When actress and model Solenn Heussaff was invited by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to visit troops at their Health Service Command, she couldn’t help but get teary-eyed.
“As I went from bed to bed, I came across men who were smiling, but whose souls were crying out. My tears welled up and I felt my heart pounding in my throat as I held their hands one by one,” she relates in her blog, solenn.ph.
The soldiers were part of the war in Marawi, risking lives to battle the Maute group who have brought violent attacks to the city.
She describes the physical and emotional states of the soldiers who sustained injuries in battle: “Many were missing a finger, a leg, an arm. Some of them were smiling through pain and some had smiles I couldn’t even see due to severe burns.”
“My heart was getting ripped into pieces, and every floor became harder and harder to visit,” she says, also chastising herself for having a heavy heart during the visit. “We know nothing close to what these heroes have been through.”
She recognizes how their brave efforts help Filipinos live safely and calls each one of them heroes: “Why is it that we are so distracted by small and stupid things when this is happening so close to us? Why is it that these heroes suffer in silence, while we all just go through life normally?
“All I could tell them was, ‘Thank you, you are heroes.’ We can’t say, ‘I can imagine what you’re going through,’ because we can’t. We can’t say, ‘Things will be fine, because their memories of what happened aren’t.’ We can’t say, ‘Just hold on,’ because who can blame them if they can’t, after all that they’ve seen and been through?”
Besides her showbiz career, Solenn works on her art and advocacies. She shared one of her pieces on Instagram depicting a soldier in fatigue, a woman looking at him while holding her child close to her. The multi-talented personality captioned the painting, “Been working on this artwork for a while now not knowing how real this scenario was.”:
She calls on readers to do their part in thanking the troops: “So I am asking you from the bottom of my heart, if you can help them in any way—physically, emotionally, morally—to give them something to acknowledge what they have done for us. And let’s also not forget their families who are going through this difficult time with them.”
She also mentions that one of the things they may appreciate is a mobile phone: “A few of the men even jokingly said (yes, even at their state, they still find it in their heart to make jokes), ‘Picture na lang tayo sa ibang phone kasi nawala cellphone ko sa Marawi.’ (Let’s take a picture on someone else’s phone because I lost mine in Marawi.) I’m sure they would appreciate phones, too, to keep in touch with their loved ones.” JB
Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City
Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City
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