Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Alumni Homecoming of the Philippine Military Academy

This is the premier military school in the country, the Philippine Military Academy. I spent my 4 years as a cadet in this institution from 1990-1994.

Graduates of the PMA flock to their alma mater in Loakan, Baguio City every February to attend the Alumni Homecoming events. 

Let me share my thoughts about this event.

Every cadet has his own fond memories about cadetship. I have plenty of these. All of the Cavaliers (as what PMA graduates are called), have their share of memorable experiences when they struggled to survive both the rigid military training and the difficulties brought about by their academic requirements. 

Graduates and former cadets are bonded by these common experiences. Those who belong to the same corps of cadets in a given period of time tend to be closer to each other due to these shared experiences. For example, I can relate my own unique experiences with those who belong to the PMA Classes of 1991 up to 1997.

This is the Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines. They are  formed at the Borromeo Field. The Brigade Commander and his staff is shown in the foreground.

There are eight companies that comprise the CCAFP. These companies are called by their alphabetical and traditional designations. Alpha Company is also known as the 'Alpha Indians', with the Apache Indian as its mascot. I belong to the Hawk Company, also known as the 'Hawk Hunters'. Our company mascot is the hawk.

When I was a first class cadet, I popularized the term 'Mabangis' referring to the Hawk Hunters. This term is still used up to this day. If you see a cadet from Hawk Company, simply growl at the top of your lungs this way, "Hunteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrs!"; they will reply, "Mabangis!".

Other companies have their own traditions related to this as well. For example, if  you see a guy from Foxtrot Company, the 'challenge' is 'Foxtrooooooooooooooooot!', you will get the reply, "Coooooollllll!". These are examples of PMA cadet traditions. I could not enumerate all of them in one sitting.

While negotiating the winding road towards Loakan, I was trying to spot for the tarpaulin bearing the name of our class. Near the entrance gate, I finally saw one of the tarps. Ask any of my 'mistahs' (PMA classmate), he will proudly declare that this is the best tarpaulin. He will also say that our class is the best among all other classes since PMA was established, without batting an eyelash.  

This is the beautiful entrance gate of Fort General Gregorio Del Pilar. This is named after the hero of Tirad pass, 'Ka Goyong', the brave young soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice against the attacking American forces.

About 10 meters in front of this gate is a metal that covers a canal that crossed the road. It has a distinctive sound "clang! clang!" when this metal is rolled over by the PMA bus that carried us outside camp during parades in Manila or during field training exercises in nearby province of La Union.

 When I was a plebe, our upperclassmen usually said, "Plebes, back to normal. Head up!", everytime this distinctive sound is heard. I sometimes react to this 'clang! clang!' sound by performing the neck-aching 'head-up' everytime I visit our beloved institution years after my graduation.

This is the location of the Sundial where the traditional 'dunking' is done during birthdays, victory parties and graduation day. In the traditional 'dunking, senior cadets are 'tickled', 'punched', and thrown to this pool by junior cadets as part of the tradition. There is a fountain which bears the logos of the cadet companies around its column.

This is the Sundial. According to tradition, plebes belonging to the Alpha Company, are responsible for its daily maintenance. During our plebehood, mistahs from that company polish the brass parts before sunrise. Ask an 'old' Alpha Indian, he will share the story, especially the funny experiences about this tradition.

When I saw a female cadet, I directed her to come near me to 'scrutinize' her. When I was a graduating cadet in 1993, the first batch of female cadets joined the cadet corps (whether we liked it or not).

Present cadets still look snappy and I am proud of them. Do you know that the small black 'purse' that is attached to their uniform used to contain white handkerchief and candies? When we were plebes, we put some candies like the  Snow Bear and Curly Tops inside this container.

This is the office where our Tactical Officers are lurking. I met two of my immediate seniors from the PMA Class of 1993, Sir Levi (2nd from left), and Sir Louie (3rd from left) who gladly granted a photo ops with me and my mistah, Jake. Both seniors are my companymates, therefore they are 'Hunters' like me.

In the grandstand, the VIPs are watching the events together with the Guest of Honor. DND Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of the PMA Class 1968 graced the occasion. With him are the senior leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines including the CSAFP, CG PA, CG PAF, FOIC PN. The Chief PNP and Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard were there too. As part of the tradition, the oldest surviving alumnus is given a special seat at the grandstand.

Some of the PMAers are still fond of 'tackling' their juniors just for the fun of it. I heard about the stories that circle around, telling the scene when the late Col Mapagtapat Ongchangco of PMA Class 1942, directed then DND Secretary Renato De Villa of PMA Class 1957, to carry his suitcase sometime in the 1990s.. 

