1st of three parts
Recently, we’ve been reading reports about activism and communism all over social media. As a student, I’ve been invited many times to join some organizations that are allegedly affiliated with the Communist Party based on the news. I have always been serving the country. I wonder if you can give me your insights on patriotism and love of country.
The national convention of Philippine Nurses Association in 2019 first introduced me to the idea of joining the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a reservist. But long before the idea came, particularly to join the Philippine Air Force, I already had in me two things: love of country and a dream of becoming a pilot.
When I was young — and still up to this day — I had and have always been a fan of aviation. It always amuses me to be airborne, and that’s what I enjoy the most about traveling. It’s not that I don’t enjoy speaking to thousands of people in the Philippines and abroad, I do. But the idea of being in the sky for hours gives me a sense of joy. I thought it’s good to be up there, thousands of feet away from Earth.
But as fate had it — or hadn’t — I didn’t become a pilot.
The love of country, however, stayed with me. And this is the deeper reason why I joined the Philippine Air Force. I want to serve the country — not as a civilian but as part of an organization that protects it.
After our military training, one thing is certain; I was never the same person I was before. There are a couple of realizations during and after the training. It has only been a week since we graduated from Basic Citizen Military Training, yet the experience and the learning are still so vivid I can still feel the pain and the joy of being part of the exercise.
Forget who you are. My years of being the boss in my company and the accomplishments I made over a decade as a professional speaker didn’t affect the way our trainers give their order or command. The goal is to treat people equally regardless of the background. They tell you what to do. You do it. Simple? I hope it is. It’s not.
Your pride taken away is difficult. But to serve the country as a man in uniform, you have to be the least, the last, but hopefully not the lost. You have to start with the basic idea of forgetting yourself because in the military leadership, it is mission first.
Your leader will make sure you obey or go home until obedience has become your default response. As they say, “Obey first, complain later.” Or “Obey first, and just murmur.” Obedience plays a very important role in military leadership. You are asked to obey because that’s exactly what you will do when you take a leadership role.
Over the course of the training, we were reminded about the value of self-respect. You don’t work in a team alone. You will need to learn to blend and work with others. The camaraderie is important if you want to stay alive. Thus, we were given common challenges and experiences, which can bind us moving forward. Everybody eats what everybody eats. Everybody sleeps where everybody sleeps. Everybody smells like everybody.
Joining the military isn’t about what it can do for me. Some people say it’s another feather in my cap. I wish it were, but no. It’s my contribution in building a nation not just for me and family but for the generations to come after I am long gone.
On a hand salute, standing straight, facing the Philippine flag, the national anthem was played. I cried not because my task was finally over. I cried because I know a new man emerged in that fateful training. I cried because I know it was the beginning of yet another journey that is more about the country and less about myself.
Many have been said about love of country. But only few people realize that love is a service made available. This year, I made sure to live it. Because I love my country, I made myself available to serve.
A snappy salute to the great men and women in uniform — the peacemakers and protectors of our nation. It’s a tremendous honor to serve with you all.
Sgt. Lloyd A Luna PAFR, RSP, is the first registered speaking professional in the Philippines. He is a motivational speaker on leadership and best-selling author of Stepback: The Lost Art of Filipino Leadership. He is the chief executive officer of Stepback, a leadership and culture development company that helps leaders and organizations see the bigger picture in life and at work. Visit his website www.stepback.ph or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.