“He has three pins on him. The first one is for his eligibility as an M16 sharp shooter. The second is for academic achievement. The third one is for his aerial assault qualification.”
“Making it to the Philippine Military Academy is already something big. Being at the top of your class is just tremendous; it’s something a parent will forever be proud of.”
“I remember asking him about his reason for joining the academy. He told me he wanted to learn responsibility and discipline – real responsibility and discipline. I think he has always been fascinated by those two.”
“One Sunday afternoon, during his plebe year, his mom insisted that we go and see him. I knew there was not a chance we could see him – it was not allowed. But we still proceeded. We sat in the benches. Minutes after our arrival, lines of cadets started taking a jog in the grounds, so I tried to look for him. But they all looked the same – their uniform, their hair and their headgear – so I couldn’t identify who among them was my son. Then his mom pointed to one of them and said, ‘There he is. I know my son.’ When I zoomed the binoculars, it was him, his hands forming the shape of a heart. Then I saw one of the officers talk to him. We decided to just leave. I was later told that he couldn’t stop crying the night of that day – he wanted to go home after he saw us.”
“One time, he called. And he just said, ‘Pray for me.’ He didn’t say anything else. I later found out he was on a trial for a case. That was the only time he ever called to ask for help. It was the one moment I felt him in his most vulnerable.”
What do you think helped him pull through?
“He gets along well with other people. He always finds connection. I think that was what largely enabled him to endure everything. In his first few months in the academy, he said that he never bothered to look in the mirror.”
What are you proudest of about him?
“His respect for others. He has this immense respect for everyone. He has a way of always infusing respect into what he does. And he’s really sweet and he shows it all the time.”
Do you think you’re ready for the life he’s about to lead?
“I am. From the moment he entered the academy, I have already prepared myself. I have learned to deal with the fact that my son is already a government property. And I think it’s one of the greatest sacrifices one can ever do – to serve your country with your life. And whatever it takes, I will be there to support him.”
Photo by DONALD RENTIQUIANO
Interview & Text by RONA LIN