LtColonel James Dolittle
Without the NCO's, Officers won't have a job".True indeed that the NCO is the building block of any nation's army. They are the most numerous ones with an overwhelming ratio versus an officer in their favor. They are the ones that will do most of the figthing and the bleeding.
Joining the Philippine Army is voluntary. Young men and women who ask not what their country can do for them but what they can do for their country. Qualifications will include diploma from high school and at least 17 years of age. Good moral character, physically and mentally fit and has determination. They are recruited from local army recruiters located throughout the country basically within an military outpost. After initial testing such as written and medical examinations, a candidate recruit if accepted for training will undergo Basic Combat Training (BCT)at the sprawling acre lands of Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province.
Recruits will meet new friends, buddies and even environment. Among them will be their mentor and teacher for the weeks to come; the DI or the Drill Instructor. A sargeant or higher by rank, he is the individual that will direct the recruit the arts of military life, from eating to making up their beds, from marching to familiarizing the recruit's new found buddy - the M-16 assault rifle. There will be shouting and seemingly harassments. But the toughness are all part of the process. In the end the Recruit will come to remember his or her DI if not with affection certaintly with respect.
Basic Training will consist of a lot of PT (physical training), marches, manual of arms, escape and evasion, hand to hand combat, marsmanship, drills and ceremonies, map reading, weapons training,code of ethics, military courtesy and conduct, history and more.They will learn to dress up like soldiers, talk like soldiers, act like soldiers and look real soldiers. They are the ones indocrinated that the occupation of a soldier means giving up his life - the ultimate sacrifice from the day he graduates to the day he dies. But like any schooling Basic Training is not for everyone and only the tough ones will graduate and wear the uniform and have that opportunity to serve and protect his country.
Lapu-lapu ... Soleiman ... Ricarte ... Luna ... Bonifacio ... Del Pilar... Capinpin ... Castaneda ... Ramos ... Abat ... Brawner ... Ileto ... Abadia ... Blando ... Enrile. The names of the elite leaders are legion and legendary. Some have commanded small units such as Lt. Marcos's 4-man team in action in Mt. Natib during World War II. Some led substantial commands like Colonel Fidel Ramos PHILCAG and some led the entire army such as General Fortunato Abat.
Whoever they were and what level of command, these were the men that the Filipinos looked to for the ultimate in leadership - the men who face the toughest decisions, challenged the hardest foes, overcame the odds, and prevailed. Bravery and inspiration of such leaders led their men, who like their commands, went "against all odds".
The Philippine Military Academy is the bastion of the future leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It was Established on February 17, 1905 and first located in historical Santa Lucia Barracks in Intramurus, Manila primed to produce officers of the then Philippine Constabulary, thus it was first called the Philippine Constabulary School. On September 1, 1908 the school was moved to Baguio City within the ground of Teacher's Camp. On December 21, 1936 it was officially named Philippine Military Academy. Today, it is located in the mountain ranges on a 373 hectare land of Barangay Loakan 10 kilometers south of the resort City of Baguio north of Manila. It was moved there in 1950 and has been its permanent location ever since. The Academy is named Fort Gregorio Del Pilar *, named after the Philippine Revolutionary Brigadier General who at 21 years old became the youngest general in the Philippine Military to date.
Candidates for PMA admission requires an age bracket between 17 to 21 years of age, natural born Filipino citizen, a height of 5'4" for males and 5'2" for females, must pass the written and physical / psycholometric exam, has a grade point average of at least 80% in High School and of good moral character. Foreign students wishing to enter the PMA must also pass the same requirements. So far more than twenty foreigners mostly from South East Asian nations and the USA have graduated from the premier institution to date.
From thousands of applicants all over the country, a select group of freshman "plebe" cadets will report to the academy every April 1st. A typical profile will compose a big number of honor graduates and student leaders and a sizable number of which have also at least completed one year of college schooling. Cadets undergo a four year course and are required to finish 175 academic units where they can receive a bachelor's degree in three academic majors, either in computer science, general engineering or management. Prior to 1993, PMA cadets did not have the luxury of choosing their branch of military service until their senior "firstie" year. Under the new tri-service curriculum where the PMA used to orient itself towards the needs of the Philippine Army, it now addresses the needs of the Navy and the Air Force as well. Cadets can now know which service to enter prior to the end of their sophomore "yearling" year. They can then take specialized training courses like Marine radar / propulsion for future navy ensigns, aerodynamics / flight simulations for future air force lieutenants and the Army Infantry Weapons Effects Simulation System for future Army officers at the start of their third "cow" year. The Tri-Service curriculum prepare graduates to be ‘field-ready’, ‘fleet-ready’ or ‘squadron-ready’ and not to mention 'combat ready' officers immediately upon graduation. Graduates of the Philippine Army curriculum focuses on the knowledge and skills of management of equipments and the leadership of it's men. The Philippine Air Force curriculum will benefit in the academic "ground school" portion prior to pilot training and the Philippine Navy curriculum will assign cadets aboard ship and assume initial billet post without the need of taking the Naval Officer's Qualification course.
