Female cadet from Isabela tops PMA ‘Masidlawin’ class of 2020

JC Gotinga

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Female cadet from Isabela tops PMA ‘Masidlawin’ class of 2020
Cadet 1st Class Gemalyn Deocares Sugui and her 195 batchmates will graduate in a 'simple and private' ceremony as the Philippine Military Academy remains closed to the public – even to cadets' families – because of the coronavirus pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – For the second year in a row, a woman has topped the Philippine Military Academy’s (PMA) graduating class – and the 6th time since the country’s premiere military school started accepting female cadets in 1993.

Cadet 1st Class Gemalyn Deocares Sugui of Echague, Isabela, is the topnotcher of PMA “Masidlawin” Class of 2020. She is also awarded the Presidential Saber, the Achievement Award for Academic Excellence, the JUSMAG (Joint US Military Advisory Group) Award, the Philippine Army Saber, the Spanish Armed Forces Award, the Social Science Plaque, the Management Plaque, and the Rule of Law Award.

Here are the rest of the graduating class’ top 10 cadets, 5 of whom are women:

  • Top 2: Cadet 1st Class Jade Campo Villanueva of Tacloban City
  • Top 3: Cadet 1st Class Jefferson Yamson Salazar of Zamboanga City
  • Top 4: Cadet 1st Class Rojes Gaile Cacud Jamandre of Lamut, Ifugao 
  • Top 5: Cadet 1st Class Jeb Belting Bay-an of Kabayan, Benguet
  • Top 6: Cadet 1st Class Catabay Gunnawa Ladyong of Tabuk City, Kalinga
  • Top 7: Cadet 1st Class Vanelyn Angel Zipagan Tabao of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan
  • Top 8: Cadet 1st Class June Giel Anne Lacuesta Factor of Piddig, Ilocos Norte
  • Top 9: Cadet 1st Class Rubenson Prajes Abgao of Baroy, Lanao del Norte
  • Top 10: Cadet 1st Class Dencel Aina Mendoza Bayaca of Floridablanca, Pampanga

The Masidlawin Class’ 196 cadets will graduate in a “simple and private” commencement exercise at the PMA campus, Fort General Gregorio del Pilar in Baguio City. The campus is closed to the public and even to the graduates’ families because of the coronavirus pandemic.

PMA Superintendent, Vice Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi, said he personally wrote the parents of each graduating cadet to congratulate them and explain why they wouldn’t be allowed to attend the commencement rites.

“I believe this is a necessary decision in order to safeguard the health and general well-being of the [cadets] and the whole PMA community. As a parent, I know how heartbreaking and disappointing that decision is, but we have to do what is best for all. Safety and health are paramount at all times,” Cusi said in a statement.

Despite the pandemic, the graduates will immediately report to their major services in the Armed Forces of the Philippines as Second Lieutenants and Ensigns, Cusi added.

The Masidlawin Class is composed of 173 male and 23 female cadets. A hundred of them will be joining the Philippine Army, 51 will go to the Philippine Navy, and 45 to the Philippine Air Force.

The topnotcher of PMA’s ‘Mabalasik’ Class of 2019 was Cadet 1st Class Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla of Alilem, Ilocos Sur.

Friday’s graduation ceremony is the first since the death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio from alleged hazing by his fellow cadets in September 2019. The incident shook the PMA as well as the police and military, as it exposed the need for reforms and closer supervision of cadets at the campus. – Rappler.com

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.