On 07 April 2017, Jesuit House Minister Fr. Tony Basilio, SJ turned over to COPERS Director Dr. Gail Ilagan the token of appreciation he received on her behalf from First Lieutenant Allan Wadsilang on 26 March 2017 when Ilagan was away on official business.
Wadsilang had traveled from his unit’s headquarters in Sulu to deliver the token, a 16-inch Jolo kris with intricately carved wooden grip and scabbard framed in glass and mounted on a 30”x15”x4” wooden frame. He had initially gone to Gate 3 of the Matina Campus, but was directed by the guard to Fr. Basilio at the Jesuit Residence to help him complete his mission in Davao City.
In the Malay tradition going back to the 3rd century, the kris symbolizes royalty, authority and power. It is rarely manufactured these days.
The gold plaque under the kris is inscribed with the unit’s appreciation for Ilagan’s invaluable service to the troops of the 6th Scout Ranger “The Cutting Edge” Company. The Scout Rangers, known to be the best jungle fighters in the world, are under the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) of the Philippine Army.
Ilagan, author of the book War Wounded that was published by the Ateneo de Davao University in 2010, pursues her advocacy for mental health management among active duty troops in Mindanao. Under her leadership, the Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services (COPER) has recently concluded the pilot of a Combat and Operational Stress First Aid (COSFA) training design among troops in various parts of Mindanao to address their psychological welfare and to help the Philippine Army develop an in-service manual.