How Marines spend time in Ayungin Shoal


BRP-Sierra-Madre-marines-with-BinayManila, Philippines – After five months of doing nothing but “diving, fishing, and DVD marathon” in the middle of the West Philippine Sea, they are still willing to be deployed anew on Ayungin Shoal to protect the country’s sovereignty.

“Walang problema, anytime. Talagang tungkulin yan,” First Lieutenant Mike C. Pelotera, leader of the nine Philippine Marines who manned the BRP Sierra Madre, said without hesitation in an interview.

Pelotera and five of his men, now shaven and sporting a military haircut, paid a courtesy call on Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, a Marine reservist, at the Coconut Palace in Pasay City last Thursday.

With him were Sgt. Edwin M. Galvan, Corporal Rogelio A. Tabilisma, Private First Class Mario Jerlene L. Pajarillo, Technical Sgt. Julio P. Ventoza, and Technical Sgt. Joselito D. Panganiban. Corporal Sheffrey T. Luna, Private First Class Ryan O. Esteban, and Sgt. Rey A. Sarmiento had to attend to other commitments.

The nine Marines drew praise from no less than President Aquino during the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan last Wednesday for manning the BRP Sierra Madre which is grounded on the territory being claimed by China.

Pelotera and his men are on a two-week break before returning to their mother unit, the Marine Battalion Landing Team Southern Palawan.

Pelotera, 30, from General Santos City, said that from November 12 last year to March 31, this year, they had nothing to do at the rusty BRP Sierra Madre but fish, dive, and watch DVDs.

A radio communication system and satellite phones were their only means of communications, he said.

Mobile phones could only be used for playing built-in games, the 48-year-old Ventoza, said.

At times, they would swap DVDs with fishermen passing by the area, he shared. “Kung hindi, pabalik balik na lang,” Ventoza, an Ilonggo, added.

Pelotera said they had to make do with their supply of 200-300 liters of fresh water for one week.

“Ang fresh water for drinking purposes lang. Huwag na gumamit ng fresh water pag maliligo,” he said.

Their fresh water supply was air-dropped once a week, he said. “Pag magsasaing, pang-isang araw na para tipid din sa tubig,” a laughing Ventoza said while sharing their water-saving tips.

For five months, Ventoza said they had to keep themselves busy to ward off sadness.

Despite the hardships they had to go through, Pelotera said they have no qualms to be deployed on Ayungin anew if ordered.

After all, as Marines, they are trained to endure such conditions, he said.

“Mind-setting lang bago pumasok,” he said as he thanked his wife for being supportive of his work.

One Response. Have your say.

  1. pat Talens says:

    Wow new brand of Philippine heroes—do nothing but diving, fishing, watching DVD’s over and over.

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