My Father, my Hero
Benjie Bensing – Tripoli, Libya
I remember my father as a soldier. He is tough, yet soft-spoken; he is solid, yet cuddly and warm. He seldom smiles but when he does his eyes twinkle with life.
He used to tell me stories about the Japanese occupation and his experiences in the Philippine Army. He joined the army as a Private First class during the second world war. He was non-combatant. He drives a military truck delivering medicines, food and other supplies and transporting soldiers and non-combatants alike to the battlefront.
There were nights when he would recount stories about USAFFE; stories about the bravery and heroism of Filipino and American troops in Bataan and Corregidor, stories about the American General Jonathan Wainwright whom he saw twice, or, stories of extreme human survival in the infamous Death March. He was one of those who marched. Sometimes he would talk and talk and I’d be listening, lost in the past.
In brief moments of silence and ocassional gasps for air, I can feel the searing pain of loss. He is honoring the memory of the gallant men and women – those that fell on that hallowed ground of human sacrifice; those whom he fought side by side with in the foxholes of Bataan and in the tunnels of Corregidor. Together, they were formidable: their blood spilled, their bodies shred to pieces by Japanese bombs and bayonets, yet their spirits remain undaunted and their will unbroken.
Through the bloody haze of gunfire and eerie shrieks of siren in the distance, they were fighting for freedom. They are willing to fight for their country until the last drop of blood, willing to sacrifice their lives and their sacred dignity so that their children can live free.
That is why he is my hero.