Ex-PAF chief, diplomat and columnist Ramon Farolan; 88 | Inquirer News

Ex-PAF chief, diplomat and columnist Ramon Farolan; 88

/ 05:00 AM June 07, 2023

Ramon J. Farolan STORY: Ex-PAF chief, diplomat and columnist Ramon Farolan; 88

Ramon J. Farolan

MANILA, Philippines — Retired Maj. Gen. Ramon J. Farolan, the 16th Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief, died on May 31. He was 88.

Farolan, also a seasoned diplomat and government administrator, wrote the column, Reveille, for the Philippine Daily Inquirer for 19 years, starting on March 2, 2003.


The son of a newspaperman and diplomat, he often wrote about his insights on politics, the military establishment, and history — occasionally sharing his wisdom with the Inquirer Opinion desk staff about the war and the bygone era having lived through more than eight decades. Fondly called GRF, Farolan was the type of columnist who, when confronted with questions or clarifications from the desk, would take it as an opportunity to educate and expound on the context of what he had written.


He was born on Aug. 31, 1934, and was a member of the Class of 1956 of the Philippine Military Academy. He took on several important positions throughout his career including administrator of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and commissioner of the Bureau of Customs. He became PAF’s commanding general on Feb. 24, 1986, after the EDSA-People Power Revolution, and retired from military service in October that year.

Military reforms

One of Farolan’s advocacies was calling for military reforms including the so-called revolving door policy in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


In its tribute to the late general, the Department of National Defense (DND) said: “Beyond his professional accomplishments, MGen Farolan was known for his compassion, integrity, and unwavering commitment to the well-being of service members under his command. He fostered a culture of camaraderie and unity, inspiring those around him to excel and uphold the highest standards of military service.”

“His leadership skills and strategic thinking played a pivotal role in enhancing the effectiveness and readiness of the Philippine Air Force and the Armed Forces [of the Philippines],” the DND said.

During his stint as the PAF chief, Farolan led the command in the implementation of “return to basics” and encouraged personnel to repay a thousand-fold the trust and confidence of the people in the military. It was also during his leadership when the Air Force Management Information Center was activated.

Just three months after retiring from the military service, he was appointed Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia, serving for two and a half years, and later headed the Export Processing Zone Authority for two years.

Farolan was a recipient of various awards and decorations such as the Order of the Elephant from the Royal Thai Air Force; The Military Merit Medal from the Presidential Security Command; PAF Kahusayan Award; and the Golden Dolphin Award from the Philippine Coast Guard, among other recognitions.

‘No regrets’

In a column in October 2021, Farolan wrote: “As I was being prepped for major surgery, a few thoughts crossed my mind. First was family. With a wonderful wife, three great kids, and three beautiful granddaughters, I had no regrets. Should St. Peter call on the hotline, I was prepared and ready to follow his summons.

“Second, as a young boy, I entered the Philippine Military Academy not out of any sense of patriotism or desire to serve my country — those ideas were farthest from my mind. Actually, I was at a loss as to what to do with the rest of my life. A few of my classmates at UP High were headed for the PMA, and I figured the Academy offered something new, mysterious, and challenging. As things turned out, a career in the armed forces opened up many doors and opportunities. No regrets here.”

Condolences also poured in on social media, with many describing Farolan as their favorite columnist, in both the Inquirer and the Philippine Star, for his critical insights involving issues in the military.

A junior at the Philippine Military Academy said Farolan “represented the ideal cadet when we were plebes, and the ideal leader when we were officers.”

Another reader said, “His [work] as a respected military historian will surely be missed. He will also be remembered for his stand … to restore democracy in our country during EDSA 1.”

Farolan’s remains were cremated on June 3 in a private ceremony at his request at Sanctuarium in Quezon City in the presence of his family and close friends. His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Canadian American Education Foundation Scholarship Fund.

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In his final column for the Inquirer published on April 4, 2022, Farolan wrote: “After stints in various military posts, the customs bureau, the diplomatic service (I was posted to Indonesia where my father also served earlier), the Department of Trade and Industry, I found myself writing a newspaper column. How I got to this point is a story, one for the books. It is time for me to move on. Many thanks for years of fun and friendship.”


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TAGS: PDI columnist, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ramon J. Farolan

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