FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City- The National Reservist Week kicks off today, September 8, with several activities lined up showcasing the reserve force of the AFP.
One of the highlights of this year’s celebration is a grand symposium at the Armed Forces General Headquarters in Quezon City with the Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie D. Dellosa, among the distinguished guests.
A parade was conducted at the Camp Aguinaldo Grandstand, followed by a Kinetic and Static Display featuring the capabilities of the so-called 'weekend warriors'.
The citizen soldiers, most popularly known as reservists, have been an integral part of the AFP defense and have been the frontrunners of socio-economic development efforts.
Over the years, they have proven their worth in peacekeeping, nation-building and crisis management as well as the ready-reserve force that can be mobilized during the time of war.
It is in no doubt that the reservists have established a name in a league of their own as unsung heroes providing true public service for the country and its people.
An Army Reservist’s Dream Come True
Among those men who not only give their time and effort to serve this country without expecting anything in return, is Lieutenant Colonel Herbert M. Bautista, the Brigade Commander of the 1502nd Brigade under the National Capital Region-Regional Community Defense Group.
Although Bautista grew up as a child actor in the 70’s, he shared that it has always been his dream to become a soldier.
“It was back in high school when I realized I wanted to be a soldier. I wanted to study at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), but it wasn’t possible because I was already an actor then."
He went on to finish his studies at the San Beda College and he later found himself in the political arena when he became the Vice Mayor of Quezon City in 1995.
“When I became vice mayor, I was made a Sergeant Major of a Light Armor Brigade, that started the fulfillment of my dream,” he said.
From then on, his rank advanced from by virtue of his elective position and in 1999, he enrolled in the National Defense College of the Philippines and graduated in 2000 prompting his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel by virtue of the law.
Bautista, as a Brigade Commander in Quezon City for three years now, leads two battalions which are active most especially during disaster response and relief operations.
“Our presence is most felt during disasters. We are what you can call the first responders,” Bautista said.
Bautista shared that during the recent onslaught of “Habagat”, he deployed 250 troops throughout Quezon City. In their own simple ways, they were able to help residents who were affected by the massive flooding.
To properly address the needs of Quezon City and for the brigade to be more responsive in times of crisis, Bautista intends to add a fully equipped battalion.
“I acknowledge that it’s going to be a slow process, but it will be worth it as I believe in the capabilities of the battalion,” he said.
The 1502nd Brigade has satellite offices scattered all over Quezon City, one of which is located at the Quezon City Hall. Among its regular activities is the training conducted every Sunday in Camp Aguinaldo.
Importance of being a Reservist
Bautista who has been in the reserve force for 17 years now, revealed how the military changed him into a better person.
“The first thing I learned was to value time. I remember our training back then with Gen. Gutang. When he says to be there at a certain time, you have to be there on that time, not a minute late and not a minute early. If you’re a minute early, you could be ambushed or things like that, if you’re a minute late, the person you should be meeting might leave and worse could get ambushed, too. So timing is very essential. One must learn its value so good things could happen,” he said.
During their training, Bautista was assigned as a 'sweeper' who stays at the rear of the file formation during mock patrols. He said that in those training instructions, he learned the value of team work.
“I was always the person behind who would clean the tracks. All the while I thought it was just a janitorial job for someone who stays at the back, but then I’ve learned how important my role was. It is essential so the troop wouldn’t be followed by our adversaries. The sweepers are the ones in the troop who secures the rear and erase the traces of the soldiers' presence. There must always be teamwork. You work as a unit, you work as an individual but part of a bigger unit, each and everyone has a role to play.”
He also shared how he incorporates what he learns from the military into his actions as a local chief executive.
Bautista imparted, “Watching your back, making sure that everything is in order, completing staff work before you decide, planning, programming, the use of proper legislation and timing – these are the very essentials in which one way or the other I learned from going to military training and one way or the other I apply here in Quezon City.”
Encouraging More to be Part of the Reserve Force
A number of government employees are also reservists. Bautista even mentioned that this includes most of the barangay officials in Quezon City. He also stressed the importance of reservists visiting barangays with their uniforms on.
“It lures people’s curiosity. Once you explain to them what the reservists do, they are encouraged to join and be part of it too. Secondly, it also brings men in uniform closer to the public,” Bautista pointed out.
He also encourages more people to join and help with its mission, especially those in the private sectors with expertise.
“Engineers, doctors, nurses, those who know first aid, those who want to serve and everyone who is interested, we encourage you. The more people we encourage, the better for our force.”
Being a reservist is not a daunting thing to do. In fact, Bautista even disclosed how fulfilling this job is for him personally.
”Here in Quezon City, rescue operations are prevalent. It’s a very enriching action when you get to sacrifice your life for others. It’s the best feeling. Just like what most people say, it is a heroic deed when you don’t expect anything in return. You just want the person or the family to live. That’s it. That’s the reason we’re here and it’s the biggest fulfillment,” he shared.
A Message to the Reservists
With the celebration of the National Reservist Week, Lt. Col. Herbert M. Bautista gave a message to his colleagues in the reserve force.
“To all reservists, I salute you! What you’re contributing to the Philippine society is already an immense thing without expecting anything in return. Let’s do our best to widen the reach of volunteerism and the Bayanihan. Another thing, let’s not abuse our positions. Wearing a military uniform doesn’t give us the right to do so. We should be more humble when wearing the uniform. And to those who are planning to join the force, please do so. This is a respectable organization where you will learn so much. You may encounter challenges but these are all part of the job. What you should always remember is that we should willingly share and give our love for this country and lend a hand to our countrymen,” concluded Bautista.
Lt Col Herbert Bautista (Res) poses for a souvenir photo with the officers of the National Capital Region- Regional Community Defense Group (NCRRCDG), ARESCOM, PA.