WATCH: Soldier performs 'Bangon Marawi' anew

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — Sergeant Ronnie Halasan was delivering supplies to their brigade when he noticed an exodus of people into Iligan City.

It was May 23, 2017 and the Marawi crisis had broken out. Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired fighters clashed with military troops.

It was Halasan's second time encountering conflict on duty — he was also present in the 2013 Zamboanga siege. This time, he would be assigned as a combat driver delivering supplies to troops on the front lines.

"Doon ko nakita ang mga bata na kaaawa-awa, hiwalay sa magulang," said Halasan. "Doon ko napansin na bilang isang Pilipino at sundalo, di ko rin maibsan ang aking sarili."

[Translation: That is where I saw these poor children, separated from their parents... That is where I realized that as a Filipino and a soldier, I could not put myself at ease.]

With communication lines down, the sergeant began writing feverishly in a journal, should something happen to him.

"Habang nagpuputukan, may panahon na nagpapahinga magkabilaan-ako naman, umupo sa isang tabi, sa sasakyan, nagjojournal pa rin," Halasan recalled. "Hindi man ako palain sa araw na iyon, at least... makikita ang sulat para sa pamilya ko."

[Translation: There would be moments of rest between the crossfire-I would be on the side, by my car, journaling. If I wasn't lucky that day, at least... my family could read my writing.]

By the end of May, he began composing "Bangon Marawi." As he was finding the tone for the song with a guitar he found at the brigade headquarters, he was overheard by Joint Task Force Marawi spokesman Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera.

Herrera invited him to play the song at the Provincial Capitol.

"May hinanda rin gitara doon. Kinanta ko doon," said Halasan. "Hindi ko alam na kinunan ako ng video ng mga kababayan natin."

[Translation: They also prepared a guitar. I sang there. I didn't know they took a video of me.]

The next day, he was surprised when people were knocking at his car door and asking if he was the singing soldier in the video.

A year after the siege, Halasan performed the song anew for CNN Philippines' The Source. "Bangon Marawi" is the first of ten songs he wrote during the course of the five-month crisis.

 

The war left 168 government troops, 900 enemy forces, and 47 civilians dead. Over 359,000 were displaced.

READ: Remembering the Marawi crisis