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Ilocano PMA alumni encourage youth to take the challenge

To a dreamer, failure is not a challenge but an armor to success.


Two aspirants from the province of Ilocos Sur proved how dedication won over challenges to make their dream to become a soldier come true.


Second Lieutenants (2LT) Cris Justine Gironella of Suyo town and John Romuald Corpuz of Caoayan town finished their four-year rigorous military training at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in May.


In an interview with the Philippine Information Agency, these two proud Ilocano soldiers shared how they achieved success amid some failures and hardships.


Take the challenge and be a leader – 2LT Gironella

“I passed the PMA entrance exam the first time I took it, unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the quota for the next round of elimination,” 2LT Gironella mentioned as one of the hardships he encountered while applying for the military profession, which according to him is a childhood dream.


He said it was tough as many competent aspirants vie for a slot in the annual quota to enter the academy.

PMA 2022 BAGSIK DIWA Class graduation ceremony: 2LT Gironella shake hands with President Rodrigo Duterte as he receive his college diploma on May 15, 2020. (Screengrab from the PMA Official Facebook page)

“But it didn’t end there,” he added. 


As he took the challenge for the second time, he passed and was assured a slot to the 2018 quota.


However, he was confused as he was in his third year pursuing education with a major in Mathematics at the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College-Tagudin Campus.


“At that time, I was in my third year of college so I was confused between continuing my teaching career and becoming a soldier who serves the country. But with the help of my parents, Cefirino and Epifania Gironella, who encouraged me to follow my heart’s desire, I decided to join the PMA,” he said.

2LT Gironella added that his experience as an education student greatly helped him during his cadetship as he acted as a mentor to his subordinates and helped them in their academics.


“I acted as a mentor to my subordinates, helped my underclassmen and mistah in their academics tapos ganoon din sila sa akin until na reach namin ang graduation. Sa journey ko naman sa Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), malaki ang tulong ng pagiging teacher ko since kaming mga sundalo ay dapat maging flexible. We are not trained to go to war only. Later on sa field if ma-assign ako sa mga lugar na alam kong pwede akong makatulong sa pagtuturo, I will volunteer para sa mga bata na nangangailangan ng edukasyon,” he said.


When asked what Ilocano spirit or characteristic helped him during his cadetship, Gironella answered, “As an Ilocano, we have this characteristic of being a leader. Being a leader is all about influence and responsibility. Through this, we influence others and help them succeed.”


To reach your dreams, take a leap of faith. Try again! – 2LT Corpuz

To enter the academy is hard but to finish the challenge until officership is harder.


2LT Corpuz, an original member of the PMA Masaligan Class of 2021, said it was challenging for him at first especially during the transition period from civilian to military life.


Then he was suspended for at least a month in his third year in the academy.


But these challenges didn’t stop him, instead, these prompted him to continue reaching his goal.

“When I was suspended, doon ko narealize ang value ng pagka-kadete ko. It’s an opportunity that should not be wasted,” he said.


Eldest of five siblings, he was inspired by his deceased father to join the academy, especially his eagerness to help his mother to finance the needs of their family.


“Entering the PMA was one of the career paths my father mentioned for me to take. Pero pinili kong i-take muna ang AB Political Science dahil pangarap ko talagang maging lawyer. At since ayokong maging burden sa mother ko, nagtrabaho ako para makaipon to enter law school sana pero narealize ko na it will take some time kaya pinili ko ang opportunity sa PMA since I was qualified,” he said.

PMA 2022 BAGSIK DIWA Class graduation ceremony: 2LT Corpuz salutes at President Rodrigo Duterte as he receive his college diploma on May 15, 2020. (Screengrab from the PMA Official Facebook page)

2LT Corpuz is an AB Political Science graduate who was a civilian employee at the General Headquarters of the AFP.


He said his background in Political Science was helpful in his journey at the academy which he said will be more helpful in his journey as he enters the AFP.


“I think I am more inclined to working with regards to community support programs as well as civil military operations. Mas makatulong ako na i-alleviate ang mga social issues sa mga Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) gayun din na maging tulay upang mai-abot ang iba't ibang tulong mula sa gobyerno sa komunidad,” he said.


With his experiences, Corpuz has a message to the youth out there who want to enter the military profession or reach their dreams in general.


He said, “Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams, take a leap of faith. In my experience, PMA has developed me to become more competitive. At your age, take all opportunities that are offered to you.”


“Should you fail, do not be discouraged. As long as you are qualified, you may take the exam multiple times. You just have to try again,” he added.


When asked on what Ilocano spirit or characteristic helped him during his cadetship, Corpuz answered, “We have that kind of warrior spirit na hindi violent pero warrior spirit siya na hindi sumusuko especially once we sight a goal. We, Ilocanos, will do all means necessary and appropriate to reach that goal.”


Gironella and Corpuz are members of the PMA 2022 Bagsik Diwa Class who will soon become warriors of the Philippine Army. (JCR/AMB/JMCQ, PIA Ilocos Sur)

About the Author

Joyah Mae Quimoyog

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Region 1

Joyah Quimoyog is a writer based in the heritage province of Ilocos Sur. She's a short sleeper who shares stories through photographs and other visual content.

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