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Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay: Igorot from Ifugao; Hero of Lamitan; Medal of Valor Nominee

Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay, an Igorot from Ifugao is one of the most decorated Scout Ranger in the country. Hero of Lamitan. Medal of Valor Nominee.

  • Capt. Ruben Guinolbay and his men just came from Southern Luzon after Scout Ranger training when they were ambushed by Abu Sayyaf elements in Lamitan.
  • They stood their ground. Some fell and died. Others were wounded.
  • Under intense fire, Guinolbay carried civilians to safety and directed his men in a successful counterattack.
  • For his gallantry in action, he was recommended for the country's highest military honor, the Medal of Valor.
  • Capt. Guinolbay is from Boliwong, Lagawe, Ifugao. He was the one who related the story of another Igorot Medal of Valor recipient, 2LT Dilag.

Who is Capt. Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay?

Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay | Photo Credit to owner

Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay | Photo Credit to owner

First among 94 students. The fourth of eight children born to farmers in Ifugao, Guinolbay was a full scholar at the University of the Philippines College Baguio where he enrolled as a freshman student of political science and history in 1989.

"I wanted to become a lawyer and enter the military as a lawyer," Guinolbay said.

Unsure whether he could get a stable job after college in order to help support his family, Guinolbay set his sights on a military career through the PMA.

Immediately after graduation from the country’s premier military school, he joined the Scout Rangers, the Army’s elite jungle fighting force. When he completed the Ranger course, he ranked first among 94 students.

He held assignments with the 5th and 7th Scout Ranger Companies, where he saw action in various parts of the country.

"The longest time I’m in one particular place is three months and that’s probably why I’m still a bachelor," Guinolbay said in jest.

Guinolbay also attended the world’s toughest Ranger school -- Fort Benning in Georgia state in the United States. Of eight foreign students in the class, only Guinolbay completed the training.

In spite of his commitment to the Scout Rangers, Guinolbay has also made sure his siblings at home would not be left behind.

"I helped my sister finish medicine. I’m still supporting two siblings in college. One is taking dentistry while the other is into physical therapy."

Winning medals, ribbons and commendations in his military career, Guinolbay has done his mother proud.

"My mother wears my (PMA) ring even if she’s cleaning at the farm," he confided.

Class 142 completed training only in April. The 132-strong batch had its test mission in Sulu, where they fought secessionist rebels in a series of engagements that earned Guinolbay two Bronze Cross medals, the fourth highest award in the military.

Guinolbay received his first Bronze Cross in 1996, in the course of fighting communist rebels in Cagayan.

Class 142 was flown back to Manila at the height of protests by supporters of deposed President Joseph Estrada in May. The unit was deployed as part of the second layer of defense in Malacañang.

The batch was supposed to link up with the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Basilan when they found themselves in the middle of the battle in Lamitan.

"We could see the flashes of the enemy’s guns," Guinolbay said.

Scout Ranger Officer is Recipient of AFP Medal of Valor

Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay | Photo credit to oender

Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay | Photo credit to oender

Capt. Ruben Buyucan Guinolbay, the officer who allegedly told Basilan priest Cirilo Nacorda that his unit had been used as "bait" for the Abu Sayyaf, has been recommended for a Medal of Valor, the country's highest military honor.

Guinolbay became the country's best-known Scout Ranger after his harrowing testimony at a congressional hearing.

He had told members of the House defense committee that he saw three of his men die on Jan 2 when he was ordered to proceed to the St. Peter's Church in Lamitan , Basilan, without being told that Abu Sayyaf bandits had already laid siege in the area.

"One was killed instantly while two others even asked my permission to die," he said.

During the ambush, Guinolbay personally dragged many of his men to safety and ministered to the wounded.

Noting that the officer was being cited for exceptional gallantry," Army spokesperson Lt. Col Jose Mabanta Jr. said Guinolbay represented the best of the country's soldiery.

"His sterling qualities and skills are what the Army requires of its officers and men," he said.

Mabanta added that the recommendation was already in process.

Men in Battle

A combat officer since his graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in 1994, Guinolbay had never lost men in battle, until the firefight in Lamitan.

"It was like losing a brother all over again," said Guinolbay, whose youngest brother died in an accident two years ago.

"The situation was very chaotic" he had said at the Aug. 24 House hearing.

"It was the first time I saw my own men fall in combat. When I touched the head of one of my men I saw that it had been reduced by half. I was carrying him with his brain spilling out of the pavement. While I carried my wounded men, I was crying."

