Slain soldier wanted to become AFP chief
PULILAN, Bulacan , Philippines – Early in his career as a military officer, 1Lt. Florencio Mikael Meneses aimed high, planning to study law so he could achieve star rank and become Armed Forces general or even, why not, a senator.
Meneses was inspired by the career trajectories of Senators Gregorio Honasan and Antonio Trillanes III.
All these dreams, aimed at making his family proud, were cut short Monday when he was felled by a sniper’s bullet.
Meneses was among three Army officers killed in action against members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City.
Meneses’ mother Regina said her son still achieved his greatest dream: making his family proud.
On Thursday, President Aquino and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. came to pay their respects to the fallen soldier.
“We are very proud of you, you made us very proud,” Regina said before her son’s coffin after the President left.
Aquino spent about 20 minutes paying his respects to Meneses and consoling the bereaved family.
While the President’s conversation with the family could barely be heard, it was evident that the visit helped blunt the family’s pain of losing an only son now considered a hero.
“He was planning to take up a law degree as a step toward his dream of becoming a general,” she said.
Regina said her son’s dreams surprised her.
“I told him, your dreams are too high, but he said, everything is possible,” she said.
Call of duty
Soldiers whose parents had served in the military often face the pressure of meeting certain expectations.
In the case of retired police general Roberto Damian, he found himself in a dilemma after learning that his son, Army 1Lt. Francis Damian, would be deployed to the battle zone in Zamboanga City.
The father in Roberto wanted his son to take a vacation since he had just arrived from airborne training at Fort Magsaysay.
The soldier in Roberto, however, wanted his son to answer the call of duty. Little did Roberto know that the call would abruptly end his son’s promising military career.
“Ingat ka anak (Stay safe, son). This is an endgame. (It will be a) clearing (operation). That was my last statement before we parted,” Roberto said.
Like a junior officer reporting to a superior, Francis would send text messages containing situational reports to his father.
Francis, a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s Class 2007, was not able to see the end of the conflict that he wanted to help stabilize. – With Alexis Romero, Jess Diaz