Issue of March 12, 2017
Mt. Province

66th Courier Anniversary Issue
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8 female topnotchers break century–old history of PMA
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

WOMEN POWER -- The eight female top graduates of Philippine Military Academy Salaknib Class of 2017  led by Navy Cadet 1CL Rovi Mairel Valino (center-second row) of Cabanuatuan City and one special awardee pose for posterity after making history for having the most number of female topnotchers since the Academy opened its doors to women in 1994. In top 3 is Navy Cadet 1CL Eda Glis Buansi Marapao of Benguet (2nd from left-front row). -- Harley Palangchao



This year’s batch of graduates from the country’s premier military school will not only be led by a female valedictorian; it also marks a place in history for having 63 female cadets, the most number of women graduates since the first batch of seven female cadets graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1997.

There’s more. The PMA’s “Sanggalang ay Lakas at Buhay na Alay para sa Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan” or Salaknib Class of 2017 marches today, March 12, with eight women on the top 10, the highest since seven females graduated from the academy 20 years ago.

The international women’s month celebration turned even more meaningful with Cadet First Class (CFC) Rovie Mairel V. Martinez, 22, of Cabanatuan City – who almost quit during the first years of her training – leading the 167 Salaknib members as the class valedictorian.

Heeding the advice of her parents and friends, Martinez persevered and finished on top of her class. She will receive the Presidential Saber, Philippine Navy Saber, graduating as cum laude, Academic Group Award, Social Sciences Plaque, Navy Prof Courses Plaque, Jusmag,  the Association of General and Flag Officers, Spanish, and Australian Defense Force awards.

Cordilleran pride, CFC Eda Glis B. Marapao of La Trinidad, Benguet and Baguio, whose mother is from Buguias, Benguet and father is from Mindanao is in top 3, and a cum laude. Marapao, who is writer-poet, will receive the Secretary of National Defense Saber. She is the youngest among the 2017 graduates at 21.

Other females in top 10 are top 4 CFC Cathleen Jovi S. Baybayan from Pampanga, and also receiving the Australian Defence Best Overall Performance Award, Natural Sciences Plaque; CFC Sheila Joy R. Jallorina of Nueva Vizcaya in top 6 and a recipient of theTactics Group Award, Department of Leadership Plaque, Air Force Prof Courses Plaque, and Aguinaldo Saber.

The other female topnotchers are CFC Sheila Marie C. De Guzman of Manaoag, Pangasinan in top 7 and a recipient of the Army Prof Courses Plaque; CFC Joyzy M. Funchica of Butuan City in top 8; CFC Resie Jezreel A. Hucalla of Compostela Valley in top 9 and a recipient of the Management Plaque; and CFC Catherine Mae E. Gonzales from Zamboanga City completing the top 10 graduates.

Other female members of the batch receiving special recognitions are Michelle S. Calusor of Naga City, who gets the Journalism Award; Karen Joy B. Gamboa of Cabanatuan City as the Computing and Info Sciences Plaque awardee; and Ma. Isaia Pearl P. Paracale of Iloilo for the Mathematics Plaque.

The Salaknib Class trained under another female, Lt. Col. Leah Lorenzo-Santiago, who is their senior tactical officer and one of the first female graduates of PMA.

The two males in the top 10 are First Class Cadets Philip M. Viscaya of Albay, the class salutatorian, and Carlo Emmanuel M. Canlas of Pampanga, who ranked fifth.

PMA officials led by PMA Superindent, Lt/Gen. Donato San Juan II, said the cadets were ranked based on merits and performances in the academy and everybody has been treated equally.

All top members of the class expressed their willingness to be assigned in combat duty and to serve in their assigned capacities in the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Martinez is the fourth female to top a PMA graduating class. The first top woman cadet is the late Arlene dela Cruz who led the Masikhay Class of 1999. She died in a road accident in 2008.

Second is Tara Velasco of Mandarangan Class 2003, followed by Andrelee Mojica of Maragtas Class of 2007.

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