The sight and sounds of planes and helicopters is very familiar to me because I grew up in an Air Force Base with my father being an Enlisted man of the Philippine Air Force, my mother as a regular employee of an insurance company in Magmata and my two siblings, I being the middle child. We lived a simple life at Airman’s Village of then Nichols Air Base, Pasty City and I can say that it was really simple because we didn’t have a home of our own, only renting part of the house of a retired PAP personnel.
I didn’t know my father was a soldier because I never saw him wear a uniform. It as only later that I realized why, my father was assigned with the PAP Intelligence and we were not really properly indoctrinated about the nature of his Job. Later in life when I was around seven years old, I had that first glimpse of my dad wearing his olive green Battle Dress Attire leaving and coming home with the same uniform. From then on I knew that my father is a soldier and maybe that was also the start of my subconscious influence in military life.
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With the humble life that we had, my parents enrolled me to a kindergarten school Just within the base and I can still remember the phrase I said during integrated graduation, “When I grow up, I want to be a pilot. ” I didn’t realize, that statement would somewhat be related to what the future holds for me. And so life went on, my parents really value the importance of good education and managed to put us into private school with barely enough Just to make ends meet. I went to Centre Escalator University Appearance Campus with my elder sister for the first three years of Primary Education.
Afterwards, I was transferred to Our Lady of Carmela School in Baccarat, Appearance together with my younger brother for the rest of my Elementary years and I will tell you those years were full of memories because it was the period when I started to meet new friends and experienced the so called puppy love. From there I moved on and prepare for High School, not really knowing what to expect and Just hoping that it would be a much better experience than the previous happy moments of puberty.
Saint Andrews School, an exclusive school for boys, would be my next home for the next unforgettable four years of my life. Why unforgettable? Because it was the time of my life when I really bonded with friends like brothers to me. It was also the time wherein I was exposed again with military life because of the Cadet Officer Candidate Course or COCO program of the school. It was such prestigious in school for students who are Officers of Citizen Army Training (CAT) and who wouldn’t want to experience that prestige right?
And so I Joined the COCO together with my best buddies, experiencing all the humiliation of being a trainee cadet from the almost bald haircut up to the extra ordinary attire of tucking in your school uniform while wearing a black tie for almost the whole period of 3rd year high. But it didn’t end there because we had to spend summer camp before we finally graduate from the program and become full-pledged CAT Officers. The experience alone molded my personality, taught me how to become a leader and developed my appreciation of the Armed Service.
I was lucky to be given the 3rd highest rank in the Cadet Corps and I felt proud to be an Officer because other students and the elementary pupils, who really looked up on us not Just as big brothers but as role models as well, gave us utmost respect. Other than that, I also joined the Student Catholic Action (SAC) where I learned to share God’s words to out f school youths and informal settlers within the vicinity of the school. And it gave me great appreciation to the simplest things in life that others take for granted, simple joys, which are considered a treasure to the urban poor.
My life in high school is not all about prestige and fun because it was also a period in my life when I experienced difficulties, in terms of studies, emotional stress and peer pressure. I admit, I am not an intelligent student and Just like those other students, I experienced having red marks on my report card and my parents being allied by the class adviser due to my failing grades, especially Math subjects which really gave me the hardest time.
Even though my grades were low, my parents didn’t give up on me and continued to guide me up to the day when I finally graduated from high school, giving them so much Joy and a feeling of fulfillment. Indeed adolescent life is a better experience especially if you spend it with really good friends and supportive family. After all the learning experiences and lessons in life during my adolescence, now comes another chapter to experience and learn from; that is what they call the Emerging Adulthood stage. And what was the next step for me, College that is.
Because of my experience with numbers and computations during high school, I decided to take a different career path from the norm of what my co-alumnus usually take which is Engineering, I took up Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. And because the fees in college are significantly higher than that of high school, my parents asked me to try and pass the scholarship programs of my prospective college. With God’s will, I was accepted at Panamanian Eng Lungs Eng Manila in Intramural, Manila as a scholar student.
My parents were relieved because I was only paying the miscellaneous fee of Fifty Pesos per semester. And so my path to professionalism was heading on accordingly, without any relation to military service but still with the purpose of service to others. Everything was going well and I was maintaining the general weighted average required by the university. But maybe I with academic challenges that I was not able to recover from. In short, I was kicked out of the university due to the failing grades from major subjects, Just a year away from graduating.
