CALAMBA CITY — Amid the festive crowd and guests in barong and formal dress during the celebration of the 157th birth anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal last June, a lone soldier in gray camouflage Army uniform and a black beret quietly sat, squared and refined, seemingly unaffected by the general celebratory mood.
Corporal Jaffee O. Amisola of the 9th Scout Ranger Company, First Scout Ranger Regiment of the Philippine Army, is one of two who received the Gawad Buhayani award at Rizal’s ancestral home, now Museo ni Rizal, for his service during the battle of Marawi City in 2017. Gawad Buhayani is given to Calamba natives who excel in their respective fields and exhibit the values and ideals of Rizal.
Amisola was born on March 21, 1984, in Camp Vicente Lim in Barangay Mayapa in this city. The 34-year-old joined the Army in 2003, when he was barely 20 years old. His first assignment as a soldier was in Cavinti and was later deployed to the Sierra Madre mountains and the Bicol Region, after attending the Scout Ranger School.
Amisola was stationed in Basilan when the Marawi conflict erupted in May 2017. A month later, he and his company were called upon to support the units that were already in Marawi.
Two months into battle, on August 14, Amisola was with his team inside the main battle area. Their objective was to take over a building that was quite large and were having some difficulty. “When we went around the other side, we had to pass by a road— that’s where I was hit,” Amisola said, his speech a bit slurred.
“I was hit by an M14 rifle [bullet]. It entered here on my shoulder, exited my clavicle, that’s why it’s broken,” Amisola said as he pointed to his broken right collarbone. “The bullet entered my neck and tore through my tongue. It really took a hit. The bullet exited my cheekbone, upward,” he said.
Already injured, Amisola tried to make it across the open road because he knew he was going to be hit again by the next shot. He made it inside a garage of a house before collapsing. “I didn’t know what happened next,” he said.
Amisola said images of his family flashed before him — his mother, his father, his wife, his children. I’m dead, he thought, but he didn’t want to die yet. He thought to himself that he needed to fight, to open his eyes, and to scream so he could revive himself.
“So maybe after around 10 minutes, I came back. I was able to open my eyes, to scream. But I had difficulty screaming because I was suffocating from all the blood that was in my mouth,” Amisola said. His comrades managed to revive him somehow, he said. Amisola has had seven surgeries: one for his broken clavicle, two tracheostomies, and four tongue surgeries.
Amisola is assigned at the headquarters of the First Scout Ranger Regiment of the Philippine Army in Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan, at least 400 kilometers away from his 28-year-old wife Sarah and his two kids Jann Lexie, 13, and Jann Cristine, nine, in Bicol.
Amisola appreciates the recognition but said that individuals like the late Captain Rommel Sandoval, a Scout Ranger who died in Marawi saving another soldier, are the ones who deserve the honor for their heroism. “It was a call of duty. I’m grateful that Calamba City recognized my service when I fought for the freedom of Marawi,” Amisola said.
In their own way, ordinary people can be heroes, too, Amisola said. “Just do what is right. We don’t need to be shot in Luneta to be a hero.” (Laguna Now)