FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—President Aquino on Sunday confessed to graduating cadets of the Philippine Military Academy here that running the country, attended by countless problems like the still unresolved Sabah crisis, had caused him severe hair loss.
Poking fun at himself, Aquino said: “I have to be honest with you. Being President of the Philippines does not make one young. Some people say I should take a vacation because my eyebags have become noticeable, and my hair has grown thinner.”
The President cracked jokes in his speech that dwelt on leadership and responsibility during this year’s graduation ceremonies for the 124 members of PMA Pudang Kalis Class of 2013.
He began his speech by taking note of the graduating class’ grim demeanor.
“I could not help but ask the secretary of national defense if the Pudang Kalis class was mimicking his disposition because of the many graduation classes I encountered, you are the only graduates who bore the ‘tiger look,’” Aquino said.
He added, “It seems like the class felt bad about graduating, but I believe you are just being professional.”
Departing from the usual rites that allowed graduates to sit under a tent with their parents, this year’s graduates were required to stand at attention on Borromeo Field—returning to a tradition practiced by their predecessors.
The rites also allowed the cadets to applaud their class “goat,” Lt. Dwight Buagas, which helped lighten the mood.
The changes seemed appropriate, the President said, because the graduates would soon confront the problems of governance that he himself continued to address.
“As the next leaders of our uniformed forces, you bear on your shoulders a grave responsibility. And as someone who is a little bit older than you, perhaps this is the lesson I can impart: Whenever you face a dilemma, you need only put yourselves in the shoes of those that will be the most affected, the most abused, the poorest, those who are in most need of your protection—and I can promise you, what is right and what is wrong will become clearer,” he said.
Aquino told the graduates that for as long as the soldier kept the well-being of the marginalized in mind, “we will never stray.”