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Navy and Marine Reservists passionate about serving the country in these trying times

By KERRY TINGA

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“We had been talking for weeks but we just met a while ago,” said beauty queen and humanitarian Winwyin Marquez in a call right after Sgt. Jaimie Sarmiento and other Navy reservists delivered alcohol, face shields, isolation boxes, and other supplies that Winwyin would be donating to frontliners. After working hard with sister Jesm Marquez on an online fundraiser, the siblings found it difficult to get the supplies to the frontliners who sorely needed them.

“During the enhanced community quarantine, one of the strengths of the reservists right now is that we have access to transport,” Jaimie explained. The 28-year-old has been involved with the military ever since her Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) days while studying at La Salle. She continued her involvement even after graduating and has joined tree plantings, donation drives, and other outreach programs. When the threat of Covid-19 and the effects of the enhanced community quarantine became clear she knew as a reservist she would be called to be involved in whatever way she could.

While Jaimie was humble and downplayed her role in the donation operation in our call, Winwyin enthusiastically discussed the coordination, efforts, and key logistical role of the reservists in helping her and other donors during these trying times.

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“I am so thankful to the reservists who are helping people who want to donate. If not for them, it would have been so hard. You can really rely on them as trusted officers,” added Winwyin whose own training had been delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis. Seeing how quickly and efficiently the reservists assisted her donation efforts reaffirmed in her that joining them was going to be the right choice. In the meantime, Winwyin decided to focus on how she could help through an online fundraiser.

When obstacles arose in terms of transportation and logistics, Winwyin turned to a Viber group chat for future enlistees like herself who wanted to ask questions to current reservists, which included Jaimie, who helped coordinate and organize the efforts, as well as actor Rocco Nacino.

“Rocco is a good friend of mine and when he joined the reservists he explained to me that it gave him a new perspective on life,” said Winwyin eagerly. “He told me a lot of people who hear about the military think of war right away but it is not like that at all. It is about equipping yourself so you can protect people. That is why I decided to enlist and train.”

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The Descendants of the Suns (DOTS) actor has been involved with the Navy reservists since the end of 2019 and has since then seen what opportunities to help it has opened up. He recalled the relief operations he was involved in after the eruption of Taal earlier this year.

“I was able to go there and be involved, utilizing the trucks of the Marines and the Navy. Jaimie and the other reservists helped so much in implementing and securing everything so that we could help,” said Rocco. When crisis hit with the eruption of Taal and the Covid-19 pandemic, being part of the reservists allowed him to feel part of something larger than just himself, for the sake of the country and its people, to have immediate access to resources that would allow him to help.

Celebrating his birthday during the enhanced community quarantine, Rocco and girlfriend Melissa Gohing worked with his fellow Navy reservists to deliver food and supplies to frontliner soldiers reporting for duty at checkpoints.

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When I asked him what it meant to serve through the Navy reservists, Rocco went back to the immersion activities he and others were involved in on the set of DOTS last year.

“It was a two-day crash course on what it meant to be an elite soldier, hearing their stories so that we could create our characters. Listening to the fire and passion of the soldiers who joined so that they could serve their country, the sense of fulfillment it gave them, the new take on life, it sparked something in me,” he recounted ardently. “As an artist I recognize the influence I have and hope to influence young people to open their eyes and see that they can do things and be part of something greater than themselves.”

Rocco’s co-star on DOTS also influenced his decision to enlist and train, Lt. Dingdong Dantes having enlisted as a Navy reservist since 2017.

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“I am humbled for the opportunity to at least live up to the legacy of my grandfather and namesake Col. Sixto R. Dantes, who is a World War II veteran and a death march survivor, and my father, Sixto Jr., a civilian volunteer of the Coast Guard Auxilary,” Dingdong graciously said. “But more than that, I consider it a privilege to volunteer in helping those who help me keep my family and my loved ones safe. We are entrusted with the huge responsibility and great honor of contributing in nation building. I am thankful as a reservist, as a soldier, I can enable others to pursue their own dreams in a secure and safe environment.”

Reservists must balance their civilian lives and jobs with the readiness to heed the call of duty whenever asked of them. No matter who they are or what they do as civilians, they all share a common motivation that is, as Jaimie put it to me, “A sense of purpose, a fulfillment, that we are part of something, doing something for others.”



Source: Manila Bulletin ( https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/16/navy-and-marine-reservists-passionate-about-serving-the-country-in-these-trying-times/)

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