EVEN the bravest among them couldn’t help but be teary-eyed upon seeing their basketball idols in the flesh.
Retired MSgt. (Master Sergeant) Emiliano Hemongala, Jr. failed to contain his emotion following the visit made by the entire San Mig Super Coffee team on wounded soldiers currently confined at the AFP Medical Center on Tuesday.
Hemongala, who served the Philippine Marines for 21 years before losing his foot during a fierce battle with rebels in 2001 in Lanao del Norte, was just one of many CDDs (completely discharged due to disability) who mingled with the Mixers through the effort of the Hero Foundation.
“Masaya, kasi nawawala 'yung problema namin. Katulad ko, pakiramdam ko kumpleto pa rin kami, walang bawas at kapag nakakapanood ako ng basketball, katulad nila (other wounded soldiers), pipilitin nila bumangon basta basketball,” Hemongala shared to Spin.ph.
Along with his wife and daughters Marga and Maryorie, Hemongala happily engaged with the Mixers led by coach Tim Cone, at the hospital ward.
Marga, the eldest of Hemongala daughters, recently completed her college education at Far Eastern University thanks to the support of Hero Foundation, while sibling Maryorie is an incoming sophomore college student at STI.
Meantime, Hero Foundation marketing and resource mobilization director Michelle Chan thanked the entire San Mig team for taking time out of its busy PBA schedule to bring inspiration and encouragement to the wounded soldiers.
“It’s amazing, the energy here. Like what coach Tim said earlier, they talk about going out, fighting and going out there for a battle (in the game), but that compares to nothing, to real soldiers who battle the real war just to make sure we are all safe,” Chan said.
Although the hospital visit lasted less than an hour, Chan explained the Mixers’ mere presence somewhat eases the emotional and physical pain of the wounded soldiers.
“Freedom doesn’t come for free. Freedom is paid for by the lives of every Filipino soldier who fought for us. And this (coming) Independence Day, we thank our soldiers,” said the Hope Foundation director.
“We salute them, every soldier in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air force, we salute them.”
At present, there are 721 Hope Foundation scholars nationwide, according to Chan.