FOR most people, the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine National Police are worlds where only men rule, but two women in uniform are calling the shots in these forces.
Maj. Florianne Reyes flies a nomadic aircraft and is one of 20 female pilots working at the Air Force base in Lapu-Lapu City.
Police Senior Inspector Arieza Otida, on the other hand, heads Police Station 8, making her the only female police chief among the 11 police stations in Cebu City.
But behind the uniforms and the badges were then young daughters who chose to set aside their own dreams to fulfill their respective parents’ wishes.
Reyes just graduated with a baccalaureate degree in Business Management in the University of the Philippines Visayas, while Otida was already in her third year of law school when they entered their respective academies.
“Being an Air Force officer has always been my father’s dream. When he saw an add on a local newspaper that the Air Force was looking for candidates, he immediately asked me to apply,” Reyes said.
The 34-year-old, who admitted being leaner than most candidates, had to endure strenuous physical trainings and demanding mental tests to live the dream her dad had for her.
Six years later, Reyes not only finished the academy as one on the best in her class, but is also the first uniformed member of her family.
Otida, for her part, joined the force to fulfill the wishes of her retired police officer parents.
The 35-year-old, who is now in her twelfth year in the service, said it was her love for her parents that made her time in the academy bearable and even enjoyable.
“I still want to be a lawyer, but I have grown to love the profession because of the achievements I was able to attain in the past years,” she said.
While leading a police station covering the most number of barangays in the city may not be easy, Otida was able to gather around 1,500 drug surrenderers during the early stages of Oplan Tokhang.
In fact, she has been awarded by the police central office for having the highest number of Tokhang surrenderers in Central Visayas.
Aside from leading their respective teams, the two women are also mothers and wives to members of the force, too.
Reyes married her sweetheart in the academy in 2015. Two years later, the couple are now parents to two kids, the youngest of whom Reyes gave birth last Oct. 29.
Barely six months later, she is set to fly one of the three 70-seater airbuses donated by Spain.
Otida and her non-commissioned police officer husband, on the other hand, are proud parents to two boys and two girls.
While both women claim having been “blessed” with understanding and supportive husbands, the mothers admitted having difficulty in juggling work and spending time with their children.
As the Women’s Month celebration comes to an end, both women shared having the same dream of having a more gender-sensitive workplace and to eradicate discrimination.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on March 30, 2017.
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