PAMPANGA

Sangil: The men in uniform

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I REMEMBER reading a column of Ramon Farolan, a retired Air Force general now writing for Philippine Daily Inquirer, and wrote about the yearly reunions in February of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in its campus in Fort Del Pilar in Loakan, Baguio City.

It was one well-written item I tremendously enjoyed reading, because somehow he ushered us civilians into the life of men in uniform. Their fellowship, camaraderie, and brotherhood.

Farolan revved back into government service and was one time served as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs. He must be now in his eighties, since he was a member of Class '56. In his writings I can sense that his memories in his cadetship still lingers.

I am somehow perplexed how in the world comrade in arms, your seniors at that in the academy coming out public and crucify a fellow ayer on an event that happened three years ago. (I am not saying former Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde is not guilty or not guilty of wrongdoing).

"In search of truth!" To me that's hard to accept. It comes to as a lot of bulls**t. There's an axe grinding here. Nothing remarkable can be achieved in that Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, except some people believe that they are modern super heroes who will correct what ails this country.

They out talk themselves while kleig lights of TV cameras were on.

Remember how then Senator Antonio Trillanes badgered the late then Secretary Angelo Reyes, also an ayer. Maybe he wasn't able to withstand accusations from a fellow ayer, that's why he killed himself. I said just maybe.

The PMA is a place of rituals.

As told by my best friend, former Flag-Officer-in-Command retired Vice Admiral Ferdinand 'Toto' Golez of class 76, what is most faithfully observed are the drills.

And more than the drills, it is the camaraderie and brotherhood that covering when one is in crisis and not indifference will prompt who can.

One visit I made sometime in early eighties at the PMA, I saw how the cadets marched at the Borromeo Field, and enjoyed the atypical performance. They marched on the barking of their commander and were in cadence.

We speculated at that time some of these cadets maybe be assigned in Pampanga after graduation, and it became true because some held rank positions here.

I was able to made discussions with some who in the latter years climbed the star ranks and were assigned in Camp Olivas in the City of San Fernando.

Flashback: One of the well-loved constabulary officers was the late J.P. Santos '56.

Originally from Sta. Maria, Bulacan, he married a Tadeo girl from Porac.

In most weekends, he hanged around with drinking buddies at a corner store in Nepo Mart in Angeles City.

He went ahead to meet his maker and possibly now reaping his rewards, some stars in his shoulders, in heaven ahead of his mistahs Farolan, who Romy David served as Clark Development Corporation President and Tony Fernando served as Executive Officer of the Mount Pinatubo Commission.

In my early years as a reporter covering Camp Olivas for Daily Star, Silvestre Songco of Manila Times, Tony Torres of Manila Bulletin, Hector Soto of Evening News, Ben Gamos of Manila Chronicle, and Fred Roxas of Philippine News Service were main fixtures at the camp.

With these veteran reporters I met, talked and in some instances had drinking sessions with these military and police officials. Some were mere acquaintances.

One of the most colorful was Amado "Spines" Espino of class '72. (He recently survived recently the second attempt in his life) He was credited for the capture of the most wanted NPA leaders in the seventies, Bernabe Buscayno alias Commander Dante. He never reached a general rank, but became congressman and governor of Pangasinan.

The list of of PMAers assigned here is quite long, and this tight column space of this paper cannot accomodate them all.

Maybe in later time, with further research we can write a book about them.

Some names you and I remember were Dodong Resos, Sammy Tomas, Ador De Guzman, Vic Garcia, Tom Diaz, Emilio Zerrudo, Felizardo Tanabe, Tom Manlongat, Oscar Florendo, Valerio Perez, Eduardo Batalla, Vicente Tongson, Ed Manaay, Hermogenes Ebdane and many more. I met almost all. They never talk ill against their fellow officers.

All these men in uniform passed the portals of Camp Olivas.


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