education in the Philippines

‘Walang kuwenta’: Filipinos online share their ROTC experiences

Russell Ku

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‘Walang kuwenta’: Filipinos online share their ROTC experiences
Social media users tell Rappler their experiences of fatigue and trauma when they went through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program as lawmakers push for it to become mandatory once more

MANILA, Philippines – Proposals to make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory once more grew flak online after Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez claimed in a Senate hearing that it would “cure” students’ mental health issues, which has been debunked by doctors and advocates.

The keyword “ROTC” was among the top 10 Philippine trends on Twitter on Tuesday, February 7 as people shared their sentiments on Galvez’s claim. The proposal comes as the country is facing a learning crisis with 9 out of 10 children struggling to read a simple text and a lack of classrooms, among others.

Proposals for mandatory ROTC have been certified as a priority measure by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte. The House of Representatives passed a bill that seeks to replace the National Service Training Program (NSTP) with a two-year mandatory National Citizens Service Training program.

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ROTC became optional in 2002 – following the death of Mark Welson Chua, University of Santo Tomas student – through Republic Act No. 9163 or the National Service Training Program Act of 2001.

With the push from government officials to revive mandatory ROTC, Rappler asked social media users who went through the program about their experiences and what they were about to pull out from it. 

Many social media users said ROTC was a “waste of time” with Filipinos recounting having to spend their weekends exposed to the sun, saying that it could have been better spent “resting, studying, or having fun with family and friends.”

Pagod ang katawan at isip at sa Monday pasok naman sa eskwela (Your body and mind is tired and you return to school on Monday),” said Facebook user Raming Manuel. 

They also say that they couldn’t use the skills learned from ROTC for future purposes even if they had to spend money on “additional units and uniforms.” 

Mas productive pa ‘yung tree planting at outreach program na ginawa namin (The tree planting and outreach program that we did were more productive) in lieu of two ROTC days,” said Twitter user John Sierra.

Jen Cordero shared that she took ROTC when she was in college “to get NSTP done earlier when [she’s] not that busy.”

‘Wala namang kwenta’ daw (It’s said to be worthless) anyway. Just do the drills and call it a day. Well, totoo nga ang chismis (The rumors are true),” she said. 

Meanwhile, Instagram user @focal_length300 said that discipline cannot be taught through military training. 

Ngayon, ‘yung ilan sa mga officers namin noon ay numero unong pasaway sa batas. Ang daming kaso sa barangay at yung isa nakasuhan pa sa [violence against women and children].” 

(Some of our former [ROTC] officers in the past are number one violators of the law. There are so much cases in our barangay and one was even charged for violence against women and children.) 

Others complained of power-tripping from their seniors when they underwent ROTC, with one user saying that it is traced to “most of their institutional trauma.”

Kung gusto mo maging officer dadaan ka sa bullying at physical harm ng mga senior officers. Nakita ko talaga [ng isa na] pinatawag lang siya nung isang senior officer para lang sampalin sa harap ng marami,” says Twitter user @loveyoutinny. 

(If you want to become an officer, you will have to go through bullying and physical harm from senior officers. I saw someone who was called by a senior officer just to only slap him in front of many people.) 

Do you have a significant experience when you went through ROTC? Share them with us by tagging @rapplerdotcom on Facebook or Twitter. –

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Russell Ku

Russell Ku is a digital communications specialist at Rappler who believes in the power of stories to build an empathic society.