Homecoming uniforms

Different PMA classes have their style of uniform. Some presented themselves like cowboys while others wear part of the cadet uniform, the corps jacket. (Photos by SSg Cesar Cuenca)

Others came in their coat and tie.
Some prefer to come in blue colored barong
Some wear the famous Barong Tagalog

The PMA Class 1997 is the first batch with female cadets. We were the firstclass (4th year) cadets when these ladies 'invaded' the men-dominated CCAFP.

The PMA Class of 1993 cavaliers are our yearling buddies (2nd year cadets).

I proudly marched with my mistahs, recalling the times when we formed in the same grounds during parades and inspections. Like all other PMA classes, a cadet is assigned as a color bearer, carrying the banner of the snappiest class (according to all members of PMA 1994).

During our parade, my son took this photo from behind a pine tree. All attendees had the chance to come near the cadet formation and 'tackle' the juniors! (Photo by Mikhail Harvey Cabunoc)

Color bearers are formed in the middle of the formation area. The building in the background reminds all attendees about the PMA Motto: Courage, Integrity, Loyalty.

To most of us, the Alumni Homecoming is also about refreshing the ideals taught to every cadet. It is about remembering that our institution has not failed in honing us to be among the  excellent leaders in this country.


  1. Sir, if I may ask...

    I'm very brave I know but I badly need your comment regarding our academic compliance, Sir...

    I am Cadet 3Cl Mahor of Hawk Company, Sir! (bracing up!)
    i need some of your words regarding this: practices/culture of Hawk company and its implication to the academic performance of the cadets, Sir.

    Please, do reply, Sir.


    Good evening, Sir!

  2. Cadet Mahor,

    Your question is languishing in my heart, devoured myself and totally polluted my mind because it is as vague as the thick fogs of Loakan!

    We had a different culture/practices in the past. In fact, our class changed many malpractices which we thought was detrimental to the growth of the cadets as future leaders.

    You can probably ask the plebes of Hawk Company who are members of PMA 1997 which changes we implemented during our time as firstclassmen. They maybe 'small things' but it had a lasting impact. You will learn what notable changes that we started and what happened when the same plebes that we led, became firstclassmen in 1996.

    I myself became 'victim' to the bad practices in Hawk Company during my time. Our study period is not religiously implemented and there were too many unorthodox 'tasks'.

    There were nice practices which I liked such as the strong camaraderie, the warrior spirit taught to us and the perseverance despite all the physical/mental hardships that we encountered.

    There is no perfect world and all we can do is change the things that we think are obstacles to our drive to become a professional organization.

    I am tired of someone who is fond of complaining but DID NOTHING to solve the problems in their own level of influence.

    Leadership is not about position or rank; it is about INFLUENCE. Do what is right and influence the others to follow your example. By doing what is right, you will influence even your seniors.

  3. To Rolando Macalintal, Security director of Manila Ocean Park, if you cant pay your damages of my friend's Mercedes Benz and cant keep ur stupid promises, don't drink and drive asshole.

  4. You are a disgrace to PMA class 93, nakakahiya ka! You have no sense of honesty,integrity and respect! How can you afford to live with yourself?

  5. iwa mahor, ang kapal ng mukha mong magtanong ng ganyan sa isang officer.
    wala kang pinagkaiba sa civilian.

  6. iwa mahor, yearling (2nd year) ka na wala ka pang alam. civies na civies ka pa rin hanggang ngayon.
    anong klaseng training ang pinagdaanan mo? you do not desserve to be in the AFP.
    the mere fact na nagtanong ka ng ganyan sa isang opisyal is a proof na mahina kang klase.
    to make matters worse, sinabi mo pang pls, do prely, sir. ang kapal naman ng mukha mong magsabi ng ganyan. lumagay ka sa lugar iho. ang lambot mo pare. magresign o AWOL ka na lang.

  7. Sorry, mga hijos. Pasensya at mangisturbo lang sa discussion nyo. Wala na kasi akong mapakisuyuan dyan sa Fort del Pilar. I e-mailed those in the PMA website (RSO, Registrar), but to no avail. Bibili lang sana ako ng mga items like chevron (complete set) at ipaframe ko ilagay ko among my other memorabilias in the service. Anybody na may contact dun, makisuyo lang sana - kasi Cebu-based naman ako at bihirang mapadpad sa Baguio. TY much. I am willing to pay, including the aircargo expenses. My email address is