‘Tuba’ gatherer’s son is PMA’s class valedictorian-A A +A
Sunday, March 17, 2013
BAGUIO CITY (Updated) -- The 22-year-old Jestony Aman Lanaja, who used to sell boiled bananas and guavas to afford meals during his elementary years, bested 123 other cadets and graduated top of the "Pudang-Kalis" class of 2013 Sunday.
"At my younger years, this is what I viewed and perceived that we don't need much in order to be happy," Lanaja, who grew up in the province of Davao del Sur, said in an essay distributed to the media during the commencement exercises of Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
He is the son of Antonio and Erlinda Lanaja. Antonio is a tuba gatherer.
President Benigno Aquino III bestowed the Presidential Saber to Lanaja for being class valedictorian.
Lanaja also received the Philippine Army Saber and the General Antonio Luna Award, among others.
He said he also worked part time in a coconut farm before he was elected as a member of the Sangguniang Kabataan and entered a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda)-accredited school to take up Building Wiring Installation NC 2. He took this up until he entered the PMA.
"My personal background helped me overcome whatever challenges I encountered during our training. The road I travelled just to be in this precious destination was long and crooked. I surpassed all those rough roads and carried on the values that my parents had taught me," he said.
The "Pudang-Kalis" class 2013 has a total of 124 graduates, including 19 females.
Pudang-Kalis stands for Puso't Dangal ng mga Kawal ng Lahing Nagkakaisa or Soldiers with Heart and Honor, Unified in Strength. It was derived from a Muslim term that means "sacred sword" passed on from one generation to another.
Of the graduates, 67 will be deployed in the Army, 24 in Air Force, and 33 in the Navy.
The graduates were told by President Aquino on Sunday to always put the welfare of Filipinos above self.
"The work of the entire Filipino people brought you to today's triumph; it is my hope that your every action from here on is dedicated to this same people -- because, after all, is it not true that all problems arise from those who think only of themselves and of their own interests?" the President said in his speech during the PMA commencement exercises at Fort Gregorio H. Del Pilar, in this city.
He also encouraged the new members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to buckle down for work as their four-year "vacation" at the academy is done.
"Today you begin to put what you learned into practice," he said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)