First published on the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 07 August 2017. (This is the letter of tribute I wrote during the Marawi Siege, which took place in 2017.)
Dear Honorable Soldier,
I may not know you personally, but I would like to give you my deepest and sincerest gratitude for all the things you had to give up just to make me live the safest and most comfortable life possible.
While I rant about how terrible my boss and work were for the day, there you are not complaining even a single thing about how tedious and dangerous the battle you have to fight every single time in Marawi.
While I make a big deal and feel sad about how far my Rizal residence is from my boyfriend’s Cavite hometown, there you are miles apart from your family, wife, children, or significant other, clutching and looking at their photos as if you won’t have another sunrise to see them again.
While I complain how terrible the food is in the cafeteria or nearby resto, there you are savoring your meal as if it were your last.
Honorable Soldier, no matter how high my salary and accomplishments are right now, it will never be commensurate with what you are doing for me, my family, and our country.
As your fellow countryman who can’t help but just watch and wait as you and your comrades redeem Marawi, I can only hope that you’d be able to endure the last stretch and final blow. May your bravery, courage, and might, alongside your battle gear, augment the firepower that shall liberate Marawi.
I just want you to know that I, together with the rest of the Philippines, got your back while you go to the warfront to risk your life to defend us. We shall prepare for your return with open arms and loving hearts.
For the lack of a more encompassing expression, I say, thank you! Thank you, even though such words will never be enough to compensate what you have lost and will lose. Thank you, even though this will never be sufficient to take care of the family you left behind as you set forth two months ago to fight this battle. Thank you, even though it can never match what you and your men have done for this country.
As you are nearing your return, I want you to forge me a promise. Promise me that you will live until the day you are in your family’s arms again. Promise me that you will live in order to see that day, when we have our Marawi once again. Promise me that you will live so you can tell us your stories of pain and sorrow alongside your courage, bravery, and triumph.
Thank you, Honorable Soldier. I hope to meet you soon.
Nothing but respect and admiration,
MARIA KRISTINA D. SIUAGAN