A Sentimental Journey to Baguio

Forty-five (45) years ago, on the 18th of February 1978 to be exact, 139 young and dashing cadets finally received their diplomas from no less than the then President of the Philippines, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. This momentous occasion would signal our graduation from the hallowed grounds of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA). Much have been said, and much have happened in our 45-year adventure since then. It has been a long, fulfilling ride that has afforded us countless, priceless memories. Thus, each time we – the members of PMA Class of ’78 – meet, there is unbridled joy over the welcome opportunity to reminisce those good old days in the Academy. Indeed, we owe so much to PMA, for it was there where we were patiently nurtured to grow into what we are today.

The Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines (CCAFP), of which I was once proudly a part of.

We walked our own individual paths in life after leaving the Academy; joining the different military services, while taking in and learning from our unique experiences. Along the way, some of us would have to make the supreme sacrifice. Our first casualty was 2LT Manuelito Herrera, who died in an encounter against seccesionists in Sulu barely 2 months after we graduated. We would lose 6 of our ‘mistahs’ (cadet slang for classmates) in the first 3 years of our lieutenant days, against the insurgents and secessionists in the Visayas and Mindanao. And we would lose more in the years to come. A total of 38 of our mistahs have gone ahead of us (Pls read: Honoring Our Departed Mistahs on Remembrance Day), the latest of whom was Ret PBGen Louie Palmera, who passed away so suddenly barely 2 weeks ago, on February 7. We also took time to honor our departed classmates, even as we fondly recalled the times when these warm, happy people walked the halls of our beloved PMA with us. And yes, we remember them all too well.

Some of us would eventually leave the service early, in search for new frontiers here and abroad. But a great majority would stay until the mandatory retirement age of 56, demonstrating a clear passion to serve in the best ways we could.

We would eventually reach that ripe old retirement age. For some, it was time to enjoy life to the fullest, content in simply doting on the grandkids, travelling to fascinating places here and there, eating, drinking, dancing, laughing. For others, it was time to take on new challenges and new jobs in new frontiers.

Forty-five years have passed.

Yes, we come back to where it all begun, to reminisce those wonderful days in PMA. We remember the challenges of plebe year, and the great satisfaction of having survived those difficult times. We relive the parades, the inspections, the daily grind. And we laugh at the overused corny jokes, the wild adventures and the creative survival techniques honed during our plebe year.

Life has been good to us. And it’s all because of the Academy. It’s all about the character-building, the ‘Courage, Integrity and Loyalty’ motto that was inculcated in us, it’s about the maturity, the love-of-country, the noble cause – all these and more – that I am so thankful for. And even as I reach the twilight of my years, I shall forever cherish – and remain forever indebted – to the Academy.

God bless the PMA. God bless the Makatarungan Class of 78. God bless the sons and daughters of the Academy.

Video courtesy of the Philippine Military Academy. For a closer look, just click on the pics. Cover photo courtesy of PMA Makatarungan 78. Other photos courtesy of Flickr, Business Mirror, The Manila Times, Wikimedia, Coconuts, Radio 2Lt, Travel Food Life, Fabulous Philippines, Bride Worthy, Four Square, Virtual Globetrotting, the Philippine News Agency and PMA Makatarungan 78. For a closer look, just click on the pics.


  1. That must be awesome, meeting all your old buddies. Thanks for sharing those pictures, and thanks for serving the country. Baguio is on my bucket list to visit. Dad used to live there during his youth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yey! Baguio is so much different now from the time I was there in the 70s. But it still has the allure of the highlands, of course. Do let me know if you plan on going. I could probably give you some tips. The PMA is a must-see for people who go to Baguio. Not just to look at toy soldiers marching around, but to see how a well-manicured, well-maintained garden-of-a-camp looks like. It’s not just a military camp, it’s now one of Baguio’s top tourist attractions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will let you know before I leave the states on April 20. I have to coordinate my comings and goings with my brother, who is taking care of my transportation while I’m in PI. But I’ll be there for four weeks, hoping to make it to Baguio. You know I love gardens, which is why I want to see PMA. I have seen marching soldiers at West Point and also here in Charleston at Citadel, not far from where I live.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I’ve never been to Baguio but have read and seen a lot of photos of Baguio. If I go, it will be on a weekday. Weekend traffic must be crazy. Dad lived most of his younger years in Baguio and Mankayan near Lepanto Mining. After the war, he wanted to move Mom and me there, but Mom did not want to. I could have been a mountain girl instead of a Batanguena.

            Liked by 1 person

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