Philippine Military Academy Graduation Exercises History and Tradition

History of the Philippine Military Academy

The Philippine Military Academy traces its beginnings to the officers’ school of the Philippine Constabulary in Manila which opened on February 15, 1905 at the Sta. Lucia Barracks in Intramuros.

The school transferred to Baguio three years later, on September 1, 1908, with Major James F. Quin as Head. The passage of Act No. 2319 by the Philippine Legislature on April 14, 1914, provided funds for the maintenance of the officers’ school. Subsequently, Act No. 2605 was passed on February 4, 1916 and renamed the school “Academy for Officers of the Philippine Constabulary.” It extended its course of instruction to carry out its mission to train men to become officers of the Philippine Constabulary. The passage of this Act marked the beginning of the requirement that candidates must pass a competitive examination.

On December 8, 1926, Act No. 3496 was passed by the Philippine Legislature and declared the official name of the school as the Philippine Constabulary Academy. The nine-month course transitioned to two years until it became three years in accordance with the provision of a subsequent amending Act. Modification of the act also provided for strengthening its faculty and the readjustments of its curriculum.

By this time, the Academy had already earned the status of college. Colonel R.A. Buckworthford, who was the Superintendent from 1929 to 1932, stated:

“The Academy is vested by law with the status of a college. The diplomas awarded to the Academy graduates should be recognized as equivalent to an AB or BS degree in the same way as West Point diplomas are recognized by most universities and other collegiate institutions in the United States.”

The rise of the Constabulary Academy to full college status came with the passage of Commonwealth Act No. 1 (the National Defense Act) on December 21. 1935. Prior to the Commonwealth, the colonial status of the Philippines meant that it could not provide for its own armed forces. With the transition period to full independence; however, the Commonwealth government embarked on putting in place the institutions necessary for a professional officer corps. The academy further extended its course of instruction to four years, conferred on its graduates the degree of Bachelor of Science, and authorized the final change of its name to “Philippine Military Academy.” In signing the National Defense Act, Pres. Manuel L. Quezon reaffirmed the need for a competent officers’ school and its important role in the building of a strong Philippines.

From the time of its transfer to Baguio on September 1, 1908 to 1936, the Academy was situated on Constabulary Hill, which was subsequently named Camp Henry T. Allen in honor of the man who was greatly responsible for its growth and development. In 1936, the Academy transferred to a bigger though temporary location, at Teacher’s Camp also in Baguio City. Again, the Academy saw extensive changes in its course of instructions in both military and academic courses.

The outbreak of World War II disrupted entirely what had auspiciously begun. The cadets of Class’42 and ’43 graduated ahead of schedule. They and their officers and instructors were assigned to combat units in Bataan and other sectors of the country.

The Philippine Military Academy officially reopened on May 5, 1947 in Baguio City. Classes began on the first week of June and were held at the old Camp Allen. Rehabilitation and development went hand in hand with the training of the then singular class of cadets. In the absence of upperclassmen, a few members of Class ’44 and ’45 were given the responsibility of indoctrinating the cadets until the integration of underclassmen to the Corps. Because of the need for wider grounds, a site in Loakan was acquired. The Academic Building, which was constructed at a cost of P 1,300.000, was initially erected on this new camp. Because the Corps was still small, the Academic Building was used as barracks and classrooms for the cadets. In early 1963, it was given the name Melchor Hall, after Col. Alejandro Melchor, who was Dean of the Academy.

After the construction of Melchor Hall, additional buildings were built. There were the officers’ quarters, the Station Hospital, and Yap Hall, which served as the cadet mess hall. For sports, a gymnasium was built and named Jurado Hall. There is also the covered court complex that doubles as auditorium, martial arts facilities, three tennis courts and a 25 meter swimming pool.

To accommodate the increasing number of cadets, three additional barracks were constructed – the Regis Hall, the Central Barracks, and the Mayo Hall, and two newly constructed barracks which are collectively called Ramos Hall.

The Philippine Military Academy today has undergone innovations—the Tri-Service Curriculum, infrastructure projects, the Faculty Merit System, and the acceptance of women into the Cadet Corps.

The Academy continues to be a symbol, a name, and a school. It epitomizes the best traditions of the service. It bears the standards of character founded on honor and fortified by discipline. It is a school that has trained men for over eighty years in the defense of the state and furtherance of peace and order. It has a proud heritage to cherish, a glorious tradition to uphold, a noble standard to maintain, and a vital mission to accomplish.

With its history considered, the Academy continues to endure and looks forward to the future guided by its motto “COURAGE, INTEGRITY, AND LOYALTY.” Source: PMA; with edits by the PCDSPO

The Philippine Military Academy Laon-Alab Class of 2011,

By: Angelo Edward Buan Parras, valedictorian of Laon-Alab Class of 2011, and official class historian

The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 2011 named Lakas Tipon Alagad ng Bayan (Laon-Alab) is composed of 196 graduates led by valedictorian Cadet First Class Angelo Edward Buan Parras.

