MANILA - Troops who sacrificed their lives fighting Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi City have inspired cadet soldiers who will one day take their place in the front lines.
"We idolize them because of their bravery po because not all of the people are capable of being in front of those insurgent to fight for the freedom of our country," Cadet First Class Sebastian Kirby Buzon of the Philippine Military Academy said in an interview with "Umagang Kay Ganda."
"We salute them po," added PMA's Cadet First Class Jaywardene Hontario, brigade commander of the Armed Forces' Cadet Cops.
Both cadets said they were willing to serve the country, even as over a month of fighting left scores of soldiers dead.
"Kung ano man po iyung kahihinatnan namin sa career namin, palagi po naming iniisip na this is what we have sworn po. Wala na pong atrasan iyun," said Hontario, who is set to graduate with Buzon in March 2018.
(Whatever happens in our career, we always bear in mind that this is our sworn duty. There's no turning back.)
Cadet First Class Micah Reynaldo said the fighting was "an avenue to showcase the heroism of every soldier."
As of July 9, 507 people have been killed in the nearly 2 month-long battle for Marawi, including 89 state troops.
Those who aspire to follow the footsteps of the fallen soldiers may take the PMA entrance examinations on August 20.
Applicants should be high school graduates with an average grade of at least 85 percent, single, aged 17 to 21, and at least 5" tall, according to PMA spokesman Lt. Col. Reynaldo Balido, Jr.