“I love you all!”
These were the last words of Private First Class Dhan Ryan Bayot in a phone call to his loved ones as he went into the thick of the fight with the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City on May 24.
Dhan Ryan’s story tugged at the hearts of netizens and went viral on social media, because of his self-sacrifice to help crush the Maute terrorists, whose rampage has displaced 200,000 people and left the city in ruins.
Dhan Ryan, 24, a native of Zamboanga Sibugay, was said to have radioed his superiors from the battleground to bomb his location, which was occupied by several Maute men.
“Just bomb my location, Sir!” he was quoted as telling his commander on May 24, the third day of fighting.
Dhan Ryan’s father, Sgt. Larry Bayot of the 1st Infantry Battalion, was at his son’s grave in Zamboanga City when contacted by The Manila Times.
It was “painful” to lose his son, but the older Bayot said he took comfort in the fact that what Dhan Ryan did was “heroic.”
“Ryan was a man of his own word. He would always do whatever he said. He was a soldier, a hero and even before he died, he always looked after what would be the better for his fellow military men,” the older Bayot said.
Dhan Ryan, the second of four children, always wanted to be a soldier like his father. The older Bayot said he approved of the decision despite the possibility of his son being killed in action.
“At first, I was worried of what would happen to Ryan but a soldier must first do his duty for the nation. Now that he is gone, I would always recall that I was with him since we are both soldiers in the family,” he told The Manila Times.
The remains of Dhan Ryan, who was part of the 51st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, were retrieved on May 28 by government troops. His face was barely recognizable.
The older Bayot recalled that Dhan Ryan would always call his cousins in Zamboanga Sibugay and narrate every single detail of what happened during his missions, even during clashes with enemy forces.
His cousins, however, would tell him to run away, but he would refuse, saying it was his duty to fight and even die for the country.
“His last words to his cousins during a phone call was ‘I love you all.’ Imagine, the war is ongoing and he can still manage to text his cousins,” the older Bayot said.