CAFGU recruits used to be a member of the Guerilla Front for 21 years. As recalled by the said CAFGU, he used to have in his hand 3 million Pesos as money to campaign for the NPA. But he was not allowed to spend even a single peso from that 3 million for it was purposely allotted for his commanders. And he was just feeding his fellow NPA’s plain root crops or boiled bananas. That very incident made him think, and made him decide to comeback to the mainstream society.
Just like every soldier, Faith desires for peace and for insurgencies to end. For such a long time, this has been our internal security concern. Being all Filipinos, she wishes for her leftist friends to be one with the government and help one another in building peace. But she is ever ready to give up her life just as the oath she had sworn if the need arises.
“Hindi ko itinuturing na kayo ay mga kalaban ko, kapwa tayo mga Pilipino, sana magtulungan na lang tayo para sa kapayapaan nating lahat. So sna kung may iisipin tayo, yun yung ibang bansa na pilit na inaangkin ang ating mga lupain. Pero yung internal na problema natin, so sa mga kapwa ko NPA, specially sa mga ka-tribo ko, andito kami handa kami. Kahit mahirap, especially sa mga babae, lalu na kung may monthly period ka, kahit namumutla ka kase 8-12 hours bago namin marating yung area, so day & night movement talaga kami, pero ok lang sa akin yun. Ang importante, nagpag sisilbihan namin kayo, handa kaming mag sakripisyo, handa naming ibigay ang buhay namin para lang maipaliwanag sa inyo, para lang maibalik kayo o maibigay yung totoong liwanang sa inyo”. – 2LT REZEL FAITH C SELA