By Ali G. Macabalang
A poor old couple from the province of North Cotabato are still reeling with grief over their loss of their son, who was one of the soldiers who bravely fought in the Marawi City strife.
Wilfredo Bueno, 78, father of Pfc. Elmer Bueno, an Army Scout Ranger, described his son as a hero in the country’s fight against terrorism.
“Our son was our hero and he succumbed to heroic fate in government service,” Wilfredo said in Visayan dialect.
Wilfredo added that the country might have lost a selfless soldier, but he and his wife, who is 70 years old, feel his death more deeply since he was “a hero to our family” for “being a sole bread winner.”
“We lost a provider (who had been) subsidizing us through each day,” Wilfredo said.
The Buenos actually had more expenses in the past few months because of their medical therapy, so Wilfredo’s wife took on more work. The wife is currently washing clothes and cleaning the kitchens of their neighbors’ homes in Alamada, a remote area in the province, in exchange for food and some cash.
Elesa, a sister of the fallen soldier, said they kept their mother’s part-time job a secret from Elmer. “The late Elmer did not know about the part-time work of our mother. It was kept from him. My mom did not want to cause him too much burden,” she said.
But now that her brother is gone, Elesa said she has no clue how her parents will make ends meet. “I do not know how my parents can overcome the foreseeable hardships they surely will experience soon with Elmer gone. Life would be so hard for them,” she said.
Elesa’s other brothers, Eduardo and Ernesto, are working as farmers. However, their harvests are not enough to feed all of their impoverished families. “I also have my family to feed, also a poor family. Elmer was a good provider to our parents, whose needs we can hardly provide,” she said.
Elesa is grateful for the support given by North Cotabato Vice Governor Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva, who came to the aid of their family after learning of the sad fate of Elmer. The local official even bared plans to pass a resolution citing their constituents, the fallen soldiers, for heroism and condole with their respective families.
Elmer was fatally shot by a sniper from militant gunmen while he and fellow Scout Rangers were trying to rescue personnel of the 5th Mechanized Battalion from inside their V-150 and Simba combat vehicles which were damaged by rockets and shoulder-fire grenades. The two military vehicles were attacked by terrorists while maneuvering through enemy positions last May 23.
Elmer and his team took two days just to breach through the three-layer defense entrenchment that the terrorists laid around the military vehicles. Four other soldiers from the same province, who belonged to different Army units, also died because of the encounter with Maute and Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Marawi City from May 23 to 27.
They were 1Lt. John Carl Morales and Sgt. Marlon Baldovino, both of Kabacan; as well as Sgt. Eric Coros of Libungan and Cpl. Angelo Estores, Jr. of Pikit.
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