I was devastated and my parents as well because there were no universities that would accept a student Just to take up the last year of the course that is programmed for internship. But then again with God’s will, Saint Jude College accepted me, living up with its patron saint’s reputation as the hope of the hopeless because I was really hopeless and it felt like I failed in life, I failed to make my parents proud and happy. And so upon admission from SST Jude College, I promised myself that I would do everything to pass the course and graduate to make it up to them and make them feel that they are not failures as parents.
Then my life’s career path was back on its tracks, I finished my ten-month internship program with different Physical Therapy facilities, gained experience and eventually graduated. The only thing to do in order to reach my dream of becoming a licensed physical therapist is the board examination. Again, as I was getting close to success, another burden in life hit me; I failed the physical therapy board examination. But it didn’t stop me from moving on with my life and I went out to look for a Job, so as to lessen the feeling of guilt and not be a burden to my parents.
I found a Job, which as a bit similar to my course because it was medically related; I was accepted to train as an Aestheticism or skin therapist in layman’s term. As a skin therapist, I did facials, body massage and foot scrubs, and I was actually good at it. Besides being a skin therapist, I was also the messenger of the company, being the only male employee there. And because I was good at what I do, I was awarded as the company’s first ever employee of the year.
I thought that this will be the career I’ll be having for the rest of my life and I was contented; thankful to God that he led me to it. With my regular Job doing good, military service was out of my thoughts until the time when my younger brother was about to take the qualifying examinations for the Philippine Air Force Officer Candidate Course. My father asked me if I was interested to take the exam. Although I was really not interested, I didn’t want to disappoint him and so I said I’d try it out and take the exam with my brother.
I saw the sparkle in my dad’s eyes because I know that as a former Enlisted Personnel, it will bring great pride and honor for him if his children would follow his footsteps. And so I took the exam at PAP Gym in Violator Air Base, hoped and prayed that if it is God’s will then it will be done. Unfortunately, I didn’t pass the qualifying exam; I was short of one point from entering the PAYOFFS program. But my father never gave up on me and asked me again to take another exam at Clark Air Base, a month after the exam at Violator Air Base.
He believed in me, that is why I promised myself to do my best on the next exam and so I did; eventually passing the qualifying exams at Clark Air Base and became closer of fulfilling the dream which I recited during my kindergarten school radiation. With every step of the way during the application period, I saw how my father fulfills his dream for me. Before I know it, I was in the final list of candidates and heading to Fernando Air Base to train for one year to become what I am know, a proud PAP Officer.
Training was hard but I was always thinking that it was Just like my COCO training in high school and all of it will make me a better person. After overcoming the rigorous demands of military training, the time has come for us to graduate and be commissioned to the Regular Force of the APP as new PAP Officers. I can still remember the statement of our Guest of Honor during that momentous day, he was addressing our parents and telling them that their children are now the government property and the service will be their priority. I am now a soldier and my priority is to serve my country other than myself.
Knowing that I’m already part of the Armed Forces, the Philippine Air Force in particular, I was ready to face any assignment to be given to me. After a month of vacation, we were ready to be deployed and I was to be assigned in the Visas Region, with the Tactical Operations Group 8 (TOG 8) at Tactical City. It would be the true test of the training I had and the start of my career as a PAP Officer. I was designated as the Admit Officer of TOG 8 and I’m really grateful to the enlisted men of that unit because they taught me a lot of things and they never gave me a hard time of doing my Job.
But it was not always going on the way I wanted to, there be challenges and difficulties encountered along the way. I had to battle homesickness because it was my first time to be away from my comfort zone, my family. Eventually, I learned to overcome these challenges, adopted with life in the field and face the asks given to me in order to accomplish the mission. About the challenges, the most significant part of my stint in TOG 8 would be our Disaster and Relief Operations during the mudslide at SST. Bernard in Gainsaying, Elite on February 2006.
I was able to do my Job as the Admit Officer, every little way that I can in order to support or assist the troops engaged in the operations thereat. Afterwards, it came to a point when I had to choose a specialized skill for my career development. Unfortunately, I was not admitted for the Military Pilot Training but I accepted it because I knew that God has other plans for me. And so I asked my Group Commander to allow me to take the Air Intelligence Officer Course at 30th Air Intelligence and Security Group (30TH AXIS), to try out if it would be the career path destined for me.
I felt that this career was made for me because I was assigned with 30th AXIS right after I graduated from the course and it was the start of my colorful career as an Intelligence Officer. Luckily enough, I was further assigned with 30th Counterintelligence Squadron (30th CICS) whose Officers and personnel worked together as a team for the accomplishment of the mission. Because of this teamwork, 30th CICS was awarded the Best Squadron Award while I was twice chosen as Group Model Officer of the Year for 2007 and 2008.