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A contrast of heroes

In business, we look up to individuals whether worker or manager who by their exemplary performance serve as inspiration for the total workforce. New entrants to the company are regaled by stories of salesmen who exceeded their sales quotas despite the almost insurmountable challenges of competitors.   We are entranced by business leaders who led enterprises from near bankruptcy towards survival and eventually success in the industry.  What is true in business is very true in the struggle to protect the national sovereignty.

Invited to the book launching of “Warriors for Peace” by Ben Cal at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Museum in Camp Aguinaldo, I saw a section with the prominent signage – “The Wall of Heroes: The Medal for Valour Awardees”. The Medal for Valour (MFV) is awarded by the President of the Philippines to military personnel of the AFP, including recognized guerrilla forces for involvement in actual conflict against armed enemies wherein the military personnel had demonstrated conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.  To earn the award, one must perform in action a deed of personal bravery or self-sacrifice … so conspicuously as to distinguish him above his comrades.

An accompanying frame to the one with a photo of the MFV lists the 98 recipients which includes 12 Americans of the old Philippine Constabulary and 3 from the defunct Integrated National Police.  The first recipients were 2nd Class Inspector Henry Knauber, 1st Class Private Manuel Gonzales and 2nd Class Private Luis Perez who were awarded for their actions against the group of “Capitan” Julian Ramos in Barrio Caititinga, Indang, Cavite on 24 February 1902.

The latest (as of the exhibit date) awardees are Lt. Col. Noel S. Buan PA and SSgt. Leopoldo C. Diokno PA for acts of conspicuous courage and gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life and beyond the call of duty during an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf Group at Barangay Makiri, Lantawan, Basilan Province on 8 April 2004.

Of the many awardees, Sgt. Malaco of the PC was awarded twice for “two separate demonstrations of rare gallantry,” one on 28 March 1907, the other on 05 July 1907 “against rebels in Lanao.”

The longest to wait for recognition of his heroic feat was MGenPaulino Santos. He was awarded the MFV in 1935, 18 years after his gallant acts against rebels as a young first lieutenant in Lanao in 1917.  Major Ferdinand E. Marcos was awarded the MFV in 1958 for his bravery and intrepidity against the Japanese in 1942, 16 years earlier.  Lt. Col. Jesus Antonio Villamor was given the MFV in 1954, 11 years after his acts of heroism from 1942 to 1942.

While these MFV awardees are rightly recognized as heroes, in Ben Cal’s book he lists what I consider also as heroes.  The sending of a “Civic Action Group consisting of engineer construction, medical and rural community development teams” with the motto – To build and not to destroy – in contrast to the combat troops sent by other Free World countries was a commendable and courageous move.  It won the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people who hailed the PHILCAG contingents as “Philuatan”, meaning “Filipino No. 1” as described by Ben Cal, a distinct honor no other Allied Forces had attained.

The list of honor includes former President Fidel V. Ramos, Hon. Renato de Villa, Hon. Eduardo Ermita, Gen. Lisandro Abadia, Gen. Clemente Mariano, Lt.Gen. Ismael Villareal, MGen.  Ernesto Calupig, MGen. Jose Lapus, MGen. Jose Magno Jr., MGen. Restituto Padilla Sr., MGen. Jose Maria Solquillo, BGen. Isidro Agunod (+), BGen. Quintin Alcudia, BGen. Jos Almonte, among others.

In contrasting the heroes of MFV and the heroes of PHILCAG 1 and 2, we who are in business can learn to appreciate that heroes are there who in the heat of corporate wars are able to build peace and harmony leading to the unity and progress of the industry.