Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saluting the Holy Father: The story of PMA's cadet Honor Guards

Cadet Denzel Corpuz leads the Honor Guard Battalion which rendered military honors for His Holiness Pope Francis at the Kalayaan Grounds of the Malacañan Palace on Friday (January 16, 2015). The Pope paid courtesy call on President Benigno S Aquino III as part of his State Visit and Apostolic Journey to the Republic of the Philippines. (Photo by Rolando Mailo/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)

I have a story about two cadets who were directed to render salute to a Pope. 

A  lot of their mistahs, even upperclassmen,  envied them for their close encounter with the charismatic leader of the Catholic Church. 

Who are the lucky guys? Ladies and gentlemen....... please meet Cadet Denzel Corpuz, 20, and his mistah, Cadet Leoncio Nico De Jesus, 21. Chin in!

They are both members of the 'Gabay-Laya' Class of 2016. Actually, they are the so-called 'cows' (PMA lingo for 3rd year cadets) who will soon assume the posts as the Brigade Commander and Deputy Brigade Commander, respectively.

They got the opportunity to see the Pope because the firstclassmen (4th year cadets) are far away for training. In short, they are currently the 'Kings of the Barracks'. Swerte!

Thanks to the current PMA curriculum, the upperclassmen were sent to TRADOC to undergo rigorous training called the Officers' Preparatory Course. They are now sweating it out under the scorching heat of the sun! Sorry, guys!

Pride and honor

For cadets, representing the PMA as part of the Honor Guard Battalion is both their pride and honor. Also, they were making history as the first cadets to render honors to a Pope inside the Malacanang Palace. 

"I take pride in representing the PMA in this momentous event. At the same time, I am honored to meet a respected leader and a superstar," said Corpuz, the youngest son of Catholic couple Allan and Marlene, both 51 years old. 

For his part, De Jesus said that saluting the pontiff was a rare privilege. Meron na nga bang sundalong nakapagsaludo sa isang Obispo?

"Not all PMA graduates can have the opportunity to salute the Holy Father in a military ceremony. I am very proud of this experience," said De Jesus, a Born Again Christian. 


During the Papal Visit, two distinct military ceremonies awaited the upcoming top 2 leaders of the PMA cadet corps.  Corpuz was assigned to lead the Arrival Honors while De Jesus was entrusted to spearhead the Foyer Honors during the pontiff's departure, both on January 16. 

Thinking about the big audience and the personalities involved in the ceremonies, both cadets felt the pressure that came with the job. They were aware that the VIP was both a Head of State and a Church Leader. 

They could not get rid of the mental baggage. The thought about the millions of people who will be watching on TV sets around the world also came to mind. They were likewise worried about the hot Manila weather.

Corpuz said that they were expected to show their best performance.

"Cadets are trained how to maintain composure despite the pressures. We are not supposed to be adversely affected by external distractions and sacrifice the quality of our performance," said Corpuz who is aspiring to become an Army Scout Ranger.

To achieve excellent performance, Corpuz prepared himself and his men for the tough job that was assigned to them. He wanted everyone to be conditioned mentally and physically so that they can attain perfection in all movements during the ceremony.

"Aside from our routine parade drills, we dedicated one week to practice our movements specifically for the honor ceremonies. We also watched our diet a few days before the D-day," he added. 

Meanwhile, De Jesus said that he wanted to showcase the PMA during the ceremony but he was worried  upon seeing that some cadets collapsed in formation during their practices.

"Our tactical officers demanded perfection and we echoed this to our subordinates. We also required the cadets to be in top shape all the time," revealed De Jesus. 

For one week, they led the members of the Honor Guard in practicing the movements during the daily drills which were held in Villamor Air Base. 

Star struck

During the arrival honors, Corpuz found himself a few steps away from the beloved pontiff. He said that he remained focused in order to avoid committing mistakes.

"I couldn't help but stare at him. Seeing him up close and personal inspired me to perform in the best manner I can," he narrated. 

Cadet Denzel Corpuz stands ramrod straight in front of Pope Francis during the Arrival Honors that was held at Malacanang Palace early morning on January 17. (Malacanang Photo Bureau)

De Jesus said that he was only about two steps away from Pope Francis during the Foyer Honors. As the ceremony started, he tried his best to stand straight, chin up high, and crisp. 

Who is 'rolling his eyeballs' in formation to stare at the Pope? Some of these cadets are actually guilty of violating this military regulation during the Foyer Honors. Cadet De Jesus is one of them. (PMA photo)

He remained almost motionless and held his sword tight. When the Pope was approaching, he couldn't help but 'roll his eyeballs'. He almost forgot to give the right command. 

"I was star-struck by his holiness. I was glancing at him while he was approaching and I almost failed to bark my orders," he said. 

Both cadets were very glad that they were able to accomplish their assigned mission 'with flying' colors. 

"I am happy of our humble contribution during the visit of Pope Francis. He had inspired us to raise the lid of our performance," said Corpuz.

They received accolades from their superiors who watched the event with their scrutinizing eyes, especially Major Vladimir Gracilla, their mentor.

"I am proud of these cadets who displayed the high standards of discipline that PMA is known for. My hardwork in supervising their daily drills paid off," said Gracilla, a member of PMA 'Sanghaya' Class of 2000.


  1. Cadet Leoncio Nico A. de Jesus II, an Officer and a Gentleman graced by God. Way to go serving the Lord and our beloved country! Kudos to your parents for raising you well. :) Also to PMA for a job well done!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thank you, Lord, for your enabling grace, sustaining strength, and protection upon our foster son, Cdt. Nico De Jesus II during this challenging time. Praise God indeed!!

  4. Job well done,pamangkin Cadet Denzel Corpuz! Praise God for everything He bestowed to you and to the whole family. Just keep your feet on the ground and be humble.

  5. Job well done,pamangkin Cadet Denzel Corpuz! Praise God for everything He bestowed to you and to the whole family. Just keep your feet on the ground and be humble.

  6. I should have said , Grandson Cadet Denzel Corpuz for your mom is my niece. So proud and glad of your achievements

  7. We, the AYLC Family, are so proud of you Cadet Nico De Jesus. Keep the passion of serving the people burning .