Graduating cadet gets special saber from Aguinaldo grandson
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.
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)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.