MANILA -- Members of the Philippine Marines who were deployed at Ayungin Shoal, collectively known as the "Ayungin 9," on Monday shared their experience while on duty on board the BRP Sierra Madre.
In an interview on "[email protected]," 1st Lt. Mike Pelotera and Sgt. Edwin Galvan said they initially welcomed their deployment with excitement, but it soon wore off.
"After 2 months, medyo pumapasok na yung loneliness sa bawat isa. Ako naman, as officer-in-charge, ayoko mangyari yung ganoon. Kaya dina-divert ko, gumagawa kami ng libangan," said Pelotera.
Galvan said they were given food supplies enough for a 3-month deployment.
Their supply consisted mostly of canned goods, instant noodles, and other non-perishable items.
However, when their deployment lasted longer than planned, they had to stretch their supply of drinking water, and had to augment their meals with fish from the waters of the shoal.
They also waited for airdrops of much-needed supplies. However, there were unforseen incidents, like when their supply of razors fell into the sea.
"One time na may re-supply, nagrequest kami ng personal na gamit namin, yung pang-shave. Nung isang beses, hindi maganda yung pagkaka-airdrop, nasira. Nabasa ng seawater yung mga razor, eh maalat. Kinabukasan, may kalawang na," Pelotera said.
The Ayungin 9 also experienced harassment from the Chinese Coast Guard in the area.
Pelotera said that he cannot forget the night of March 28, when they saw 7 Chinese vessels circling the shoal.
"Nung March 28, night time, we sighted 7 China Coast Guard vessels, pero yung 4 doon, unidentified bow number. Naka-encircle sila sa amin, nade-determine namin sila sa ilaw ng vessel nila. Sa amin, kung dumating talaga sa ganoong time, up to the last man standing na talaga."
They were overjoyed when they finally returned home and were reunited with their families and friends.
Pelotera and Galvan are hoping for a peaceful resolution of the dispute between China and the Philippines.
"Sa akin, sana maresolba na yung issue, through peaceful means, maresolba na. Para hindi na makaencounter yung ibang troops na madeploy doon noong na-encounter namin."