(UPDATED 9:00 a.m., June 12) Princess Garcia, 19, had been awaiting the return of her brother Corporal John Garcia, a Philippine Marine Corps soldier, for weeks, but on Friday morning, she found out about his death through Facebook.
“We were shocked. Many people posted that my kuya was dead, but we [his family] didn’t know about it,” said Princess.
The Garcia family of Barangay Kauswagan, San Miguel, Bohol had been expecting the return of John, 28, since April as he was dispatched to provide additional security in Manila during the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit.
But John would never make it home.
He was deployed in Marawi City to fight the Maute terrorists who have been in fierce gun battles against government troops since last month.
“They were tasked to guard the president of Vietnam and we were expecting him to come home after,” said the still disbelieving 19-year-old.
Despite Princess’ disbelief, however, the inevitable came.
John’s commanding officer on Friday afternoon called the Garcia family informing them that the soldier was killed by Maute terrorists amid the clashes at the southern city in Mindanao.
Her brother died at 10 a.m. on the same day after he was shot in the bladder, Princess was told.
John was among 13 Marines who were killed in a 14-hour clash against Islamist militants who have overrun parts of Marawi City.
What the family was fearing had finally been confirmed after condolences from friends and neighbors already flooded John’s Facebook page.
“Nakakagulat na balita. Rest in peace, kuya Jhon! Isa kang matapang na sundalo na humarap at sumabak sa giyera sa Marawi dahil sa Maute Group. Saludo kame sayo,” Ehgie Conejos, posted on Johns’s Facebook page.
“Daghan salamat sa inyong suporta sa among family, magpabilin siya sa atong kasing-kasing sa matag usa ka nato. Sakit man dawaton apan gebuhat ni niya for our country,” Bryan Garcia addressed the posters on his older brother John’s Facebook.
John was the eldest among five siblings.
He grew up in Bohol and had graduated from CVSCAFT (Central Visayas State College of Agriculture Forestry and Technology), now BISU (Bohol Island State University), before joining the Marines in 2012.
Meanwhile, Sylvia and Romulo, John’s parents, immediately flew to Metro Manila where the Marine trooper was transported following his death.
The family is still unsure when John’s body will arrive in Bohol for the burial but members of the Garcia household including Condrada Relampagos Carisosa, John’s grandmother, have already started to prepare for the arrival of the fallen soldier’s remains.
Carisosa laments the death of her eldest grandchild but said that she has already come to terms with the tragedy which has beset their family.
While Princess, the youngest among the Garcias, expressed pride for her brother who was killed while serving his county.
“Despite the circumstances, I’m proud that he died because of his bravery,” she said. (with reports from Allen Doydora)