MULTIMEDIA

Bravehearts: Marines in Marawi

Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2017 10:18 PM

In a place where no glimmer of light is supposed to escape, members of the Philippine Marines pause from their duties in the battle zone until their next mission at a small encampment enveloped with just the light of a candle throughout the night. 

The Maute terrorist group’s siege of Marawi that started on May 23, 2017 has proven to be a battle of grit and tactics. As troops arrive daily to join the battle to retake the Maranaos' indigenous land, many of the government’s forces endure long days and nights of fighting.

Up until end of May, the Maute terrorist group still had control of the area around Mapandi Bridge. It was not until the Marines took the area back on the first week of June that the extent of the damage the war brought on Marawi dawned on the troops.

From then on, small groups of government forces have moved closer and closer to the center of town, using this forward base in Mapandi. This is where they gather to be deployed to the main battle zone. 

Everyday, the men rise up early to prepare their munitions and get deployed to the next hot spot. Every night is a chance to recharge, catch up on much needed sleep, reconnect with loved ones via phone if signal permits, even as the night is punctuated by the rumble of firefight.

That is, until dawn breaks, and then they have go back to their weapons and recommit to their role as defenders of Marawi.

Dusk settles on the Philippine Marines' forward base somewhere in Mapandi, near the center of town where government forces and the Maute terrorist group are still battling for control of Marawi City. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Members of the Philippine Marines start and end their day here in the camp to regroup and fight another day on the front lines. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The battle-tested yet battle-weary soldiers get a much-needed rest in the camp to enable them to fight another day effectively. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The Marines settle down in their improvised camp. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

They also get to calm their nerves after all the fighting they have been through. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A good meal also awaits the Marines. They're a little better than their provisions in the field. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The town also settles as dusk sets in. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Night time in Marawi can always be broken by the sound of gunfire and bombs if fighting resumes throughout the night as both sides protect their bases. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

This is the only peaceful break the Marines can count on to reconnect with their loved ones back home. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The little light they have in the camp and the weak signal they can access are both treasured. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Light is kept to a minimum so soldiers make do and take advantage of the time they have to do this. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

With the break comes prayers to be able to survive the long ordeal of war. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Prayers and correspondence to someone high above as well as loved ones back home. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A Marine helps a fellow Marine groom himself before reentering the theater of war. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Jokes and light conversations mask the weariness before going to battle again. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The Marines meet together to plan their day ahead. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The day's task is studied before going back to the combat zone. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

After a quick equipment check, the Marines are back on the field. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Together with the war materials are implements to rest their weary souls. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

A last call to family or maybe a superior before breaking out on the field. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The Marines rely on each other to get thru the ordeal. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

And together, the proud Marines face the challenge to retake Marawi from the enemies. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Catch the replay of DI KA PASISIIL, The Marawi Documentary, on ABS-CBN Sunday's Best, August 20, 11:30 pm (after GGV); and on ANC Docu Hour, August 23, 8 pm.