FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City — The Philippine Military Academy, the country’s premier military institution, announced on Tuesday the top 10 graduating cadets of Mabalasik Class of 2019, topped by Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla of Alilem, Ilocos Sur
In a press conference, PMA Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista, said that aside from graduating valedictorian, the 22-year-old Umalla will receive 14 other special awards, including the Presidential Saber for finishing on top of the class.
She will also receive the Philippine Navy Saber, Distinguished cadet award (Starman), Academic group award, Humanities plaque, Management plaque, Social Sciences plaque, Natural Sciences plaque, Computing and Information Sciences plaque, Department of leadership plaque, the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) award, Australian Defense best overall performance, Spanish Armed Forces award, and the Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO) award.
Umalla, daughter of a retired teacher, is the fifth female cadet to land on top since the academy started accepting females in what used to be a male-dominated institution.
The first was Arlene dela Cruz in 1999, Tara Velasco in 2003, Andrelee Mojica in 2007, and Rovi Mariel Martinez in 2017.
Joining Umalla are Jonathan Eslao Mendoza, the class “Baron” or brigade commander who will join the Philippine Air Force (PAF). He is from Sangley Point Cavite and the son of an enlisted personnel from the PAF.
Landing in the third spot is Jahziel Gumapac Tandoc from La Trinidad, Benguet.
Completing the top 10 are Daniel Heinz Bugnozen Lucas of Barlig, Mountain Province (4th); Aldren Maambong Altamero of Kidapawan, North Cotabato (5th); Richard Balabag Lonogan of Sagada, Mountain Province (6th); Marnel Dinihay Fundales of Legales, Iloilo (7th); Glyn Elinor Buansi Marapao of Buguias, Benguet (8th); Ruth Angelique Ricardo Pasos of Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City (9th); and Daryl James Jalgalado Ligutan of Sta. Mesa, Manila (10th place).
The academy also identified cadets for the special awards.
Recipients of the athletic saber award are Kimberly Joy Sali-an Baculi of Tanuda, Kalinga and Nicolas Crisanto Ranguine Guysayko of Naga, Camarines Sur.
Jesriel Alvendia Calimag will receive the Chief of Staff Saber award, while Geoffrey Ortega Valdez of Mintal Davao City is a Journalism awardee.
The “Mandirigma ng Bayan, iaalay ang sarili, Lakas at Tapang, Para sa Kapayapaan” (Mabalasik) Class of 2019 entered the Philippine Military Academy on April 1, 2015 reception day with a total of 349 young aspirants — 259 males and 90 females.
There were 11 males who made it to the final screening but did not report on reception day.
There will be 263 members of the class — 186 males and 72 females who will graduate on May 26 with President Rodrigo R. Duterte leading the ceremonies as commander-in-chief and guest speaker.
Of the total number of graduating cadets, 40 are Cordillerans, followed by those from Region IV-A with 29; National Capital Region with 27; Region III with 23; Region II with 22 and Region I with 18. The other members of the class are spread out in different regions.
Fifty percent of the graduates are female.
During the presentation of the top graduates, Brig. Gen. Cheston Valencerina said the academy implements a rigid screening process that starts from the pre-qualification stage and continues until they graduate.
Liza Agoot / PNA – northboundasia.com