Duty, legacy, and service: A soldierâs sacrifice for freedom and fatherhood
Medal of Valor awardees, Gen. Arturo Ortiz and Col. Ariel Querubin
Photo Release

Duty, legacy, and service: A soldier’s sacrifice for freedom and fatherhood

Ayie Licsi (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2021 - 8:00am

MANILA, Philippines — This June, the Philippines commemorated its 123rd year of independence, celebrating the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the cause. But the fight for freedom is a constant one that continues today with Filipinos making sure we keep on enjoying the liberty that we do.

Sacrifice is something soldiers are all too familiar with. These men and women have devoted themselves to protecting people and their freedom, no matter what the cost. Joining the military is a life-altering decision, after all—it takes courage and commitment.

Heeding the call of duty

For Col. Ariel Querubin, his love for the country led him to the call to duty. It’s also in his blood—great-grandfather, Capt. Apolinario Q. Querubin, served as a soldier, too. “As a young officer, armed with idealism and the fire of youth, I offered my life to defend this country from all its enemies that threaten its sovereignty and the well-being of its people,” the 2000 Medal of Valor awardee says.

Meanwhile, VAdm. Alexander Pama enlisted because he wanted to put his belief and convictions on the ideals of freedom to reality. It was a personal and professional fulfillment for him to be able to serve his country. “This was a calling that I readily embraced and lived through. It was a life with lots of ups and downs..” he shares. “In the performance of our duties and responsibilities, we did not exist in a vacuum for we had to co-exist with the people and society that we served.”

Gen. Arturo Ortiz, on the other hand, found his drive to serve from a deep sense of duty and a strong desire to leave a lasting legacy through his service. “When I took my oath as a soldier, I realized I embraced a noble profession committed to rendering dedicated and selfless service to my country. Along with this commitment is a sworn patriotic duty to protect and defend the country against all forces that threaten our sovereignty and the well-being of our citizenry,” the 1986 Medal of Valor awardee tells.

In answering this calling, these 1979 Philippine Military Academy mistahs have proven themselves in the field as leaders and men who are willing to put others first.

The highest of honors

No great deed in the military goes unrecognized. In the Philippines, soldiers who go above and beyond in their service, displaying great feats of personal bravery and self-sacrifice are bestowed with the Medal of Valor. This honor emphasizes how these servicemen are of a different caliber. The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) current Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana is decorated with the Medal of Valor himself.

“This rare and revered medal means so much. It has brought great pride and honor to me and my family,” says Gen. Ortiz. “It is priceless—an irreplaceable treasured possession of mine. This medal was a game-changer that defined my military career even beyond retirement.”

“The Medal of Valor means so much not only to me but also to my family—a true gift from the Lord,” shares Col. Querubin, who enjoys the many advantages of the medal aside from the prestige. This includes benefits in healthcare, welfare, education and employment.

Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, Former Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy.
Photo Release

Leaving a legacy

To serve the country is a great honor, and with their actions during their services, these men have created a legacy. But beyond that, they have another legacy that’s just as significant as their medals: their families.

As men in service, these fathers are stationed in different parts of the country to defend these areas, which takes them away from their families and loved ones. Managing work and family life is tough for soldiers as the job separates them from their families for over long periods. And as these mistahs have come to learn, fatherhood can require as much sacrifice as serving the country.

“I must admit, I was an absentee father. Most of my time was spent in the field and I would only get to see my family after one or two months. I have missed many important events in their lives like first communions, father and son nights, and even graduations,” tells Col. Querubin, a father of six sons and a daughter.

“It is really hard to be a good family man and at the same time, be an accomplished military man. In my case, I didn't spend enough time with my family. You can't even say that the few times I spent with them was good quality time. I might have excelled as a military man but I must admit I didn't fare well as a family man,” the Colonel shares.

“Generally, we give priority to our job over family concerns. More often than not, we are deprived of important family events such as wedding anniversaries and birthday occasions. When we adopted the profession of arms, we willingly submitted ourselves to an unwritten law of perpetual constraints. It takes just an order to unsettle and spoil a family event,” Gen. Ortiz says.

“When in the course of pursuing a progressive Naval career, I got married and started to raise a family. I eventually had two sons who are now adults and starting to have their own lives,” chronicles VAdm. Pama. “Looking back, balancing my Naval career and raising a family was the greatest challenge I had to go through in my life.”

“The priorities for me were clear, as much as I could, both stood on equal terms. On the one hand, I had to be true and loyal to my sworn duties as a military professional, and yet at the same time, I had the responsibilities and obligations to provide for the basic needs of my family, and most important of all, to provide the love, care, and protection to them. This balancing act was by no means an easy task,” he continues.

The duty of fatherhood

Col. Ariel Querubin with son, Cocolife president and CEO and 2018 ConCom member, lawyer Martin Loon in London, 2013
Photo Release

Most people look at their fathers as superheroes—strong and stoic. Generally, they are seen as figures of discipline but dads are more than just rocks, they can be great teachers, too. They will do what they can—providing and protecting—to make sure their children will live their lives to the fullest.

“My father taught me to be honest, hard-working, humble, and respectful. He also reminded me that in trying to excel, it should not be at the expense of others,” shares Col. Querubin. “Being a dad gives you the pride of being a leader, a supporter, and a teacher. You are responsible for all the needs of your family. You are expected to ensure that your children will be equipped with all the things needed to be successful in their careers and all aspects of life—physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Meanwhile, Gen. Ortiz imparts as many lessons as he can to his seven sons, most of which are rooted in his military regiment such as: “that they be men of character, men of honor, to always do the right thing, to strive to excel in every endeavor, and to make a difference. Success is earned and not given for free. It requires a lot of sacrifice and effort, but the greater the effort, the sweeter the success.”

“Seeing my sons develop and become the persons I have desired, worked, and sacrificed for while at the same time having had a successful military career is more than what I could ask for in life,” VAdm. Pama tells.

Creating a bright future for their families

People in the military continue to fight for our country’s freedom to create a better and safer place for their children and the future generation to live in. Gen. Ortiz hopes to see his seven sons grow up in “a well-developed and progressive world where everyone is well educated, possesses the right values, has well-developed talents and skills, has access to abundant resources—a place where people live in total peace and harmony.”

Meanwhile, Col. Querubin has these hopes for his children: “I want my children to grow up in a safe, peaceful and happy, family-oriented world where everyone is treated equally and has access to good public education and advanced health care systems. A world where everyone lives in peace and harmony, with contentment and with no coronavirus in the midst.”

“To be blessed with an opportunity to have a successful life of service and also succeed in raising a family and sons who will be part of a nation that will reap the fruits and benefits of what I have worked and sacrificed as a Naval officer and a father is, for me, the ultimate reward I have gained and consider to be my most significant achievement in life,” concludes VAdm. Pama.

Being a soldier and a father isn’t all that different after all, in fact, most soldiers are fathers. In both respects, a man puts other people’s needs and safety above his, whether it’s his family’s or his fellow freedom fighters’. These two callings also require a man to be ready and be willing to make sacrifices to protect the future of those he cares for. And most of all, fatherhood and military service stem out of love—for his children and for his country.

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