In all, Guinolbay lost four men while eight other Rangers whom he had personally trained were wounded during the 27-hour encounter. Guinolbay was the course director of Scout Ranger Class 142, whose members made up the unit, that was waylaid by the Abu Sayyaf in Lamitan.

"There was a special bonding built among us during the training and we became like brothers," Guinolbay said. "I felt the burden because it was I who took them to battle."

At last month's hearing , he said he could not recall having told Nacorda that he and his men had been used as "pain" or bait.

Honorable Death

In spite of the controversy over Nacorda's allegations that some military men had connived with the Abu Sayyaf, Guinolbay has not changed his soldier's outlook.

"To die in the battlefield is an honorable death. That's an accepted fact among us soldiers. We've prepared for that," Guinolbay said.

Despite their casualties, Scout Ranger Class 142 went to engage the bandits at the Sampinit Complex, also in Basilan, on June 26. In that encounter, three Abu Sayyaf bandits were confirmed killed.

The Sampinit clash earned Guinolbay a Gold Cross Medal, the third highest decoration in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"If I die fighting and my parents were to be told that I died in battle, it would be enough to console their sorrows," Guinolbay said.

Credits:

  • Scout Ranger Officer is Recipient of AFP Medal of Valor by Carlito Pablo, Inquirer News Service

RubenBuyucanGuinolbay Igorot Ifugao hero Lamitan medal Valor ScoutRanger

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Facebook user
Facebook User

i am just wondering why until now he is still a lt col not a full pledge col or even in the star ranks when in fact many others who have not been into combat and from younger batches of pma others from the reserve force are holding ranks same as him considering the fact that palaging ibinabala sa kanyon si lt col guinolbay www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

sad to say, but the battle in lamitan was a moro- moro. money exchange hands during that time. people from malacanang, military n local politician were also involved. you can ask mr. romero, one of the hostage how much he paid for his freedom. you can also ask the colonel of the marines how sabaya n his men were able to escape at the back of the hospital. they just simply walk away coz all the guards were ordered to leave. www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

dapat general daytoy kuma, calling politician to recommend him, he is more than qualified enough than some of those who were promoted as generals... www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

i think col. guinolbay knows the truth on what happen in lamitan. he might not be involve but his commanders were into it. fr. nacorda knows all this shenigans of the military. www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

Congratulations sir, May God bless you always as you work for the welfare of the Filipino people. A pride of the igorots.. May the death walks you are going through be guided and blessed by our Almighty. Betwagan NHS is happy for your achievements. www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

sa mga ignorante.... ayan ang itsura ng igorot na pinagkakamalan ninyong mga kulot, maliliit at maiitim na may buntot... www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Salute!
I hope u were here within the region of CAR to protect the region from rhe extremists amid the pandemic situation. Honestly, i felt sorrow of losing 11 soldiers in recent clash with ASG were 4 of them hailed from upland region. In hope and prayer, we will pray for you, your family and your battalions the safety and health.
Kudos! Sir. www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Good job colonel at maalala ko ito rin yong opisyal na nagrescue kay REGIS ROMERO yong kinidnap ng abu sayyaf jan sa Las Palmas , Palawan. www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

A beloved hero for the Ifugaos, I'm proud to be an IGOROT ( Mt. Prov. ) www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

Its a great pleasure to mit you personally manong ruben!!! www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

Snappy salute to you sir for that mission you've done...it was so heartbreaking about the falle11...God Bless you always... www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Saludo kmi sa iyo from la trinidad benguet www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

Congratulations Cavalier on your outstanding accomplishments. You do proud not only to the elite Scout Rangers but to the whole AFP, to PMA, and to our country as well.
May God keep you and your men safe in your future endeavors.
Keep it up... www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Magaling talaga si Sir!!! Non pa man palagi ng nasa news name nya for his great achievement. Mabuhay po kyo!!! Warrior kunam man!!! www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

A true Igorot Warrior! Salute to you, sir. www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Congratulation sir saludo aq sau ur d hero,npakabuti mu png tao matulungin,isa n aq s mga n2lungan mu saludo aq sau sir www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

May you continue to inspire your colleagues... God bless always! www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Your a truly pride of Ifugao! God bless you & your family! www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 27
Facebook user
Facebook User

Another candidate for a 5 starposition!!! www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
Facebook user
Facebook User

Kasla korean-igorot mix mo ni sir..taraki nga talaga www.facebook.com/1568204316775716/posts/2492448004351338/?co...

Apr 28
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