Friday, March 16, 2012

PMA Topnotchers: Army’s Pride

FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City----The Philippine Army, the largest branch of service in the AFP, has attracted the best and the brightest officers produced by the PMA including the new topnotcher, Cadet Tom Puertollano of PMA 'Bagwis' Class 2012.
Puertollano is  following the footsteps of his seniors, similarly distinguished cadets of their times,by choosing the adventuruous path of  Army life.
A Batangueño native from Lipa City, Puertollano is one of the 102 Cadets from the total of 187 graduates to join the Philippine Army standing to be one of the future leaders of the Filipino soldiery.

As a young boy he attended both his elementary and secondary education  inside an Air Force base, exposing him to the military circles. The sight of helicopters and light planes soaring in the skies, had helped shaped his dreams of becoming a military man someday.

His desire to help his poor family inspired him to take on a chance at the Philippine Military Academy. 
“Besides that soldiery is my dream, I know that becoming a PMA scholar can help my family financially. It also gives me a prospect for good education,” said Tom whose father is a carpenter, augmented by his mother's revenues in selling ‘kakanin’ in their village.

With his long list of PMA accomplishments, he is suddently thrown in the limelight. His initial achievements can be mirrored with those of his seniors, one being the incumbent Army chief Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista who is an achiever in his own right.

Army class marchers

In 1981,  Bautista  graduated number 7 and a 'Starman' in his class. A 'Starman' is a cadet who has received both the Dean's List Award and the Commandant's List Award in a certain semester, earning for him a slot in the elite roster of the so-called PMA Superintendent's List.

As a son of an Army general, the Army was Bautista's preferred service branch. As the Army Class Marcher (top cadet joining the Army), he also received the Army Saber award on top of the  JUSMAG  award that he also earned for topping all the military courses.
He is a proud Scout Ranger who gallantly fought in the frontlines during his younger days, is known to be the brain behind the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan.

Another former PMA 'Starman' who joined the Philippine Army is  Lt Col Rommel Cordova, the present  Chief of Strategy Management branch, OG5 of the  Philippine Army. 

When he graduated as a member of PMA 'Maalab' Class of 1993, he received the Presidential Saber award and the Army Saber award. Notably, another 'Starman' and the number 2 in his class, Lt Col Elmer Suderio, also selected the Army as his service of choice.
Like  Bautista and Cordova, Cadet Puertollano will receive several recognitions come graduation day on March 18, including the Presidential Saber award from President Aquino and the Army Saber award from General Bautista.
Interestingly, these men of notable academic and military commendations all chose to take the difficult  road to soldiery when they can always opt to a more convenient path. They share the common belief that praises and recognitions that they earned in the PMA will be meaningless if they will not give back by serving the people.

Puertollano is soon to join these men to stamp his own legacy in the Army's transformation roadmap.

Joining the military service

Unlike Puertollano whose foremost reason is to help his family financially, Gen Bautista joined the service to carry on the bequest of his father who died as an honourable soldier. 

Both Bautista and Puertollano  have dreamed of donning the military uniform by becoming a soldier since high school. 
Puertollano's parents fully supported him; in contrast,  Bautista’s mother unyieldingly opposed, offering his young son a brand new car just to discourage from from pursuing a career in the military.
Yet, determined as he is, Bautista persisted and found himself dodging enemy bullets in Mindanao as a young Scout Ranger. Later, he would become a true peace advocate and climbed the ladder of the military hierarchy to become Army chief.

As for Cordova, he primarily took the PMA challenge since his father cannot support his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. His interest was as well-driven by his fancy with military uniforms.

“The Army is perceived to be the hardest branch of service but I was ready for the challenges. I was young and adventurous and Army is where I saw the essence of leadership besides, impressive mentors, leaders and academic achievers are mostly in the Army,” Cordova recounted.

Financial reasons were the common ground for Puertollano and  Cordova, but both have developed the love for their chosen profession since their cadet days which initially exposed them to an Army life.

When he experienced the combat training introduced by the Scout Rangers during the Leadership Development Course, Puertollano had began to appreciate the true meaning of leading people. He had also watched footages of the Army's peace and development missions in the field.

“I chose to be in the Army because it is where I can have direct involvement with the people. I can a true leader and a brave combatant, most of all, I can effect change to the community where I will be in,” said Puertollano.

Agents of change

Puertollano is not only a stone’s throw away from his dream, but also he has the chance to contribute to the growth of the uniformed service.

“I admire my leaders and so when I become one, I particularly want to focus on the capability of the Army. I would like to address concerns so that we can achieve complete transformation and that misleading issues will no longer be a problem,” Puertollano, who also wants to be a future Army chief, shared.

Cordova said that he and his colleagues are happy that Puertollano is joining the Army.

“He has chosen the right branch of service. In line with the achievement of our ATR, we aim to recruit the best and the brightest and he is an important element in achieving the vision,” said Cordova, one of the advocates of the Army Transformation Roadmap. 

He added that Puertollano should start thinking on how he can contribute by joining the service and that he should continue the excellence in his works.
Bautista,  Cordova and the incoming 2nd Lieutenant  Puertollano are just few of the many soldiers resonating zeal and brilliance in uniform. The likes of them become an inspiration to those who aspire to serve.
Until there are men like them, the Army shall continue to live and be of service to the nation.

By March 18, Sunday, the Army marcher of PMA Class of 1981, Lt General Emmanuel Bautista, will present the CGPA Saber to the Army marcher of PMA Class of 2012, incoming 2nd Lieutenant Tom Puertollano, 21.

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