Slain officer helped parents sell rice cakes to support studies
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2015 - 5:29pm

MANILA, Philippines - 1Lt. Ronald Bautista, the young officer who was killed in an ambush by communist rebels in Compostela Valley last December 29, almost failed to get a diploma.

A son of a chainsaw operator and a housewife, Ronald had to help his parents sell rice cakes to make both ends meet.

The small business only earned about P100 per day, an amount that had to be stretched to provide the needs of Ronald and his seven siblings.

Ronald, then a high school student at the Nabuad National High School in Bohol, had to make do with a P3 daily allowance.

“He (Ronald) could only afford to buy bread. He just drank water from the artesian well,” Ronald’s father Eulogio was quoted by Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc as saying.

Eulogio could not speak fluent Filipino so The STAR asked him questions through Cabunoc.

But money problems did not dampen Ronald’s determination to finish his studies and to help his parents.

Known to his loved ones as “Onad,” Ronald had to juggle his studies and preparing rice cakes, which required hours of manual labor.

He had to double his efforts. He was aware that financial constraints would make it hard for his parents to send him to college. He knew that he had to finish his studies so he could help his family with its financial difficulties. Failure was clearly not an option for him.

Ronald’s efforts paid off as he finished high school in 2003.

His financial woes, however, remained while he was studying agricultural engineering at the Central Mindanao University in Bukidnon.

Ronald started treading the path towards military service when he was convinced to take the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) entrance exam in 2006.

His uncle, Reynaldo Sidon, informed him about the perks of being a PMA cavalier like scholarship and allowances. Reynaldo’s nephew, Clemente, is a member of PMA class 2010 and is now an Army lieutenant. 

It was a win-win solution for Ronald. If he enters the academy, he would not have to worry about his tuition and he would be able to send some money home.

As a cadet, Ronald saved his allowances and gave it to his parents, who then used them to support the studies of his other siblings. Thanks to his being frugal, Ronald was able to help his brother Gelo finish his computer studies in Bohol.  

Ronald may be hard on himself but he was generous to his family. The young lieutenant had wanted to act as Santa Claus in a New Year’s Eve reunion held in Nabanga, Bohol.

"At about 6 a.m. on December 29, he called his mom to tell that he will bring gifts for his parents and each of his seven siblings," Eulogio was quoted by Cabunoc as saying.

"He was very generous and kind to all of us," he added.

The reunion pushed through but it wasn’t a happy one. In fact, it was the saddest one for the Bautista family.

"We did not expect that he (Ronald) he will come home in a coffin during our reunion," Eulogio said.

Ronald was one of the government troopers killed in an attack staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mabini Compostela Valley last December 29.

Ronald, Pfc. Albert Amor and government militia man Renel Baluc were on board a motorcycle when rebels blocked their path and shot them dead along the road in Barangay Candinuyan at around 9:45 a.m.

Officials said Ronald and his companions may have caught the ire of the NPA because they were involved in community development activities.

Eulogio and his wife Chona were harvesting rice when they heard about the sad news.

The ambush abruptly ended Ronald's military career, which started after he graduated from PMA in 2011.

Despite the loss, Ronald’s parents are consoled by the fact that their son lived a brief yet meaningful life.

“We are honored to have a faithful soldier in our family who readily offers personal sacrifices in the service of others," Eulogio said.

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