Graduating cadet gets special saber from Aguinaldo grandson

04:01 PM May 25, 2019

Mabalasik Class valedictorian, Cadet First Class Dionne Mae Umalla, greeted her mother, Dionisia, who traveled from Ilocos Sur to attend the Philippine Military Academy graduation rites on May 26. INQUIRER PHOTO/ Vincent Cabreza

FORT DEL PILAR, BAGUIO CITY — The second top cadet of graduating Mabalasik Class of 2019 received on Saturday (May 25) a special saber from the 6-year-old great, great, great grandson of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo during pre-commencement rites at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) here.

Cameras flashed non-stop when young Jedidiah Suntay handed out the Aguinaldo Saber to Cadet First Class Jonathan Mendoza of Cavite City at the Borromeo Field Grandstand.


Suntay, who was clad in a replica of the white military dress uniform worn by Aguinaldo, was aided at the stage by the man who began the tradition as a boy — Aguinaldo great-grandson Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay III.

Suntay III was the first 6-year-old to hand out the special saber to eligible cadets on behalf of the family in the late 1970s. Young Suntay is the grandson of Suntay III’s sister.

Sitting at the grandstand was Suntay’s immediate predecessor, Milly Tañedo, who was also six when she first handed out the saber to a cadet of PMA’s Banyuhay Class in 2002.

The Aguinaldo Saber is conferred on the cadet who graduates with the highest overall rating in aptitude and conduct, in leadership courses as well as in extracurricular activities during four years of training, said Lt. Col. Agnes Lynette Flores, who heads PMA’s social sciences department.

The saber is one of many special awards handed out a day before the graduation on Sunday (May 26) of 261 members of Mabalasik (fierce), which is an acronym for “Mandirigma ng Bayan, Iaalay ang Sarili, Lakas at Tapang, Para sa Kapayapaan.”

Mabalasik’s top cadet is Cadet First Class Dionne Mae Umalla of Ilocos Sur, the fifth female to graduate as PMA class valedictorian after females first joined PMA in 1993.

Jedediah Suntay, 6, joins top ranking cadets of graduating Mabalasik Class and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, shortly after he handed out the Aguinaldo Saber to graduating Cadet First Class Jonathan Mendoza during pre-graduation rites held at the Philippine Military Academy on Saturday (May 25). Graduation is going to be led by President Duterte on Sunday (May 26). INQUIRER PHOTO/ Vincent Cabreza

Suntay III is the caretaker of the Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio, which is preserving what is arguably the original flag unfurled during the 1898 declaration of Philippine independence.

The frail, tattered flag, which will be displayed once more during this year’s National Flag Day on May 28, and on June 12, Independence Day, was discovered under Aguinaldo’s deathbed by the general’s daughter Cristina, who is Suntay III’s grandmother. (Editor: Leti Z. Boniol)

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TAGS: Aguinaldo, cadet, Graduation, MABALASIK Class, Philippine Military Academy, PMA
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