TO SERVE & PROTECT
By Cip D.C. Cabrera (with excerpts from Minda News)
A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a hundred thousand men.
— Athenian philosopher Plato
CALOOCAN CITY, METRO MANILA — There is a sentimental quote in Spanish from the great 19th century poet Dámaso Alonso and it says, tal vez sea verdad: que un corazón es lo que mueve el mundo. In English, it is translated as “perhaps it is true: it is a heart which moves the world.”
It is one of my favourites and every time I hear or read it, it inspires me to try and do something for the greater good.
Though in truth it is a Spanish quote, we believe that it has also inspired our by-gone heroes to achieve the best for their country by spilling their blood and offering their lives for Motherland and countrymen.
Unfortunately, our history has been tainted with inconsistencies and half-truths and this is because it has been written without the full knowledge of what our culture is truly all about.
And war has always figured as a big part in the history of any nation or civilization. We cannot deny that most of our heroes have been hailed as heroes because they had fought in wars and conflicts that show their ‘patrimonious’ love for their country.
Knowing this, it cannot be avoided that military units are likewise celebrated as having played important roles in these events of what can be construed as made through ‘blood and carnage.”
In ancient times, Persia had its 10,000 Immortals, Alexander the Great’s Silver Shields and so many others, among them the 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae. And so, too, in modern times, when Scotland had its vaunted Black Watch Brigade and Britain its Gurkha Regiment.
The Philippines also has its Tiradores de la Muerte (In English, Marksmen of Death), which was an elite unit formed by General Antonio Luna to serve under the Philippine Revolutionary Army. It is sad that this celebrated military unit is rarely known by modern day Filipinos even if they had been famous for fighting fiercer than the regular Filipino army soldiers during our war for independence against Spain.
Still, there are other units that some Filipinos figure prominently. Such as the 516-year-old Pontifical Swiss Guard in Rome. Until recently, Sebastian Esai Eco Eviota has become the first ‘full-blooded’ Pinoy to join this minor armed force and honor guard unit maintained by the Holy See that protects the pope and the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
To be a Swiss guard, you must be a Swiss citizen, Catholic and unmarried, and must be 19 to 30 years old. You must also be a member of the Swiss Army after having passed basic Army training.
Eviota was heartily welcomed to the Guard in a letter dated January 17, 2022 by Christoph Graf, the commander of the Swiss Guard based at the Vatican.
But the announcement to the public was withheld by the family in deference to the passing of his grandfather, retired Regional Trial Court judge Diomedes Eviota Sr. of Surigao city, who had learned the good news before he got sick a week later and passed on.
Eviota was born in Davao City in August 1998 but moved to Switzerland in 2009 together with his elder sister Sophia on a family reunion visa. His father, Diomedes Eviota, Jr. is from Surigao City while his mother Editha Eco, who passed away in 2000, was from Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.
A second Lieutenant in the Swiss Army, Eviota served in the Infantry 13th Battalion after completing the basic two-year Army course.
Nicknamed ‘Baste’ by his family and friends, this Swiss Guard member has been a member of the Youths for Christ (YFC) Europe group since he arrived in Switzerland. He is also a former council member of the English-speaking Roman Catholic Community of Canton Berne based at the Bruder Klaus church in Bern.
The first Swiss Guard of Filipino descent is the Swiss-Filipino Vincent Lüthi, who joined the Guards in October 2020. Lüthi’s father is a Swiss living in canton Vaud while his mother hails from Cebu.
Eviota, who turns 24 next month, resides at the quartier Bumpliz in the Swiss capital city of Bern, where he lives with his father, sister Sophia and their stepmother Maria Theresa Angob.
He completed an apprenticeship as Hotel Specialist in Bern and last worked at the supermarket chain Migros as a Customer Service Supervisor, while Sophia also works at Migros as sous-chef.
When told of the good news before leaving his post in Bern in January 2022, then Ambassador to Switzerland Denis Yap Lepatan and his wife Maria Teresa Lepatan, said it is “a great honor” to have another Filipino from Switzerland among the members of the Swiss Guard.”
Photo Courtesy: iStock