Fort Del Pilar―The Philippine Military Academy on Tuesday announced the top 10 graduating members of the Mabalasik Class of 2019, which was led by Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla of Alilem, Ilocos Sur.
PMA Superintendent Ronnie Evangelista said the 22-year-old Umalla, the valedictorian, will receive 14 special awards, including the Presidential Saber, for finishing at the top of her class.
She will also receive the Philippine Navy Saber, the Distinguished cadet award (Starman), the Academic group award, the Humanities plaque, the Management plaque, the Social Sciences plaque, the Natural Sciences plaque, the Computing and Information Sciences plaque, the Department of Leadership plaque, the Joint United States Military Assistance Group award, the Australian Defense best overall performance, the Spanish Armed Forces award, and the Association of Generals and Flag Officers award.
Umalla, the daughter of a retired teacher, is the fifth female cadet to top her class since the academy started accepting women in what used to be a male-only institution.
The first was Arlene dela Cruz in 1999, Tara Velasco in 2003, Andrelee
Mojica in 2007, and Rovi Mariel Martinez in 2017.
Joining Umalla are Jonathan Eslao Mendoza, the class “Baron” or brigade commander who will join the Philippine Air Force. He is from Sangley Point in Cavite and the son of an enlisted personnel from the Philippine Air Force.
Landing in third spot was Jahziel Gumapac Tandoc from La Trinidad, Benguet.
Completing the top 10 wre Daniel Heinz Bugnozen Lucas of Barlig, Mountain Province (4th); Aldren Maambong Altamero of Kidapawan, North Cotabato (5th); Richard Balabag Lonogan of Sagada, Mountain Province (6th); Marnel Dinihay Fundales of Legales, Iloilo (7th); Glyn Elinor Buansi Marapao of Buguias, Benguet (8th); Ruth Angelique Ricardo Pasos of Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City (9th); and Daryl James Jalgalado Ligutan of Sta. Mesa, Manila (10th).
The academy also identified the cadets receiving special awards.
The recipients of the athletic saber award were Kimberly Joy Sali-an Baculi of Tanuda, Kalinga, and Nicolas Crisanto Ranguine Guysayko of Naga, Camarines Sur.
Jesriel Alvendia Calimag will receive the Chief of Staff Saber award, while Geoffrey Ortega Valdez of Mintal, Davao City is a journalism awardee.
The “Mandirigma ng Bayan, iaalay ang sarili, Lakas at Tapang, Para sa Kapayapaan” (Mabalasik) Class of 2019 entered the Philippine Military Academy on April 1, 2015 with a total of 349 young aspirants: 259 males and 90 females.
There were 11 males who made it to the final screening but did not report on reception day.
There will be 263 members of the class―186 males and 72 females who will graduate on May 26 with President Rodrigo Duterte leading the ceremonies as commander-in-chief and guest speaker.
Of the total number of graduating cadets, 40 are Cordillerans, followed by those from Region IV-A with 29; National Capital Region with 27; Region III with 23; Region II with 22 and Region I with 18.
The other members of the class are spread out in different regions.
Fifty percent of the graduates are female.
During the presentation of the top graduates, Brig. Gen. Cheston Valencerina said the academy implements a rigid screening process that starts from the pre-qualification stage and continues until the students graduate.
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