A WOMAN topped the Philippine Military Academy’s “Mabalasik” (Mandirigma ng Bayan Lakas at Sarili Iaalay para sa Kapayapaan) Class of 2019 while four Cordillerans were included in the Top 10.
Cadet Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla from Allilem, Ilocos Sur is the 5th female to top Asia’s premier military school and is set to be awarded by President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday, May 26.
“It is not about being male or female, it is about what you will be able to contribute to the PMA and the country,” said the 21–year–old incoming Navy Ensign.
Umalla is the only girl in a family of three brothers with one of hes sibling a member the Philippine National Police.
Umalla is daughter of Dionisia, a retired chemistry teacher from the Allilem National High School and hopes to see her father, Reuben, a soldier, who has been estranged from their family.
“Kung makaka punta siya (to my graduation) I would very much appreciate,” saying her father was stationed in Mindanao.
Umalla said despite being separated and no contact with her father, she still has beautiful memories and feels very close to him.
PMA Superintendent Ronnie Evangelista said a balanced graduating class is seen now with five males and females in the Top 10 out of the 263 graduating cadets with 190 males and 73 females.
Evangelista said a curriculum focused on national security is now being implemented in the academy.
Umalla will receive the Presidential Saber, Philippine Navy Saber, Distinguished Cadet Award, Academic Group Award, Plaques for Humanities, Management Plaque, Social Science, Natural Science, Computing and Information Sciences, Department Leadership, Jusmag, Austrailian Defense Best Overall Performance, Spanish Armed Forces, and the Afro Award.
Cadet Jonathan Eslao Mendoza from Cavite City is in second spot and will be given the vice presidential saber, Philippine Air Force saber, Aguinaldo saber and the Australian Defense Best Overall Performance.
Placing third is Jahziel Gumpac Tandoc from La Trinidad, Benguet who will receive the saber awards for SND, Philippine Army, and plaques for Army Professional Courses and the Australian Defense Best Overall Performance.
On fourth spot is Daniel Heinz Bugnosen Lucas from Barlig, Mountain Province will receive the Air Force Professional Courses Plaque while fifth is Aldern Maambong Altermerano from North Cotabato who will get the General Antonio Luna Award.
Included in the top of the class are cadets Richard Balabag Lonogan from Sagada, Mt. Province; Marnel Dinhay Fundales of Leganes, Iloilo: Glyn Elinor Buansi Marapao from Bugiuas, Benguet; Ruth Angelique Ricardo Pasos from Pasig City and Daryl James Jalgaldo Ligutan of Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Some 134 choose the Philippine Army, with 63 going to the Air Force and 66 in the Navy.
Since the academy started accepting women in 1993, few women have been known to reach the top spot.
The first valedictorian was Arlene Dela Cruz in 1999 followed by Tara Velasco in 2003, Andrelee Mojica in 2007 and Rovi Mariel Martinez in 2017.