PMA valedictorian, 7 more topnotchers are women

Frank Cimatu
(UPDATED) Rovi Martinez, a native of Cabanatuan City, leads the PMA Class Salaknib – one of 8 women in the top 10

VALEDICTORIAN. Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Cadet Rovi Martinez is pictured during the announcement of the top 10 of the Class of 2017, at the PMA in Baguio City, March 6, 2017. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – Women dominate the top 10 of this year’s graduating class at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), led by their valedictorian, the country’s foremost military school announced Monday, March 6.

Eight women and two men are at the top of PMA Class Salaknib (“Sangalang ay Lakay at Bukay Para sa Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan”; salaknib is “to save” in Ilocano), led by valedictorian Cadet 1st Class Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez.

Martinez is a native of Cabanatuan City. She was studying accountancy before she entered the PMA.

The top 10 of the Class of 2017 are:

  1. Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez, Navy, Cabanatuan City
  2. Philip Modesto Viscaya, Army, Ligao City, Albay
  3. Eda Glis Buansi Marapao, Navy, Baguio City
  4. Cathleen Jovie Santiano Baybayan, Army, San Fernando, Pampanga
  5. Carlo Emmanuel Manalasan Canlas, Air Force, Pampanga
  6. Shiela Joy Ramiro Jallorina, Air Force, Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya
  7. Sheil Marie Calonge de Guzman, Army, Manaoag, Pangasinan
  8. Joyzy Mencias Funchica, Air Force, Butuan City
  9. Resie Jezreel Arrocena Hucalla, Air Force, Compostela Valley
  10. Catherine Mae Emeterio Gonzales, Air Force, Zamboanga City

Meanwhile, the following cadets received special awards:

  • Johnny Marohombsar III, Navy, Chief of Staff Saber
  • Franklin Dellomos, Air Force, Athletic Saber
  • Michelle Calusor, Army, Journalism Award (as editor-in-chief of The Corps Magazine)

Other female awardees include Karen Joy Benitez Bautista, who will receive the Computing and Information Sciences plaque, and Maria Isaia Pearl Paracale, who will get the Mathematics plaque.

A total 22,754 took the exam in 2013 of which only 14,450 qualified. Only 246 (including 82 women) showed up during the school’s Hell Week on April 1, 2013.

Of the original class, only 137 are graduating this year, with 37 as turnbacks, 6 on sick leave, and 3 suspended for maltreatment. The 137 were bolstered by 30 turnbacks, for a total of 167 graduates.

Out of the 167, 63 are women, the highest figure since the academy began admitting women back in 1993, the PMA said.

PMA Superintendent Maj. Gen. Donato San Juan said that the unusual number of women in the top 10 is not their choice.

“They were ranked according to their performances in academic, conduct and physical fitness,” said San Juan.

In a daze

TOP OF THEIR CLASS. The top cadets of the Philippine Military Academy class of 2017. Photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

Martinez is the eldest of two children of Mariel Martinez, a barangay councilor back in their hometown, and Ruby Martinez, who engages in a buy-and-sell business. She took up accountancy at Araullo University before entering the PMA.

The 22-year-old Martinez said that she was still in a daze, and has not told her parents in Cabanatuan City.

“I did not expect this. I did not even know my rank even when I started. I just wanted to finish,” she said.

Martinez will receive the Presidential Saber from President Rodrigo Duterte, who will be the guest speaker at the PMA graduation for the first time. She will also receive the Philippine Navy Saber, the Academic Group Award, and plaques for Social Sciences and Navy Professional Courses.

She will also receive the JUSMAG award, as well as special awards from the Spanish Armed Forces and the Australian Defense Force.

On top of these, she will also go to the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island for being the top Navy graduate.

She said her accountancy background helped her in her rise to the top. “I was able to get my discipline in my studies because of my accounting schooling,” she said.

“There was a time when I was in the second year when I wanted to quit. I wasn’t used to the training exercises and I was really down,” she said.

Her female upper-class mentor told her back then: “You know how many women wanted to be part of the PMA? Do you realize the hardships of life outside? You should consider yourself lucky.”

Martinez took the advice to heart and strove harder, she said. She also took up running as her main hobby.

Getting into the Navy is through the lottery, and she said she will do her best to rise to the top.

Of the two men in the top 10, one – Viscaya – will receive the Vice Presidential Saber from Vice President Leni Robredo.

“We are actually proud of the achievements of our female classmates,” Viscaya said. – With reports from Mau Victa / Rappler.com