MANILA – Matteo Guidicelli admitted his family and his girlfriend Sarah Geronimo weren’t too keen about his desire to undergo the 30-day Scout Ranger training just before he entered Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan a month ago.
Speaking to ABS-CBN News and other reporters at his graduation last Thursday, Guidicelli said they were hesitant to allow him because of his career as an actor.
“Siyempre bago pumasok, they all know how difficult this is. I’m 29 years old. All my classmates are 20. I’m in the middle of my career. Marami akong mga commitments. That’s one of the reasons kaya sinasabi nila, ‘Matteo, don’t do it. You’re cutting off your career,’” he related.
But Guidicelli insisted and he was fortunate to have also gained their 100% support later on.
“I believed in it because I’m 29 and if I don’t do it today, I won’t be able to do it. Medyo late na nga eh. They were all hesitant sa beginning but after a while, nakita nila yung passion ko so okay naman na sila,” he said.
The actor said it also meant a lot to him to see them on his graduation day.
“Very touching. It’s very emotional because the psychological effect and physical effect of this is beyond my expectations. To see all these people’s support, even to see the parents of my classmates here is very touching. Because grabe 'yung sacrifice nila. Hindi natin maiintindihan. Kayo hindi niyo maiintindihan kasi wala kayo dito pero yung mga sundalo, they are heroes na kulang sa attention ‘di ba?” he said.
When asked why he decided to train as a Scout Ranger, Guidicelli said: “Sa umpisa sinasabi ko sa lahat na dahil mahal ko ang bansa ko. 'Yun 'yung primary objective ko.”
This, however, became not just his sole motivation as he immersed himself with the country’s soldiers.
“Along the way, marami akong natutunan sa sarili ko at sa ibang tao. 'Yung skills set na natutunan ko dito, iba. Hindi mo matututunan kahit saan.' Yung reasons marami na iyan – love for country, being Pinoy, self-discipline, being passionate, nationalism, patriotism. Marami, hindi ko na ma-explain. I do not regret any moment of this experience,” he said.
But it wasn’t an easy ride for the actor, even though he obtained the highest grade of 95.20% among 97 students in the class.
“There are two points na I questioned myself and self-pity came about. The first four days, 'yung transition period ko na sobrang hirap, sobrang self-pity. That’s when I thought baka hindi ko kaya? But the objective always came back to my mind,” he said.
“The second time was in one of our activities, it’s called escape and evasion, what happens when you get captured by the enemy. Sabi ko baka hindi ko na kaya. But it’s all mindset. Nandito naman tayo,” he added.
Now that it’s all over, Guidicelli said he has a newfound respect for Filipino soldiers.
“As a civilian before, looking at soldiers, we give them so much respect. But now that I immersed, I lived and I trained with them, my respect for them has gone up, words cannot explain,” he said.
To end the interview, Guidicelli has one request to every Filipino.
“Kapag nakakita tayo ng sundalo sa mall man or sa airport man, kahit saan, magpasalamat tayo sa kanila. Sabihin lang natin, ‘Thank you for your service, sir, ma’am.’ Yun lang. High morale na sila,” he said.
Guidicelli, 29, officially joined the Army Reserve Command in mid-April, “because I love my country.”
Prior to his entry as Army reservist, Guidicelli also joined the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary in March.