13 March 2012

Batangueño Tops PMA Class 2012


A carpenter’s son from Lipa City, Batangas has made it to the top of this year’s graduating class of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and is set to join the Army, a military official revealed Monday.
Major Harold Cabunoc, Philippine Army (PA) spokesman, said CadetTom Puertollano, 21, is among the 102 incoming Second Lieutenants who will join the Army after their graduation on Sunday, March 18.
“Cadet Puertollano is among the would-be Army officers who were received by Army Chief, Lt General Emmanuel Bautista at the Army headquarters after finishing their on-the-job training (OJT) at the 16th Infantry Battalion in Baras, Rizal, last week,” said Cabunoc.

As the No.1 graduate out of the 187 members of PMA “Bagwis” Class of 2012, Puertollano will receive the coveted Presidential Saber Award from President Benigno S. Aquino III, and the Army Saber Award from the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
Puertollano’s batch, which has 19 female members, is known as the PMA’s “Bagwis” (Bagong Kawal na may Iisang Lakas) Class and has been referred to as “physically strong” by Major General Nonato Peralta, PMA Superintendent.
“This class is a class with a strong sense of “bayanihan;” warriors but approachable and down-to-earth, with the ability to talk and deal with anybody – even the members of the community and the leftist groups,” said Peralta.
The second placer of Bagwis Class is Jose Mari Cabrera, 22, of Cebu City, who will receive the Vice-presidential Saber, Air Force Professional Course Plaque, JUSMAG Service award for being the top graduate joining the Philippine Air Force (PAF). He will also receive the PAF Service Award.
Third placer is Lucien Jay Gumban Caiman of Taguig City, who will receive the Secretary of National Defense Award Saber, the Navy Professional Course Plaque, and JUSMAG award for being the top graduate joining the Philippine Navy.
He will also receive the Philippine Navy saber and the Australian Defense award.
The Top 10 List goes on with Angeline Osorio Esmeria of Taguig City at No. 4 and the only female in the top of the roster.
No. 5 is Jethro Olavidez, of Sibugay Zamboanga; No. 6, Aron Lessler Quiao Regimen, of Tanauan, Batangas; No. 7, Dyan Karl Tolledo Cabigas, of Bagong Silang, Caloocan City: No. 8, Fel Balambao Saguin, of Zamboanga Del Sur; No. 9, Rone Jo Ora Manganaan, of Rosales, Pangasinan; and No. 10, Christopher Cerbo Juan,of Tagum City, Davao Del Norte.
Humble Beginnings
Puertollano is the third of four siblings raised by a poor family from Lipa City.
As a young student in high school, he found himself helping his parents earn a living to support his studies.
“I used to help my carpenter-father in doing menial jobs in a construction company, under the watchful eyes of an uncle who was the foreman. This is among my memorable experiences that had shaped my life, leading to my decision to enter the PMA,” said Puertollano, whose mother earns additional income for the family by selling “kakanin” (native ricecakes) in their village.
Meeting soldiers was quite normal to him because his school was inside the Air Force base. He had a few distant relatives who are in the military, most of whom are in the Philippine Air Force.
His desire to help his family economically made him decide to take the PMA entrance exam, while he was on a scholarship at the Batangas State University.
When he learned that he passed the exam in 2008, there was no looking back.
PMA Challenge
While at the PMA, Puertollano hurdled the same hardships experienced by cadets, especially during their plebehood (first year). He was academically gifted, but found some technical subjects like calculus and physics difficult.
During his third year, he started to excel in most of his academic courses. He was a consistent Dean’s Lister up to the last semester, before his graduation.
He said that he also found time to harness his combative skills by participating in judo classes and competition. He also loves playing badminton, which, he said, is among his stress-relievers.
He is among the top 25 percent of the PMA’s “cream of the crop” in terms of physical fitness.
When he received his monthly allowance, he thought of his family.
“I immediately sent a substantial amount to my family. I helped the education of my younger brother,” he said.
Puertollano said his parents were able to visit him only twice during his stay at the academy. His father, Mario, 52, and three siblings are all coming to attend his graduation, except his mother who died last year.
Joining the Army
Despite his exposure to the Air Force environment, Puertollano has decided to join the Army.
“When I was a second year cadet, I heard many tales about the Army soldiers and their jobs in the communities. I am inspired by the exceptional jobs performed by the soldiers, helping people in their areas of assignment, especially the so-called peace and development missions,” he said.
Having Gen. Gregorio Del Pilar as his role model in terms of bravery, he wants to help end the insurgency problem in the country.
He took his military subjects seriously, topping in some of the military courses.
“I wanted to make use of all my military skills and knowledge learned in the academy during the time I will become a platoon leader in the field,” he said.
He said that he wants to focus on his job as a junior officer in the infantry company by teaching his soldiers and performing his assigned tasks in the best manner he can.
He also said that he plans to marry his girlfriend, Charity, 20, after 7-8 years of active military service.
“I want to focus myself on my highly-demanding job as a soldier-leader. I want to succeed in my endeavor so I will ensure that my time is devoted to my service,” he said.
The carpenter’s son is soon to become an implementor of the AFP’s Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP). (With a report from Rizaldy Comanda)
By ELENA L. ABEN 
mb.com.ph

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