Col. Leopoldo Galon Jr.: A dove among hawks

Col. Leopoldo Galon Jr. emphasizes the youth's role in "winning the peace" in Eastern Mindanao

Col. Leopoldo Galon Jr.: A dove among hawks

By Carmelle Marie Harrow

HE IS a peace advocate and a man of honor, a servant of God and country. At least, that’s how he describes himself.

Colonel Leopoldo Galon Jr. is one whom many may refer to as a dove, a peace-maker among armed men, in contrast to hawks in the military. His focus: the youth.

Urging the younger generation to become good citizens of our country Colonel Galon leads symposia to students from different schools as a part of the Youth for Peace Development Program here and in other parts of the region. Their mission is to educate students with what is happening in both the military and the communist side. They have been to schools inDavaolikeUniversity of SoutheasternPhilippines,SanPedroCollege,JohnPaulIIAcademyup to Surigao del Sur State University, St. Thaddeus College,NorthEasternMindanaoCollege, Notre Dame of Tulunan and to schools in Bukidnon.

“Nabibigyan sila ng sapat na impormasyon ahead of time to have an informed decision, ayoko yung white paper thing…kasi pag napasama sila sa isang organisasyong wala talaga silang alam, hindi na sila nakakpagtapos ng pag-aaral at masasayang ang kanilang kinabukasan,” Galon added.

Born and raised in Calamansig, Sultan Kudarat on October 1964, Colonel Galon graduated fromNotre DameUniversityinCotabatoCitywith a Bachelor in Science major in Civil Engineering in 1985.

Being a government scholar under Coconut Federation, he had his political awakening when Senator Benigno Aquino was killed.

As a student, he was a member of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) who rallied beside former President Corazon Aquino in dreaming for better governance in the country. Wanting peace for the country he loves he says, “I remember volunteering to campaign for President Cory, bringing placards that says ‘Sobra Na, Tama Na’ with the radio blasting songs that depict peace in the lyrics.”

Being an activist himself when he was still a student, Col. Galon says, “I want the youth of today to be an activist for the right reason at the right time, yung hindi ba sila naroromanticize and will be left to feel that it’s okay to be a revolutionary, tuloy nadi-distract yung kanilang studies.”

After graduating from college, he underwent the general classification for direct commissionship, an army battery test for engineers.

From the 300 applicants, he was one of the 23 chosen to train to become a soldier. It was also post Edsa Revolution when he was asked to go toManilato undergo a series of interview to identify his proficiency.

He was not assigned to the engineering unit when he became a junior officer in 1987 as a civil engineering graduate would have most likely been assigned to.

Instead, he became the Platoon Leader or the company commander of 64th Infantry Battalion under the Charlie Predator Company. His company was assigned in Panabo, Laak, andCompostelaValley, which were part of the undivided Davao del Norte, aside from Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental. His group was among the striker company that was asked to go to battle. “Na-assign din kaminoonsaCampAbubakar, pero binalik din kami dito,” Galon noted.

Colonel Galon took up Special Force Specialization Courses for Airborne and Explosive Demolition Course that made him excel as he has pre-knowledge on leadership and war fare tactics. Because of his command authority skills, the problem of land mines used by the leftist are easily solved.

With a slogan in his Infantry that “Everybody goes home”, they make sure that they all will be able to go home not like what happened to other soldiers after a fight that their dignity was lost after they are stripped off their uniforms and their service firearms.

“Gusto ko ang napasukan ko, may sense of adventure, I was also given a leadership command na bininigyan ako ng panahong makahalubilo at makausap ang aking mga tao…to be with them in happiness and in harm’s way,” Galon added.

In 2002-2003, he was called to serve the 54th Engineers Brigade in Manaog, Pangasinan, to help in the construction of roads and in rebuilding Pampanga, the lahar-stricken town.

“I wanted reform, yung concept ng reform sa units, di ko nakikita yun nung nandun ako, kaya umalis ako and rejoined the Infantry,” Galon said.

As a young soldier he was enraptured thinking of being in a war.

“Kalaban ko rin pala kapwa ko Pilipino, that’s what I never realized, kaya now I am doing things that will help my unit to reform and make sure the people in a town we have served will not experience any conflict between the military and instead consider us as friends and allies to change,” Galon said.

Busy with the military’s Bayanihan efforts, like tree planting and coastal clean-ups, he is also inclined to help the indigenous tribes by giving books to schoolchildren in boondocks, and helping with the Brigada Eskwela.

He’d also want to bring Operation Smile to the indigenous children who have cleft palates.

When not at work, he’s just an ordinary guy who loves buying collectible toys and memorabilia from fast food chains.

“May sense of accomplishment kasi pag nabuo mo, hindi ko na siya masyadong nagagawa ngayon pero if I have time I still look for collectible items in flea markets,” Galon added.

In college, he used to collect band posters and jingle magazines, as he loves to sing and play his acoustic guitar.

“Gusto ko talaga bumili ng bass guitarnoonpa, wala pang peranoon, pero ngayon na may pera na, wala naman akong time,” he said.

He lives by the serenity prayer and makes an effort to uphold it. Married to a doctor who is based in the National Capital Region (NCR), Colonel Galon wants to keep his family life private.


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