FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City, Philippines—Alumni of the Philippine Military Academy, who play key roles in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, missed this year’s homecoming on Saturday.
Absent were Senators Gregorio Honasan and Panfilo Lacson, both members of “Matatag” Class of 1971, and Antonio Trillanes IV of “Marilag” Class of 1995.
Even Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon, a former senator and Armed Forces chief of staff and a perennial homecoming guest, was absent. He is a member of Class 1961.
Only Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya, an original member of PMA “Maringal” Class of 1988, turned up on Saturday. He was the PMA cavalier awardee for public administration.
Abaya, the manager of the House impeachment panel, graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1988.
He said there was no need to draw the PMA alumni to the impeachment trial, after being asked by reporters here if the homecoming could be a venue to establish military support for the exercise. But he said PMA’s principles carry much weight in how the military appreciates the impeachment exercise.
“For our comrades-in-arms, the annual reminder of courage, integrity and loyalty—most especially integrity at this point—is much beneficial for public servants who serve our country and who are willing to risk their lives for our country,” he said.
He said soldiers have been watching the progress of the trial, like other citizens.
“Bahagi sila ng mamayang nakikinig… at sumusubaybay… kung ano man ang maging final decision dito apektado tayo lahat military ka man o pangkaraniwang mamamayan (They are part of a society that listens and keeps track of developments at the trial. Whatever its outcome, the military, much like the ordinary citizen, would be affected),” Abaya said.
Many of the alumni and their families who drove up to Baguio City for this year’s reunion did not discuss the impeachment trial. The common topic of discussions before the homecoming program started was on fashion and their Baguio vacation.
Although unspoken, each year’s homecoming has been an amusing competition to establish the best class. Most of the alumni classes come in flashy outfits.
The “Kalasag Lahi” Class of 1997, which included the academy’s first female graduates, came in pink shirts.
“They all chose salmon pink because the color stands out and it looked good on them. But at first glance they all looked like bus conductors,” said Aileen de la Cruz, wife of Kalasag Lahi member, Col. Achilles de la Cruz.
“We traveled to Baguio all the way from Davao to participate in the homecoming even if the trip was long. This was my first homecoming…. My husband wanted the family to be complete for [Saturday’s] reunion,” she said.
Members of “Mapitagan” Class of 1980 came in cowboy hats, white shirts, jeans and thigh-high boots. So did their wives and children.
“It’s Baguio so we wanted to wear something about Baguio,” a class member said.
The male and female members of “Maragtas” Class of 2007 wore barong Tagalog accented by gray and blue hats.
Members of “Hinirang” Class of 1987 marched wearing black suits, gray ties and dark gray hats.
“Baguio has become too warm. This was my second homecoming. I think there are more people who attended today,” said Ma. Socorro Ong, wife of Capt. Rommel Ong, a Hinirang member.
Over 1,000 alumni and their guests showed up.
The oldest alumnus was retired Col. Reynaldo Bocalbos, 93, who was also honored last year. The youngest participant was Philippine Air Force 2nd Lt. Reymon Marquez of “Laon-Alab” Class of 2011.
Book Author Cesar Pobre, a member of Class 1952, was awarded this year’s lifetime achievement award. Pobre published the books, “History of the Armed Forces of the Filipino People,” and “The Resistance Movement in Northern Luzon: 1942-1945.”
Among the awardees were AFP chief of staff, Gen. Jessie Dellosa (1979); Philippine National Police chief, Director General Nicanor Bartolome (1980); and retired AFP chief of staff, Eduardo Oban (1979).