We went back to our tent city. It was already 0600H. Miraculously, the sun smiled down on us. We ate our morning mess. Everybody was so excited. We could go outside camp and see normal people again. We love the scent outside the premises of Camp Tecson. It smells like home. It makes me feel like a normal person. We felt so much joy that time. We almost forgot that we will be sent to Jolo the following day. I prepared to take a bath. I opened my duffel bag. As instructed, we only brought 2 pairs of civilian attire and the rest were all Philippine Army uniforms. I would be wearing my brown khaki cargo pants and white T-shirt. It’s always reserve for passes and official business.
As I was preparing my clothes, I’ve noticed a pair of worn-out combat boots in my duffel bag. I pulled it out. It became white with a lot of stitches all over it. It looked so battered. I didn’t throw it away. It had sentimental value. I placed it on top of my bamboo bed. My combat boots were my buddies too. I could still recall the last time I went outside the camp premises.
I was brought to a provincial hospital due to a severe infection on my right foot. I couldn’t wear my combat boots that time. Boils or skin abscesses are one of the most common skin diseases during the SR training. It is one of the greatest enemies of every scout ranger students. It can hit you anywhere. My boils started to come out during the 2nd phase of our training. Almost every Scout Rangers have experienced this nightmare. Days after our Echo Echo, my back was already infected. The wounds I incurred during that haunting night became my nightmare for the whole duration of FTX. It was painful. The pain was annoying. I always had fever every night. I felt weak every road runs. I never wanted to take any pain relievers and antibiotics. Alas! I didn’t have any choice. Every time I took those meds, I felt so weak the whole day. The higher the dose, the greater were the side effects. Initially, my immune system has won that first battle. I never expected that it was just the beginning of my sufferings.
During our FTX KUTING, the blister on my left ankle became infected. After several days, my foot had swollen. It was awful. I self-pitied. I had to wear my sandals during FTX. I had no choice. As a result, the infection worsened. I had to cut my combat boots on the part where my ankle was infected. I couldn’t bear the agony anymore. It was a desperate move. I forced myself to wear my combat boots.
The RI finally told me that there was a student who never graduated because of a severe foot infection. It totally worsened because the bones in his foot was also infected. He never survived the training. If he would continue the course, his foot might get amputated.
I would rather have an amputated foot than to quit the Scout Ranger course. That was my resolve.
“Okay! If that’s your decision, I will recommend that you will apply for a sick-call. There will be no confinement if you want to continue.” The RI suggested. I agreed with him. Confinement for 48 hours is considered as disqualification. The student will be recycled to the next class. If you will get sick during training, you will not graduate.
The clinic within the Scout Ranger Training School was not capable to treat my condition. They brought me to a civilian hospital. When I was there at the hospital, the doctor told me that I should not continue the course. His words stung like a bee. I felt very disappointed. I begged him if I could get more powerful dose of antibiotic shots. I even requested if I could bring a syringe during the FTX. I’ll inject it to myself every hour if necessary. I was so desperate. He was laughing. “You are really determined to become a Scout Ranger, huh?” He asked me. “I would rather die than not finishing the course, sir.” I told him with a resentful tone. He gave me a higher dose of pain relievers and antibiotics. He gave me antibiotic shots. “Good Luck, Lieutenant! I wish you could survive.”
God is good. I survived the FTX with a battered foot and combat boots.
I survived because of my determination. I took my worn-out combat boots and put it inside my duffel bag. I was ready to swim and take a bath in the river.
(To be Continued)