UNMASKED: The Courage and Creativity of SAF Trooper Pat Marcus Borromeo

Some people live their lives without meaning and die empty. Some choose otherwise—live on the edge while holding on to a purpose—not afraid of what happens next as their lives anchor towards something greater than themselves. 

As I hurriedly sat across Marcus in a bustling coffee shop, it felt surreal to be catching up with a college friend after all these years.

He jokingly scolded me for having him wait for several minutes, just like how he reprimanded me during our school paper days when I commited something stupid. I sheepishly apologized and went on with exchanging teases. No formalities needed, just two colleagues catching up, just like the old times.

Life had taken us on different paths, and seeing him now as a police Special Action Force (SAF) trooper, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe for the journey he had embarked upon.

We were campus journalists. He was our art director, a year ahead of me, thus he’s my senior, our “boss.”

An artist and a Psychology major admired by many for his undeniable talent, Marcus remained humble and timid. He’s fun to be with but can be serious, sometimes strange. But that’s simply him, and I learned to go along with his personality.

After college, we never had the moment to catch up. Life happens, and we have our dreams to chase.

It was only right at that moment in the coffee shop that I was able to catch up with him for the first time in 11 years, beyond random messages on social media.

“So, how have you been?” I asked.

It was a conversation of recent life updates until he opened up about his previous struggles before becoming a trooper, a topic he rarely share with anyone.

Maybe it was a quarter-life crisis, maybe it was due to the circumstances that had been going on in his life at that moment, but he was certain that there was a powerful force inside him that he couldn’t even recognize, just waiting to explode. It even came to a point when he had to run away in a desperate attempt to escape and find solace.

He had to unleash this inner force. It might be a rage. Or a strong question of the unknown. It was certainly something that he was afraid he couldn’t control.

Whatever it was, he surrendered his life and wholly embraced what it is like to be a Christian. “I am ready for whatever happens anytime,” he said, reminiscing the years that have passed.

In 2015, Marcus Borromeo found himself glued to the news of the tragic incident involving the SAF 44. The bravery and sacrifice of the troopers struck a deep chord within him.

At that very moment, a fierce determination was ignited. He wanted to make a difference, to be a part of something greater than himself.

Joining SAF was his way to end everything, an “act of suicide,” as he calls it.

Marcus joined the elite unit of the PNP and graduated as president of Lapung-Laan Class 17-01. Beyond the arduous training, this journey made him realize he had found his purpose.

In his element

Creativity never escaped Marcus all these years. Amid areas for counter-terrorism, counterinsurgency, and other special operations where he’s assigned, his artistic spirit thrived.

Rugged landscapes and remote terrains serve as this multimedia artist’s canvas.

He said, “Some fail to see the things we already have. But as an artist, I see nature and its plethora of artistic possibilities.”

He would spend his downtime sketching on the back of old mission reports and log books. Trees, twigs, leaves, and whatever materials he could source from where he was became his tools for expression.

Last year, his art gained online buzz with a painting of actress Andrea Torres as her character role Sisa in the television series Maria Clara at Ibarra.

After watching the poignant scene of Sisa, he found solace in sorting out his emotions by grabbing his brush and canvas.

Sisa’s struggle against societal injustices and unwavering love for her children mirror the trooper’s dedication, resilience, courage, and sense of meaning.

What came after was something he hadn’t expected. Soon enough, his work reached the actress, leading him to meet his subject.

Service and creativity

It was evident that his passion for both serving and creating had become inseparable parts of his identity.

His creativity and the principles he upheld as a commando go seemingly parallel.

Artworks convey social issues and emotions, encouraging empathy and dialogue, while SAF principles promote trust within the force and communities they serve.

“We need the people’s trust so we can bring a solution to the most pressing issues of our country,” he says, adding, “However, the wall that divide the people and the government is a factor why some decide to lean towards the wrong path.”

Stories of communities

Marcus finds a deeper meaning to what he does through the tales of people he meets.

Currently, he is one of the creative minds behind the PNP’s R-PSB Stories, a series of documentaries telling diverse stories of communities and their plight that continue to hold back peace and progress.

His innovative and artistic approach breathes life into these narratives, allowing for a deeper understanding of issues. Marcus and his team are dedicated to creating meaningful change and cultivating awareness within the communities they serve, be it in far-flung places or even within the metropolitan.

Looking back, Marcus realizes that while he’s ready to face death, life comes in the middle and gives him more reasons to live.

Life keeps on showing off the endless possibilities and reasons why it is great to be alive. And the more he discovers life, the more he stays impressed by what it can offer.

For now, he can say that he has found his mission—to be strong and courageous for the glory of God, and until the end comes, he’ll keep doing what he does.

He shared the verse that has kept him anchored in faith all these years:

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:8-9

As we were about to part ways, I asked him what’s next.

His answer was no longer a surprising thing to me. I’ve always known him to be unpredictable, mysterious even, to a degree of being wayward, but I know he’s much wiser this time.

He no longer plans, he said.

“I live life a day at a time. Whatever life presents to me, I’ll take it.”

This story is an entry to COMCO Mundo’s “UNMASKED: The COMCO Mundo Write to Ignite Season 3”.  The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities. “UNMASKED” aims to explore how each mask is a person brimming with hope and wonders to share with others, as well as why it is important to tell their inspiring journeys in life. The “Write to Ignite” Season 3 is made possible by COMCO Mundo League of Enterprises, with airasia, Babyflo, PHILUSA Corporation, Century Tuna, Licealiz, Lamoiyan Corporation, Rémy Martin, and Uratex Monoblock as brand partners.

Gelyka Dumaraos

Gel is a writer and wanderer from the Philippines. She maintains this blog, Musings and Pathways, as a platform for her thoughts on love and life and stories of places and people she meets while on the road. Aside from writing and being a freelance media consultant, she is recently into baking and cooking. Gel lives with her fiance in a humble, work-in-progress abode in the beautiful province of Rizal. Email her at gelykaruthdumaraos@gmail.com.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.