Sharing the same story with many nurses in the Philippines, Rey entered nursing school though it was his last option. It’s common for Filipinos to be forced by folks to take up nursing. But his was a story of liberty to choose the course of his choice, on one condition: abandon his military ambition.
It Runs in the Family
Rey was fond of watching war movies growing up. He imagined himself as part of the films and reenacted some scenes during play. Back then, he was purely entertained by the soldiers’ cool moves and heroic acts. It never crossed his mind that what started out as admiration would evolve into his great aspiration.
It was in high school that Rey learned about his uncle’s active service as a scout ranger of the Armed Forces. His cousin was also planning to enter the Air Force. In that moment, Rey realized he never outgrew his childhood dream. As he was graduating from highschool and despite the doubts of getting any support, he expressed his desire to enter the Philippine Military Academy to his family.
As he expected, his family strongly disapproved. They were understandably afraid. “You’ll only waste your life,” his mother said. His family urged him to take any course he’d like except the military. Left with no choice and a heavy heart, he obeyed.
He took his chance in marine engineering, architecture, and electronic and communications engineering. Unfortunately, he missed the placement exams for marine engineering and architecture. He didn’t get shortlisted for electronics and communications engineering. Nursing was at the bottom of his list. In fact, it was a decision made on a whim after his friends spurred him to take the placement examination.
A Ray of Hope
Rey passed the nursing placement exam. The mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps was abolished in 2002, along with his chance to experience military training. Rey eventually got bored with nursing school to a point that his clinical instructor grew concerned with his performance. After opening up, his instructor urged him to take nursing seriously and pass the licensure examination so he can join the Military Nurse Corps. It was then that he began to see things in a different light.
When he finally processed his papers for the reserve force years later, he was unwittingly backed by the region’s Commanding Officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command (AFPRESCOM). The AFPRESCOM is a technical branch of the AFP composed of medical professionals, lawyers, engineers, and chaplains. The officer immediately facilitated his application and health examination.
His excitement wore off when he had to tell his parents about his plan. He was old enough to decide and has secured his license, but he was still unsure of his parents’ reactions. Luckily Rey’s cousin from the Air Force went home and offered him his support. Together they explained to Rey’s parents that being a reservist isn’t as dangerous compared to active personnel. After hours of explaining and pleading, his folks finally gave Rey their blessing.
A Man with a Mission
Nurse Rey has joined plenty of medical missions organized by the army in the city and in remote areas. While threats aren’t common, he had been in a situation that almost turned hostile. Together with active soldiers, they braved rocky roads, valleys, and mountains to reach a far-flung community in need of medical aid. Mid-way through their mission, they were advised to pull out early because of an imminent security threat. An intel report came that rebels were monitoring their activities and were setting up for an ambush.
Rey knew scenarios like this were likely to happen. They were trained for this and were repeatedly told to never let their guard down. But Rey was anxious and was beginning to fear for his life. “It was nerve-wracking,” he said, “but I never doubted or regretted joining the army. I’m always happy after our medical missions especially when people appreciate our efforts in serving them.” When asked if he ever see himself working in the combat zone, “my answer to your question,” he began , “would be a Bible verse from the movie Hacksaw Ridge that goes I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for them?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am, send me.’”
Despite facing strong opposition from his loved ones, he refused to raise the white flag. He chose nursing for love of his family. For five years now, he answered his call of duty for the love of his country.