Senate commends 14th Infantry Battalion for Yolanda efforts
FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – Going beyond the call of duty, soldiers from the 14th Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, braved the catastrophe called “Yolanda” to ensure the safety of the residents of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
Guiaun was among the first municipalities to have experienced the wrath of super typhoon Yolanda when it struck the Philippines on November 8 of last year.
Stationed at Brgy. Dao, Oras, Eastern Samar , troops from the 14th Infantry Battalion readied themselves to take pre-emptive measures to lessen, if not to contain, the damages that will be brought by the super typhoon, which is said to be the strongest to hit not just the Philippines, but the world.
One squad of the 14th Infantry Battalion led by its squad leader, Cpl Emerson P Mendoza, proceeded to the Municipality of Guiuan days before Yolanda is expected to make landfall to assist the local government unit in evacuating residents and packing relief items.
With the spirit of “bayanihan” burning and alive among them, they risked lives and limb to preserve the lives of others. They helped in the search and rescue operations after the typhoon, clearing of roads, and in providing security to volunteers travelling to far-flung areas to deliver relief items.
This earned them the commendation of the Senate of the Philippines for their incredible act of bravery during the wake of typhoon Yolanda.
On February 19, 10 soldiers from the 14th Infantry Battalion were commended by the Senate through Resolution 415, with Senate President Franklin M Drilon personally handing them the award in Pasay City.
The whole of Leyte and Eastern Samar fell prey to Yolanda. Cpl Mendoza, the squad leader, was from Lapas, Leyte; his wife and two children residing thereat. On the morning of November 8, during the time when strong winds, heavy rains, and raging waters battered Guiuan, Cpl Mendoza was thinking of his family back home, and praying hard that they be spared from the disaster.
“It is all that I could do, to pray, because I have a greater duty to perform for my country and for the people,” said Cpl Mendoza.
Cpl Mendoza narrated that they feared not just for their safety and their families’, but for the safety of the residents as well.
“We have to secure ourselves in order for us to help save the people. We cannot show them that we are afraid. We have to establish a stronger front because many people depended on us. We were at the area before, during and after Yolanda,” narrated Cpl Mendoza.
Despite limitations, the soldiers went out of their way to help. They were the first responders. About two days later, reinforcement from the 14th Infantry Battalion came.
Since communication signal is down, Cpl Mendoza had no way to know about the situation of his family. It was days later that he learned that their house had been washed out, but then his family’s safe.
Days before Yolanda is expected to make landfall, Cpl Mendoza’s squad is already prepositioned in Guiuan so they saw the preparations made by the local government.
The troops also came in ready and prepared with their ration and communications equipment.
Unfortunately, all were destroyed, except their food ration whom they were able to share with the survivors.
Members of the 14th Infantry Battalion may not have saved the whole of Guiuan, because Yolanda is stronger, but they were still able to save lives and ensure the safety of the residents, to which they will forever have the gratitude of Guiuan and the Filipino people.