After months of fighting for the liberation of Marawi against the Maute Terrorist Group, almost every soldier’s sentiment is to be with their loved ones during the Christmas season.

Unfortunately, this won’t be the case for Corporal Dennis Soriano, Sergeant Julius Agusenand the other 40 injured soldiers still rehabilitating at the 3-Alpha section of the Heroes’ Ward inside the      V. Luna General Hospital in Quezon City.

“Halos five months na kami dito, kaso di na rin kayang makauwi kasi kailangan pa magpagaling at maikli lang rin ang break,” sharedCpl. Soriano, 32, a native of Samar.Hewas sent to Manila after hurting his hip in a crossfire last July, two months after the siege started.

Despite his current physical condition and the thought of not being at home during the Christmas break, there was no sign of regret or sadness in Soriano’s tone while narrating his courageous story   –only hope.

After all, Soriano is tapping into Pipol Konek, the Free Wi-Fi in Public Places project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), to keep his morale high despite being stuck in his ward by going online to stay connected.

“Mahalaga talaga kasi di mo nafefeel na nandito ka sa ospital,” said Soriano, who uses the Pipol Konek to stream videos and music online.

Soriano’s senior comrade, Sgt. Agusen shares his outlook, but pointed out the most important use of a free Wi-Fi for the injured soldiers like them –communicating with their families.

“Tapos yung pamilya mo na naiwan doon, maka-chat, maka-video call mo at makausap,” said the 37-year old Agusen, who hails from Davao del Norte and only has his wife assisting him in the hospital after injuring his left leg in a bomb explosion.

No wonder, Soriano and Agusen were excited when they were informed that the DICT installed another Pipol Konek access point, in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), inside the hospital building for a faster and more reliable connection.

For the Department, the improved Pipol Konek is the earnest present to the soldiers that heroically defended the country.  The V. Luna General Hospital location is one of the 403 hospitals and health centers, and 1,035 total sites with Pipol Konek live access, as of December 22, 2017.

The DICT believes that these brave men deserve only the best services from the government, as they did not turn their back when the nation needed them. And through initiatives like providing free Internet, it is a way of the government to return the favor by committing to their needs as patients and honoring their deeds as heroes.

Truly, Sgt. Soriano’s and Cpl. Agusen’s stories stand out at the core of the Pipol Konek’s simple mission of connecting every Filipino to the Internet. By giving them a peak of the nation’s stride to progress through ICT, their unwavering dedication to serve the country continues to burn while recuperating inside the Heroes’ Ward.

“Pasyente lang kami rito, babalik pa rin kami sa serbisyo,” stressed Soriano with a smile.