Manila: The enlistment of celebrities into the Philippines’ military reservist force has boosted interest among youth in volunteering for the armed services.
Last month, Filipino-Italian actor Matteo Guidicelli volunteered and graduated from the monthlong orientation course for the elite Philippine Army Scout Rangers in Camp Tecson in Bulacan.
“The physical aspect was hard, but what was more difficult was the psychological challenge. The truth was, I wanted to quit on the first day, but I made it through the course,” Guidicelli, a triathlete, said.
Guidicelli said he did not receive any special treatment despite his fame as an actor.
Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, said the rigorous training, where their physical and mental abilities are tested, prepare them to take leadership roles not just in the military but in society in general.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is an all-volunteer force. To bolster its ranks and to prepare civilians, it provides an opportunity for citizens to join as reservists.
The military’s reservist ranks range from medical doctors, nurses, dentists, engineers, lawyers, executives, journalists, security guards, carpenters, mechanics and technicians, among others.
“There is no political affiliation in the regular armed force and the reservist ranks. We are all here to serve the country,” Reserve Army Capt. Godofredo ‘Dodie’ Senires, who holds a PhD, told Gulf News in an interview.
During times of crisis or emergencies or calamities, reservists assist the armed forces regular units.
Senires said the decision by Guidicelli to join the reservists provides a positive impact to the public.
“Suddenly, everyone wants to join the reserves,” he said.
The interest generated by Guidicelli’s decision to become a reservist also prompted another action film star Robin Padilla, 50, to join the reserves.
Also regarded as “weekend warriors”, reservists devote only a week in a day for training or performing reservist duties compared to regular military personnel who render full time service and are compensated well.
Reserve Lt. Col. Frederick Dedace, a lawyer who is an official in a Manila university, said being a reservist is purely voluntary service.
“We have no expectations on compensation at all, but this is the point why it is voluntary,” he said, adding, “in doing so, we feel that we are doing our share to society as Filipinos.