Four female cadets are part of the top 10 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 2021. Cadet 1st Class Valerie May Dicang, the third highest-ranking graduate of the PMA Masaligan Class of 2021, is graduating magna cum laude.
“Service has no gender,” Dicang said. She added that while it may seem “preposterous” for a small girl like her to compete with 138 men, she proved that she can do it— and was able to come up on top.
The four women stood out among the male-dominated top 10 of the graduating class, breaking the patriarchal culture of the 84-year-old institution. (Read: How a mother’s love inspired this female valedictorian’s success in the PMA)
To date, only six female cadets have topped the graduating class since the PMA started to accept female cadets in 1993. The latest was Cadet First Class Gemalyn Deocares Sugui, valedictorian of PMA Masidlawin Class of 2020.
Passion as Driving Force
Cadet 1st Class Christine Joyce Andog, top 5 and cum laude from Cabanatuan City, said that young aspirants should prepare if they wish to enter the academy. (Read: Three female astronauts who’ll inspire you to go after your dreams)
“To all the Filipino youth who aspires to be a cadet, first ask yourself, is this what you really want? This is because passion will be your driving force in achieving your dream. If you want it, prepare ahead of time,” she said.
Andog stressed that physical and mental strength is not the only factor that aspirants should have. Those who wish to enter the PMA should have integrity, perseverance, self-respect, and strong faith in God, she said. (Read: 4 Female Saints Who Are Warriors in Spirit)
Dicang and Andog are joined by Cadet 1st Class Pamela Avila Calleja from Malinao, Albay (rank 8) and Cadet 1st Class Shirley Fatima Lim from Tacloban City (rank 10, cum laude).
Three female cadets will also receive special awards: Lady Deane Balboa Sarmiento of San Fernando, Pampanga will receive the Athletic Saber award for female cadets; Mae Pearl Alarcon Agustin of Malinao, Aklan will receive the Military Justice award; and Annie Mazo Chen of Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija will get the Journalism award.
Due to the restrictions brought by COVID-19, the graduation of the PMA Masaligan Class of 2021 will be a private affair. Only those who can present a negative RT-PCR test can attend the graduation exercises.
The 164 cadet-graduates include 138 males and 26 females— all of whom will march during the official rites on May 10. Out of these, 82 will join the Philippine Army, 46 will join the Philippine Navy, and 36 will go to the Philippine Air Force.
The PMA is the top military school in the country, whose alumni are currently leading the armed forces and the police. (Read: How To Make The Most Out of Your School Year)