Aquino honors 112-year-old war veteran

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Retired Army TSgt Tranquilino Cabiling does palm reading on Army chief, Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, to find out his fortune, (photo by: PFC Cesar Lopez/Army Public Information Office)

MANILA, Philippines—When his name was called Friday for an award from President Benigno Aquino, Army Technical Sergeant Tranquilino Cabiling mustered all his strength to stand and walk up to the commander-in-chief.

But Mr. Aquino spared the 112-year-old from making the effort. He walked toward Cabiling, along with the military’s top generals and the defense secretary.

The President gave Cabiling, the Army’s oldest living war veteran, a plaque of recognition for his services to the country on the 116th  anniversary of the Philippine Army.

The two men shook hands and the President was seen saying something to Cabiling, who still tried to be snappy even as he stooped.

While reporters were too far to hear what Aquino told Cabiling, it was evident that it made the old man happy. Cabiling’s face lit up and he smiled throughout.

Having lived for more than a century, Cabiling has a simple advise to his fellow soldiers: “Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t womanize. Do not forget to pray to God; He can give you a long life.”

Cabiling, who earlier spoke to reporters in Visayan, said he ate only healthy food, shunning meat in favor of vegetables, fish, and root crops.

He said he was still into farming, planting bananas and vegetables in his home in Misamis Oriental.

Born on July 6, 1900 in Albuera, Leyte, Cabiling joined the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) when he was 24 years old.

He saw action in World War II, assigned to Leyte as a gunner in the artillery division. Cabiling’s boss in the USAFFE was the legendary US General Douglas McArthur. Cabiling recalled being witness to McArthur’s Leyte landing.

Cabiling survived the Death March.

For sure, Cabiling has a treasure trove of stories to share. But he already has difficulty speaking, and could  utter only fragmented sentences. A guardian acts as his interpreter.

Cabiling, who served 29 years and 11 months in the military, appears to be the only surviving member of his family. He said that he was a widower and lost his only daughter in 1995 in a road accident.

Army spokesperson Col. Randolph Cabangbang told the Inquirer that a group of Army reservists have taken Cabiling under their care after seeing him at the Philippine Veterans Office Affairs in Camp Aguinaldo following up his pension from the government.

Cabangbang said Cabiling lost his military ID after retiring in 1953 and found it only last year, which was why it was only then he was able to work on his pension anew.

“We are still waiting for the results of the processing of his paper. I think someone has asked help from the Defense chief,” Cabangbang said.

Cabangbang said that even at 112, Cabiling’s fondness for the military remained apparent.

“I gave him an Army keychain yesterday which he put on his belt loop right away. I also gave him a statue of an infantry soldier and he held it really tight,” Cabangbang said.

The Army spokesman said Cabiling told him he longed for a pair of Army boots. Right away, Cabangbang looked for a pair in the Army’s stockroom.

“Unfortunately, he is a size 10. We only had a 9-1/2. When I told him that, he said that he would just repair it,” Cabangbang said.

Cabangbang said he also noticed that Cabiling still wore the military issued green Army pants.

He was also proud of his good health, bragging to Armed Forces chief General Emmanuel Bautista and Army chief Lieutenant General Noel Coballes about his complete set of teeth.

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  • Pinoy

    Panahon na para pagbayarin si Gloria. Pairalin ang hustisya

  • Anonymous

    The journalist reports is in need of major major polishing.  If this were submitted to New York Times ofChicago Tribune they’d slash and burn it with recommendation to go back to kindergarten.  hawr! hawr! hawr!

  • Meow Ming

    USAFFE was created on July 1941. He must be 41 yrs old when he joined and not 24.

    • BOYPDAF

      Regardless of that he said to live long one must not WOMANIZED.DRINK ALCOHOL PRAY TO GOD,but forgot to say be HONEST and not to do corrupt and PABAON..

      • makinagulingon_nasud

        oh BS!! there are many 100+ atheist drunk cigar smoking weed toking screwing everything that walks or crawls alive in the world today sitting back with a cold one watching HIV/AIDS infected RCC priests kick the bucket

        125 Year Old Woman Claimed Smoking Pot Everyday Was Her Secret to Long Life
        A 125-year-old woman, said to be one of the oldest women in India, died at her home in Orissa, her family said Sunday. Fulla Nayak claimed that smoking cannabis every day was her secret to long life.

        According to her 72-year-old grandson, Fulla was 125. But as per a voter photo identity card issued by the government in 1995 she was 120 years.

        The grand old woman lived in a small mud-walled thatched house in Kanarpur, about 25 km from the district headquarters. She is survived by two of her four daughters and around two dozen relatives.

        Her eldest daughter, Jamuna, 92, lives in the same village. Her husband died at the age of 50.

        Fulla was in the news when her grandson Narayan Nayak claimed last week that she could be the oldest woman living in the world. He had said that he would write to the Guinness book authorities to record the claim.

        Fulla was known for her love of smoking ganja and cigars and palm juice.

    • magiting78

      Most probably he was a member of Hukbalahap before he joined USAFFE.

  • tgomeziii

    There is something amiss with the arithmetic of this story.

    USAFFE was organized at the onset of WWII in the Pacific…..1941. If Mr. Cabiling was born in 1900, he could not have been 24 when he joined the the USAFFE. More……, if he retired in 1953, claiming to having served for almost thirty years, that would put his enlistment somewhere in 1923!

  • JOSE RIZAL

    asan na mga makapili?

  • speedstream2

    Let’s just all be happy for this centenarian. Hitting 60 these days seems a long shot, much less 65, advances in science and medical care notwithstanding. The previous generations must have gotten some things, from which we can all probably learn. Mabuhay po kayo, Sgt. Tranquilino Cabiling.

  • louie

    I hope media would make a documentary about him. He may have priceless stories to share.

  • Simplify1

    “survived death march” AND “a witness to McArthur’s landing as a gunner in the artillery division”? A very tough act given that it was only the McArthur Leyte group the liberated the USAFFE POWs in Capas, Tarlac and at the UST. Was he able to liberate himself and join McArthur in Leyte?

    Indeed there were G.I.s and Pinoy soldiers of the USAFFE who were able to escape during the death march to Tarlac and during incarceration, but there is no existing record proving that these USAFFE prisoner escapees who were able to follow the BIG MAC to Australia and join his liberation force in Leyte….

    Just historically impossible….

    BUT, THE REAL KICKER IS THE FACT THAT THE USAFFE WAS ACTIVATED ONLY IN 1941!! THIS CABLING WWII HERO WAS SAID TO HAVE BEEN BORN IN 1900 AND JOINED THE USAFFE WHEN HE WAS 24…. SIMPLE MATH WILL SHOW THAT IT WAS 1924 WHEN HE JOINED USAFFE, RIGHT? HOW WAS HE ABLE THEN TO JOIN AN ARMY THAT WAS CREATED ONLY IN 1941??

    HERE AGAIN IS PDI’S ASSUMPTION THAT ALL THE PDI READERS HAVE ERAP’S MATH IQ!!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    paano na yung mga namatay sa sabah sana big yan din ng millitary honor sana di na mag takip ng bayog sa ulo si mr president!

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