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Amidst Typhoon "Ondoy"
A GENERAL SURRENDERS HIS STAR
By: LTC LYNDON J SOLLESTA CE(GSC) PA
565th Engineer Construction Battalion, 51Ebde, PA
Tropical Storm “Ondoy”, the most devastating storm that brought heavy rains, flooding and ultimately crippled the National Capital Region (NCR) which for a significant period of time, also brought tales of heroism, unprecedented sacrifice, iron-will, faith and unimaginable courage.
The Commanding General of the Army’s 51st Engineer Brigade surrenders his star . . . to the Virgin Mary amidst the wrath of typhoon “Ondoy”. When flood waters already reached devastating level, BGEN FELIZARDO SIMOY AFP went to the already flooded Grotto of the Virgin Mary located inside the Headquarters, 51EBde at Camp Atienza, Libis, Quezon City and uttered short and simple prayer. The General known for his warrior spirit and bravery in combat back in Mindanao Campaign era, expressed in a very meek and humble tone, “sana po wag ng umabot sa mukha ni Mama Mary ang tubig”.
The grotto of Mama Mary was located at an area about five(5) meters higher than the normal water level of Marikina River. At the height of flooding, the river swelled more than five meters submerging entire communities along the river banks and its environs, sweeping houses and trapping people on rooftops. Every increase of even a few inches after that, becomes catastrophic that equates to life or death to them. General Simoy mustered his personnel and equipment to assist in rescue operations, an action done by a responsible Commander.
But as the enormity of the disaster persistently increase and he watched helplessly as flood waters continue to rise, the General guided by his strong faith in our Lord made him beg for divine intervention to save lives. True indeed, the flood stopped few inches before reaching Mama Mary’s face. Miracle comes from simple and wholehearted prayers.
In the thanksgiving mass celebrated on Oct 4, 2009, BGEN SIMOY expressed to the troops his ‘sadness’ and ‘thanks’ for what happened. Sadness for it will take the less fortunate considerable time to recover and go back to their normal lives, and Thanks that even with the magnitude of the disaster majority was spared from fatal outcomes. The mass also coincided with the Celebration of Holy Matrimony, wherein he also emphasized the sanctity of marriage, for soldiers to spend quality time with their wife & family, and follow a righteous path in their daily life.