Out of the 4,994 applicants who took the PMA entrance examination on August 2006, only two hundred fifty eight (258) men and thirty (30) women were able to surpass the rigid challenges prior to cadetship. These young men and women topped thousands of other aspirants from all over the country in competing for the most coveted cadetship slot at the Philippine Military Academy. Consequently, this brave group had to face the traditional reception rites on April 1, 2007. Since that day, this class has demonstrated its iron determination, for PMA class 2011 is one of the few who managed to finish the 30 minutes of hell without suffering any attrition. From that moment on, life for them has never been the same again. While all their youth counterparts were enjoying summer vacation with their families and friends, these cadets had to face rigorous challenges and training programs just to transform themselves into regimented soldiers who are ready to protect the land anytime they may be summoned.

Named Laon-Alab, this class drew inspiration from the magnificence of the natural element of fire being the primary source of all energies in the universe. They have their determination and passion for the service set on an ever-burning flame which they exemplified through their initiatives started even during their underclass years. This includes the pioneered annual class Christmas Party which integrated charity programs for the needy group of their choice.

Come first-class year, the class continued espousing its value of ever-burning passion through its initiative to improve the cadet corps starting from the enhancement of the aesthetic appeal of the guard room. Having no sufficient budget for the said project, the class never lost hope and employed their resourcefulness and creativity to accomplish their mission. Another class initiative was the project to air news at the Yap Hall. This demonstrated how the class valued the society as a whole by making everyone aware of the current events not just in the whole country but the whole world. Most importantly, the class also revived several corps organizations like the Discussion and Debate Society and Mathematics Club which helped foster excellence through extra-curricular activities.

Laon-Alab stands for Lakas-Tipon Alagad ng Bayan or “The Strong Force of the Servants of the Land.” Being a strong force, the class indubitably exhibited unity through its many achievements. Among them is the incomparable Silent Drill Company of the Laon-Alab class 2011 which earned several awards including military merit and commendation medals. From fourth class year until now, the company has accomplished more than 50 exceptional performances all across the land and brought joy to several people around the country. Another achievement includes the highly commendable 100th Nite Show performance which earned praises not just from organic personnel but also from civilians outside PMA. Entitled “Bukang Liwayway”, the presentation deviated from the traditional frolics-oriented one to a more entertaining popular-culture driven show.

Following a tradition dating back to 1938, Cadet Parras will be receiving the Presidential Saber from President Benigno S. Aquino III during the graduation ceremonies in the PMA grounds, Fort del Pilar, Baguio City. Hailing from Apalit, Pampanga, Cadet Parras will also be conferred 14 other awards, including the Join United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) award for being the Philippine Navy’s top graduate.

PMA graduation exercise traditions

The Valedictorian and the Baron

The Presidential Saber is traditionally given by the incumbent President of the Philippines to the PMA Class Valedictorian. The 2011 recipient of the Presidential Saber is Cadet Parras.

Cadet First Class John Guiang, in the meantime, serves as the first captain of the cadet corps, by tradition called the Class Baron of 2011.

The presidential saber was first awarded by President Manuel L. Quezon in 1938 to Cadet Aristeo Ferraren, also the Baron of his class.

As per correspondence between columnist Ramon J. Farolan and blogger Winston Arpon, only three recipients of the Presidential Saber were also the Barons of their class: Cadet Leopoldo Regis, class of 1951 (and who died in the plane crash that also claimed President Magsaysay’s life in 1957), Cadet Manuel Arevalo, class of 1964, and Cadet Ferraren.

The Goat

The Goat is the cadet who graduates last in the class. This tradition was carried over from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Though discontinued at West Point since 1978, every cadet at the graduation ceremony knows who the class Goat is and when his or her name is read in the alphabetical list, the crowd bursts into sustained cheers.

Distribution of Rank Insignia

In 1957, Pilar Hidalgo Lim, wife of the late General Vicente Lim, started the tradition of giving all members of the PMA graduating classes their First Rank insignia, which they call their “Lieutenant’s triangles.” Every year, as a pre-graduation rite, the insignias are given to every member of the graduating class, together with 2 letters: a copy of the original letter of Mrs. Pilar Lim, and a letter of a representative of the Lim family, which has continued the tradition. This year, the Distribution of rank insignias was held on March 4, Friday.

Official class names

The tradition of naming PMA Classes started with the Dimasupil class of 1967 as a verbal representation of the collective aspirations of the class. As stated above, the class of 2011 is named Laon-Alab, following their aspirations to be “The Strong Force of the Servants of the Land.”

Source: The Philippine Military Academy
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