Monday, July 26, 2010


Senate Mouthful – Pamsy Tioseco Journal July 31, 1999

"Come over and make us laugh, my men are so disoriented here in Manila," so appealed Col. Warlito Sayam, then 5th GHQ Battalion, whole entire unit was airlifted from Zamboanga during the time of the attempted coups against the Aquino administration to protect television installations all over the National Capital Region from renegade forces.

The high command, unable to distinguish among the ranks who were for the government and who for the rebels, decided to airlift to Manila an entire battalion just to protect these powerful mass media equipment.

"My men are used to the mountains; but here in Manila they are lost. I had to go to National Bookstore just to buy a map because they did not know where Channel 4 or 7 was. "

"One of my men who entered Shoemart didn’t even know how to get out till he decided to tail a family whom he was certain would later go home."

It was on behalf of Col. Sayam’s men that, one evening just after Senate sessions had ended, I approached then Senator Raul Manglapus who, prior to his being appointed secretary of Foreign Relatins by then President Corazon Aquino, was the Senate’s chairman of the committee on National Defense and Security.

Sen. Manglapus didn’t really know me.

I introduced myself as a staffmember of another senator and told him that I had an appeal from Col. Sayam and his men.

"Sir, they are not asking for an increase in pay or a pat on the back but blankets, even used ones, because it could be very chilly at night, up in the Sierra Madre mountains where some of the television facilities, which they need to protect, are located." I had to summon all my courage and keep my fingers crossed as I relayed the matter to the late Senator.

"How many men are they?" Sen. Manglapus asked me."

"Nine hundred, sir," I answered . And that was it.

"I will see what I can do, " were his parting words.

A few days later, Col. Sayam called me up profuse of gratitude because apparently, not only did 900 brand new blankets arrive in their camp but also 900 folding beds!

Maring Feria, an officer from the Office of Senator Manglapus, explained that the Senator told his prayer group about the request of the soldiers and a nun went to Col. Sayam’s camp and asked the first soldier she saw at the camp entrance: "Where do you sleep?"

"On the floor, but the lucky ones who can afford it have folding beds," the soldier replied.

A few more questions apparently convinced the Sister of the needs of the 5th GHQ Battalion’s soldiers.

"Some of my men were in tears as they received the blankets because they felt the assistance and conern of government for them and their responsibilities and mission," Col. Sayam enthused.

"They felt they were really being warmly welcomed in Manila, and now are certainly more spirited and committed to fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, " Col. Sayam added.

"Guess where Senator Manglapus was earlier," Maring Feria greeted me one afternoon a couple of weeks thereafter at the Senate Session Hall.

"He went Col. Sayam’s camp and brought rice, chess sets and volleyballs and he was really happy about the experience with the soldiers."

A few days ago, Senator Manglapus’s remains were brought back to the halls of the Senate and his esteemed colleagues …….

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