IN PHOTOS: PNP Academy's Lakans, Lakambinis come home

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) held its alumni homecoming on Saturday, March 17, turning the Camp Marcelo Castañeda field into a place of reunion for hundreds of alumni.

They started the day with a wreath-laying ceremony to remember their fallen brothers and sisters – a yearly tradition. Studying at the premier school for cops, firefighters, and jail wardens – and subsequently getting exposed to hazards – PNPA alumni know their academy family would not be complete forever.

The past year has been especially challenging for PNPA alumni as war erupted in Marawi City in May 2017, bringing dozens of PNPA graduates to ground zero. The academy's alumni, predominantly police, have also been leading the war on criminality and illegal drugs.

After saying their prayers, Lakans and Lakambinis – what PNPA alumni call themselves – proudly wore their batch shirts for class reunion photos, complete with formal, wacky, and "Duterte fist" poses.

The program proper started promptly at 10 am, beginning with field exercise performances done by cadets, followed by the awarding of the PNPA's outstanding living alumni.

"Adopted" alumni were also sworn into the alumni association. PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito were in the front row during their oath taking.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Eduardo Año stood as the academy's guest of honor and speaker, reminding its alumni that they are "the best" of the police, jail, and fire departments, so they should stay true to their motto: Justice, Integrity, Service.

After Año's speech was the much-awaited trooping the line tradition, borrowed from the Philippine Military Academy.

Alumni are only supposed to fall in line to inspect cadets in uniform, but the tradition has since become a colorful parade as the academy accumulated more and more graduates.

The program ended with the parade, but for most of the alumni, it was only the beginning of a day of reunion. Many went straight to their own class' party to ask each other how they were doing outside the academy.

The day reminded many commissioned cops, jail officers, and firefighters that amid the challenging lives of service they chose to lead, they always have a place in Silang, Cavite to come home to.

– Rambo Talabong / Rappler.com