By Erwin G. Beleo
San Fernando City, La Union — Twelve-year-old Kleine Neil Boado, the boy who lost his battle to a rare form of nerve cancer in this city, was a big fan of the Philippine Army; and so at his funeral march, troopers came out to give him what could be closest to a military send-off.
It was at the Sillag Festival at Poro Point last April when Army soldiers first took notice of Kleine.
Struck by “Ewing’s Sarcoma,” the boy was frail and ailing as he watched the festival parade on the sidelines.
Six soldiers from Alpha Company of the army’s 81st Infantry Battalion based in Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur, approached Kleine and learned about his condition.
Sgt. Allan Manzano, team leader of the Alpha Company, said Kleine was so amazed by the military drill they performed that his eyes would light up.
“It was his last wish to meet the army soldiers,” said Rosario Flores, Kleine’s grandmother and guardian.
She recalled how her grandson wished that he could handle the firearm used by troopers.
“We granted his wish and let him hold an M-16 and the sniper rifle that we had,” said Manzano.
Before they parted, Kleine had his photo taken with “his six army heroes” and wished he could see them again.
At Kleine’s funeral last Wednesday, San Fernando City Mayor Dong Gualberto facilitated the visit of the army troopers.
It was learned that Kleine’s mother, Gloria Boado, an overseas Filipino worker in China, could not make it to his funeral due to an unfinished contract.
Many were surprised when the army troopers arrived to pay their last respects to the boy.
Manzano told the crowd that two of Kleine’s army friends could not make it because they were assigned to battle the Maute Group in Marawi City but they had sent their sympathies to the family.
Manzano came with Kleine’s friends Corporal Nomer Aloquin, Private First Class Jereco Anasan, and Private First Company Edward Castillo, Jr.,along with two other members of Alpha Company.
“Kahit papaano, natupad din ’yung wish ni Kleine (Kleine’s wish has come true),” Flores said tearfully, as the army troopers carried Kleine’s coffin at the funeral march.
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