During the cadet's stay in the academy, they receive benefits afforded that of a full scholar for whom the government will spend P2.3 million per cadet by the time he graduates. Better than those who are enrolled in civilian institutions like the University of the Philippines that holds the same academic distinction. They receive free tuition fees, school supplies, medical and dental care, full access to modern educational and training facilities, board and lodging, more than 20 pairs of military uniform, travel across the country and selected South East Asian port of calls, receives monthly pay and allowances and the celebrity status and title of a "PMA'yer."
Cadets in the academy that excell in both academics and physical training are also rendered the opportunity to enter the United States Military Academy in West Point, the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. More than a hundred PMA'yers (thirty or so alone to West Point), male and female have been sent to these institutions to this present day.
Graduates of the PMA are required to render eigth (8) years of service within the Armed Forces of the Philippines but exceptions can be made to leave prior to the end of the eight year tour as long as they pay the government for the lost service. Fifty percent of the academy's annual crop of graduates are commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the regular Philippine Army while twenty five percent each goes to the Navy and the Air Force.
Courage, Integrity, Loyalty is the motto of the Philippine Military Academy. Patterned after the United States Military Academy it is dubbed as the "West Point of Asia," indeed it is the only Long Gray Line on the other side of the world. Graduates had served every branch of service of the the AFP on land, air and sea and in civilian post alike. Here in it's hollowed ground, many are called, but few are chosen. And of the chosen few, fewer will remain. From its pillars will come the future leaders of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.* Some Philippine historians believed that Ilocos Revolutionary commander, General Manuel Tinio was the youngest general in Philippine Military history.
The United States Military Academy in West Point, New York is the oldest of service academy of the United States. The Academy producers of many of the world's greatest military leaders sits on a 2,500 acre campus with its gray gothic buildings standing out in the bushes overlooking the majestic Hudson river.
Duty, Honor, Country is the traditional motto in which the academy was founded on. The academy formally opened on the fourth of July 1802 under the Jefferson presidency. The academy has a population of nearly 4,400 men and women. The curriculum is equally balanced between the arts and sciences leading to nearly 25 fields of study and 19 optional majors from liberal arts to engineering. Class sizes is small - between 14 to 18 cadets per class.
The student body is organized as a brigade under the command of the commandant of cadets, a brigadier general of the US Army. Cadets come from all 50 states. Several countries are represented as well. Women cadets were admitted in July 1976 and number about 10-15% of each incoming class. After graduation, a graduate called a West Pointer will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the regular US Army to serve an obligatory 5-year tour. Foreign cadets will be commissioned in their respective country.
From 1914 to 1992, the Philippines was entitled to send Filipinos who pass all the USMA entrance requirements as full scholars. This privilege, however, was discontinued in 1992. Since then, Filipino candidates have had to compete with other foreign cadets for admission to West Point.
Filipino (or foreign) cadets accepted to West Point are entitled with a full scholarship. In the event that more than one Filipino is qualified, it is under West Point regulations that only one cadet will be granted a full scholarship among those who will fill the ten slots allotted to foreign cadets. The other cadet will be a partial scholar and as such, the President of the Philippines will authorized a release from his social fund to partially defray the expenses for the cadet nominee for the cadet is required to pay $30,000.00 each year for the four-year course (equivalent to P5,133,600.00 at the Year 2004 current exchange rate). Aside from the funds from Malacanang, the AFP will also provide P400,000.00 annually for four years, the cost of maintaining a cadet at the PMA. Upon graduation, Filipino west pointers are required to serve in the AFP for eight years.
Since 1913, seventy two Filipinos have graduated from West Point and close to 30 of them were former cadets from the Philippine Military Academy. Graduates included former president Fidel Ramos, Generals Rafael Ileto, Vicente Lim, and General Narciso Abaya. Others includes Colonel Danilo Lim, Major Juluis Flores of the scout rangers and even family members such as retired Captain Romeo Posadas, class of l975 and his son, Lt. Mark A.T. Posadas, class 2002 being among its illustrius alumni.
Other Filipinos have also excelled well. In 2004, ex-PMA cadet Alexander Joseph Estomo from Bohol graduated with outstanding performance ranking 43rd in a class of 1,050 cadets. He graduated as a "starman" - equivalent to that of a cum laude - garnering a cumulative general average of 92 percent of the overall academic performance. He was also a Cadet Captain and held a regimental staff rank - a rare tradition attained by Filipino West Pointers. Estomo shares this rare distinction with General Narciso Abaya who graduated in 1971. A son of Philippine Army Colonel Alejandro Estomo of the PMA class 1979 the young Estomo joined the Philippine Army after his graudation.
