MANAOAG — “Aries was the best gift God has given me and the country.”
The was how Katrina Tamondong, wife of Police Officer 2 Aries Tamondong of the Regional Public Safety Battalion of Region 1 (RPSB1), who hailed from Barangay Cabanbanan, Manaoag town, accepted the fate of her husband who was killed in the armed encounter with New People’s Army (NPA) elements in San Nicolas on July 28.
“They need to fight for the country,” she said, adding wives of policemen or soldiers like her understand that their husbands are making great sacrifices for the country.
On that fateful day, Aries phoned Katrina twice. The first call at 5:30 a.m. was to greet her and to tell her that his unit was about to patrol in the mountains.
The second came call as Katrina was headed to school but Aries wasn’t talking. He just kept the line open, and she heard frantic voices and she sensed his comrades were scampering for cover and positions.
“For two hours I was hearing shouts from men in the background,”
“Then, I heard someone “Si Tams, si Tams tinamaan!” (Tams was short for Tamondong)”, Katrina recalled. “I was shocked. Then I heard someone say, “Kaya mo yan, lumaban ka,”
She said she called out to him hoping he could hear her.,” Pa, you talk, please talk…” But he was not answering.
She said with Aries’ phone open for more than two hours, it enabled her to hear the constant exchange of gunshots.
“It was loud and I was afraid and felt crushed inside,” she said. “Pa, you go home please. I would wait for you!” she said she kept on.
Then Katrina finally heard Aries trying hard to speak, gasping saying “…Ma…,” “
My heart was pounding hard,” she said crying.
Katrina, 33, a teacher at the Manaoag National High School here, and Aries, 35, had been married for 17 years already and have four children, aged 14, 10, 8 and 3.
“Every time he had time, he’d call me, to ask how we are and listened to our stories,” Katrina tearfully narrated.
“Our kids were his priority and every time he was in the house, he would take good care of them, especially our youngest,” she said.
She added Aries also constantly advised his eldest and second daughters about relationships with boys.
Meanwhile, Fourth District Rep. Christopher de Venecia expressed sadness over the loss of Tamondong, his constituent.
“We thank Officer Tamondong for his service and we commend his bravery, his dedication, and his commitment to go above and beyond the call of duty to serve and protect his fellow Pangasinenses,” De Venecia said in a statement.
In a related development, the municipal council of San Nicolas passed a resolution honoring the bravery of Tamondong and extended P20,000 financial assistance plus more than P6,000 in cash donation extended by municipal officials and employees, according to Mayor Rebecca Saldivar.
Tamondong will be laid to his final resting place on Aug. 12. (Eva Visperas)