BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Cadet First Class Jaywardene Galilea Hontoria became nervous last Monday, March 12, when he learned on national radio that his name was being touted as the valedictorian of the PMA Alab Tala (Alagad ng Lahing Binigkis ng Tapang at Lakas) Class of 2018 by virtue of him being asked to write the valedictory address.
There were at least three instances when the supposed valedictorian was relegated to lower ranks after being found to have leaked the good news to their families and eventually to the media.
But this major infraction cannot push down the 25-year-old Hontoria’s achievements as he becomes only the fourth valedictorian and class baron in the 119 years of the Philippine Military Academy when it was still known as Academia Military in October 1898.
“This is a historic event for the PMA as we have a valedictorian who is also a baron. The last time this happened was in 1951 with Leopoldo Regis,” said PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Donato San Juan.
The first to do it was Aristeo Ferraren in 1938 followed by Leopoldo Regis in 1951. PMA Gazette said that Manuel Arevalo actually became valedictorian and baron in 1964.
Arevalo was actually running 2nd a month before graduation but the valedictorian was involved in an honor code violation that led to his resignation.
Hontoria, the son of a farmer and housewife from Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo said that he felt humbled in joining this elite group. He was actually a registered nurse having graduated as a nurse at the West Visayas State University and later passed the examination.
“I was almost too old to become a PMA cadet and took the exam at my cut-off age,” he said.
Hontoria will receive the Presidential Saber from President Duterte on Sunday as well as the Chief of Staff Saber, Philippine Navy Saber for being the top Navy ensign, Academic Group Award, Australian Defence Best Overall Performance Award, Spanish Armed Forces Award, Humanities Plaque, Natural Sciences Plaque, Social Sciences Plaque, Jusmag Award and Department of Leadership Plaque.
He will also be the first valedictorian to be the first to marry among his class as he is set to marry his girlfriend Laura Fe Dellera, also a nurse in Iloilo, at the St. Ignatius Chapel inside PMA after the graduation ceremonies.
Hontoria had always been an achiever, having been a valedictorian in high school at the Colegio de San Jose in Jaro, Iloilo and garnered the Best in Community Nursing in college. His parents Oscar and Nancy could barely feed their family of three and it was his aunt, Corazon Dima-alab, a nurse in the Middle East, who financed his studies.
It was also his aunt who gave him the name Jaywardene, which he said was the name of a criminal in the Middle East. “She just liked the sound of the name,” recalled Hontoria.
He said that he used his nursing background when he applied first aid to his squadmates during their battle exercises.
Class Salutatorian is CFC Ricardo Witawit Liwaden of Gawana, Barlig, Mountain Province. The 24-year-old Cordilleran will receive the Vice Presidential Saber from Vice President Leni Robredo, the Philippine Army Saber, Sports and Physical Development Saber, Tactics Group Award and Athletic Saber together with CFC Jasm Marie Alcoriza.
Number Three is CFC Jun-Jay Malazzab Castro of Amulung, Cagayan who also will receive the Secretary of National Defense Saber. Fourth is CFC Leonore Andrea Carino Japitan of Butuan City who will accept the Management Plaque. CFC Mark Jantzen Nono Dacillo of Zamboanga City is fifth while number 6 is CFC Jezaira Laquinon Buenaventura of Bais City, Negros Oriental who will accept the Aguinaldo Saber, Department of Tactical Officers Plaque and a Starman or a Distinguished Cadet Award for being a Dean’s lister for two terms and a Commandant’s List for three terms.
Number 7 is CFC Jessie Antonio Laranang of San Clemente, Tarlac who will receive the Philippine Air Force Saber. Number 8 is CFC Paolo Balla Briones of Baguio City. CFC Jayson Raymundo Cimatu of Casiguran, Aurora is Number 9 while Number 10 is CFC Micah Quiambao Reynaldo of Bamban, Tarlac who gets the Australian Defence Best Overall Performance for Philippine Air Force.
Out of the 21,571 who applied for PMA in 2013, more than 12,000 were made to take the examinations and 1,423 passed. Of these, only 346 reported during the Beast Barracks on April 1, 2014, with 44 turned back cadets joining them.
Eventually, 282 will graduate this Sunday with 207 men and 75 women. More than half (243) will join the Philippine Army while 71 will join the Air Force and 68 will join the Philippine Navy. – Rappler.com