A simple welcome for a Marawi hero
BAGUIO CITY—No funfare, no welcome committee except for his wife, his brother and two children who greeted him as he alighted from the bus over the week.
This may be an ordinary scene in a bus terminal, it was a simple welcome for a soldier who saved lives of children and women during the Marawi siege, he was a hero of the war.
Army Captain Jeffrey “Jeff” Buada, is commanding officer of the 15th Scout Ranger Company “Mandirigma”, of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment, and a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 2007.
Buada gained popularity after his photo rescuing and carrying a child (a Maute terrorist hostage) into safety was posted over social media and gained thousands of likes and was shared a thousand times.
In the middle of the firefight, Buada on Oct. 19 ordered a cease fire, removed his helmet, body armor and laid his firearm. Without protection, he approached an enemy lair, despite protests from the troops, he negotiated with the terrorists to set free the children and women they were holding as hostages, and allow the soldiers to bring the wounded to the hospital.
No shots were fired from 11:00 a.m until almost 4:00 p.m. when a shot was fired, fighting resumed, but this time, the hostages were already moved to safety.
“I had to do it, I had to ease the tension to save the children’” Buada said, when asked why he had to remove his protection that time.
I got reminded of my children, when I saw those being held hostage, he said.
The child in the picture that circulated in the social media sites was as old as his daughter, 4.
Earlier, he was quoted, “But my thought was if I die, at least we got the hostages,”
“It was a come-what-may situation. It was painful to see them in that situation and just leave them there,” he further said.
Earlier, this May, during the earlier days into the Marawi siege, Buada was injured when a bullet hit his knee.
While recovering in the hospital, he was earlier quoted by the media saying “I just hope maka-recover ako agad para makabalik and join my troops ulit sa battlefield.” Upon recovery, he did so.
Premonition and anxieties of a wife
On the day he saved the hostages, Buada’s wife said she received a call from her sister-in-law. The sister-in-law asked her, how Jeff (nickname of Buada) was, she then informed that the picture frame of Jeff fell from the wall of their ancestral house in Pangasinan and that the glass was shattered.
Worried, Malou, Jeff’s wife tried to get in touch with her husband immediately, but to no avail. Being a bit superstitious, she found herself crying and praying for the safety of Jeff throughout the day.
It was in the late afternoon, that Malou was able to talk with Jeff personally and he said everything was alright and he was safe. Jeff did not mention the incident that just happened earlier.
It was only when Malou received text messages and private messages through social media that she knew of her husband’s heroism. Jeff’s picture was now viral and circulated in the social media (and later picked up by the mainstream media).
Tears again rolled down her eyes, when she saw the picture, being thankful for Jeff’s safety, she felt mixed emotions.
Admittedly, she felt a bit bad, she said, there were messages of condolence, she added. “They did not read through the whole article, they assumed right away that the outcome of what they saw in the picture was bad. She had to tell each of them that Jeff is well and is safe.
Aside from the stress she felt that day Jeff’s picture fell, Malou said. A wife of a soldier is more difficult more in times of war, “we talk over the phone almost every night, however, will he (Jeff) be there to say good night the next day”? she added.
A simple vacation in the arms of his loved ones
Buada was expected to arrive midnight of Tuesday, May 7, however his arrival was two hours delayed as the traffic situation from the Pasay bus station to NLEX was slow. Waiting in the bus terminal for him was his two children aged 11 and 4, his wife, his brother, a team from a local television network and this writer.
Upon arrival in the bus terminal, he was surprised that his children were there to welcome him, his first child only could hug his father upon seeing him, she however prepared a cartolina colored with the words “Welcome Home Daddy!!”.
Excited to see her dad, she failed to do what she rehearsed, she failed to unfurl the welcome sign, crying and happy, she immediately hugged her father. Surprised that his kids were there to welcome him, Jeff could not hold his tears and hugged his kids and wife.
“It is our simple way of surprising Jeff,” Malou said. Usually, Jeff would arrive while the kids are sleep and would surprise them with his arrival. This time we had to meet him upon arrival,” she added.
After a brief interview with the media, Jeff is now home with his family, ready to spend private time with them… till his next call of duty. **larry madarang