Also in 2004, History was made when PMA cadet Christy Isis Achanzar of Davao City became the first female Filipino to be appointed to West Piont. Together with her classmate, Cadet Mario Feliciano of Zamboanga City they will join 1,200 cadets to make up the USMA class 2008.
Part of the country's future of military power depends on its leaders. The Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC) helps support this role by preparing young men and women for military leadership. Armed services are in need of platoon leaders in the field, billet officers aboard naval vessels and squadron officers in the air force every year as graduates from Philippine Military Schools and officer training schools are not enough to fill the required quota. And not only that ROTC graduates provide field officers but also positions in administration, management, engineering, medical, scientific and personnel positions as needed in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The Philippine ROTC program started in July 3, 1912 at the University of the Philippines when the Philippine Constabulary started conducting military instruction in the campus. Military instruction however started on July 3, 1922. Later on other Manila universities like the Ateneo de Manila, Letran College, University of Santo Tomas started to form their own units. In 1936, the Philippine Army Office of Superintendent of ROTC units assumed the responsibility to administer the ROTC training program all over the country and in 1939, the program became a compulsory course at all colleges and universities in the Philippines. In 1941, there were 33 institutions nationwide that conducted the ROTC program within their campus.
It was during World War II that the fruits of ROTC training was seen when ROTC'ians saw action for the first time. They took part in the defense of Bataan and joined the guerilla movement against the Japanese when Bataan and Corregidor fell. Others took part in the Visayan theater wherein cadets of Siliman University made up 45% of the US Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) 75th Infantry Regiment. There was also the famous Hunter's ROTC guerilla unit consisting of former cadets from the PMA and ROTC that made up the main underground resistance in the country. In Manila, ROTC units were so involved that one school, the Far Eastern University made up of its alumni and students mobilized the largest ROTC contingent in the nation to fight in the war.
In 1967, President Ferdinand Marcos a former battalion commander in the UP ROTC detachment and who took part in the defense of Bataan made again ROTC a mandatory course in all institutions with an enrollment of 250 male students.
The ROTC program in more than just a college program, It's a tradition. For many years, it has been training people to do a civilian like profession and that as an officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Today, ROTC program are available in the country's 12 regions divided in three categories providing officers not only for the Philippine Army but also the air force and navy as well. The Philippine Constabulary ROTC detachment was abolished when the PC was integrated to form the Philippine National Police.
Prospective ROTC cadets must be a full time college student usually in the school where his unit belongs. Cross training also exist when the cadet's school does not have an ROTC program. They must be Filipino citizens, be in good physical and mental condition, of good moral character and at least 17 years old. Students who aspires to become a cadet officer will undergo the Cadet Officers Candidate Course sponsored by the ROTC unit.
The ROTC program consist of two parts: the Basic Course and the Advance Course. The Basic Course is usually taken during the first two years of college and it is mandatory for all males to complete this course as a prerequisite for college graduation. Further training will lead to the Advance Course which will be taken usually during the last two years of college. Graduates from the Advance Course will then undergo the AFP sponsored 3-month Probitionary Officer's Training Course (POTC) the summer after graduating in the ROTC Advance program to be eligible for commission. After their POTC they are then commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants either in the reserve of active armed forces. Cadets in the ROTC program are not government scholars therefore they have to assume expenses to some of their needs during their training. Some schools however sponsor scholarships to deserving cadets.
In 2002, the National Service Training Program (NTSP) was signed into law and made the ROTC program no longer a prerequisite for graduation for all male college students in the Philippines. Furthermore, females were no longer exempt from national service. The Program provided all students with two options to ROTC; Literacy Training Services and Civic Welfare Service. The NTSP was created to accomodate the graduates of these programs and ROTC graduates went to the become members of the Citizen's Armed Forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Today more than 70% of the AFP officer corps, male and female is composed of ROTC graduates. They have honored names in the history of the Philippine Military. Names like Ferdinand Marcos, the only recipient on the Medal of Valor and the most decorated Filipino soldier during World War II, his division, the famed Philippine Army 21st Infantry was commanded by Gen. Mateo Capinpin, also an ROTC'ian. Others include Philippine Statesman and general Carlos P. Romulo, former Philippine Navy chief Admirals Vicente Hingco and Hilario Ruiz, General Romeo Espino, the longest serving AFP Chief of Staff, former Philippine Army Commanding General Rafael Zagala and General Alfredo Santos who became the first 4-star general in the AFP. Other prominent ROTC'ians includes Philippine Central Bank governor Rafael Buenaventura and Philippine Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr.