Philippine Military Academy

Female cadet from Surigao is PMA’s 2024 class valedictorian

Mia Magdalena Fokno

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Female cadet from Surigao is PMA’s 2024 class valedictorian

TOP OF THE CLASS. PMA Cadet 1st Class Jeneth Elumba smiles after the announcement that she will be the seventh woman to become PMA class valedictorian since the academy began accepting women in 1993.

Mia Magdalena Fokno/Rappler

PMA Cadet 1st Class Jeneth Elumba is the seventh woman to become PMA class valedictorian since the academy began accepting women in 1993. Her feat shows the strides made towards gender equality in the once-male-dominated institution

BAGUIO, Philippines – A cadet from Surigao City will be this year’s class valedictorian at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

PMA Cadet 1st Class Jeneth Elumba is the seventh woman to become PMA class valedictorian since the academy began accepting women in 1993, and her feat showed the strides made towards gender equality in the once-male-dominated institution.

Her achievement as top of PMA’s Bagong Sinag Class of 2024 was announced at Longayban Hall, Fort General Gregorio H. Del Pilar in Baguio City on Friday, May 10. Their graduation will be held at the PMA’s Borromeo Field on May 18.

People, Person, Groupshot
TOP CADETS. Top performing cadets strike a pose with PMA officials outside the Longayban Hall. Mia Magdalena Fokno/Rappler

She will receive the Presidential Saber, the Philippine Army Saber, the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (Jusmag) Saber, the Australian Defense Best Overall Performance Award (Army), and the Tactics Group Award.

Hailing from Surigao, a city in the Caraga region, Elumba’s journey to academic excellence has been nothing short of remarkable. 

Elumba’s path to becoming top of her class was marked by various challenges, including a surgical operation for appendicitis in 2023, which, at that time, cast uncertainty on her academic future. 

“I was expecting to be discharged,” Elumba recalled.

She was studying at the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas when she decided to join the PMA. During her first year at the military academy, she contracted COVID-19, testing her commitment to her PMA goals.

The 24-year-old Elumba attributed her feat to her father, whose aspirations of serving as uniformed personnel of the government inspired her pursuit of a military career. 

She said her father is a criminology graduate who ended up being a rice farmer.

“My father inspired me to enter the Academy. He wanted to serve as a uniformed personnel, but circumstances led him to farming. It’s for him and our family that I pursued this career,” Elumba said.

Reflecting on her journey, Elumba emphasized the importance of inclusivity and equal opportunity at the PMA. 

She said, “The perception that soldiery is male-dominated is outdated. At PMA, females are given equal opportunity to lead and excel.”

Six other top 10 performers in the PMA class are women, showing the military school’s progress toward gender parity in a traditionally male-dominated environment.

The other six women in the Top 10 list are Cadet 1CL Cyril Joy Masculino of Camarines Sur (4th), Cadet 1CL Rosemel Dogello of Capiz (5th), Cadet 1CL Alexa Mye Valen of Lanao del Norte (6th), Cadet 1CL Giselle Tong of Tuguegarao City (8th), Cadet 1CL Danica Marie Viray of Pasay City (9th), and Cadet 1CL Neriva Binag of Isabela (10th).

The three males in the list are Cadet 1CL Mark Armuel Boiles of Quezon City, the class salutatorian; Cadet 1CL Kim Harold Gilo of Butuan City; and Cadet 1CL Floyd Nino Arthur Roxas of Leganes, Iloilo (7th).

Along with Elumba, the PMA announced the achievements of her fellow cadets.

The class salutatorian, Cadet 1st Class Boiles from Novaliches, Quezon City, will receive the Vice Presidential Saber, the Philippine Air Force Saber, the Academic Group Award, the Management Plaque, and the Air Force Professional Courses Plaque.

The “Bagong Sinag” class initially comprised 350 cadets but will have 278 graduates next Saturday. The class is diverse, with 224 males and 54 females, spread across various branches – 144 in the Army, 62 in the Air Force, and 72 in the Navy.

Territorial defense

The PMA is considering adapting its academic calendar and training programs in line with national directives, likely shifting back to the old school year schedule starting in June.

Lieutenant General Rowen Tolentino, PMA superintendent, said, “Territorial defense is now incorporated into the curriculum, including joint field training exercises.” 

He said proactive measures were implemented to equip cadets with the skills necessary to address contemporary military demands and navigate geopolitical challenges. For the PMA, this preparation is crucial for the graduates’ roles in national defense and their ability to effectively handle potential conflicts.

Gilo, one of the top notchers, narrated, “During our on-the-job training and officers preparatory course, we visited islands in the West Philippine Sea. Observing the patrols of Chinese vessels there, I recognized the real-world implications of our training.” 

Meanwhile, the PMA also announced honors and special citations for the following:

  • Cadet 1CL Joshua Adrianne T Gonzales from Poblacion, Polomolok, South Cotabato (Chief of Staff Saber)
  • Cadet Paula Joy Aviquivil from San Pablo City (cum laude) 
  • Cadet Mitzi Binamira from Santo Domingo, Albay (cum laude)
  • Cadet Jeenela Calumba from Biñan City, Laguna (cum laude) 
  • Cadet Ronald It-Itan from Sabangan, Mountain Province (cum laude) 
  • Cadet Matthew Vince Echague from Legazpi City, Albay (cum laude) 
  • Cadet Jeonel Cabansay from Pigcawayan, North Cotabato (cum laude)
  • Cadet Christian L Nadunza from Manggahan, Rodriguez, Rizal (cum laude)
  • Cadet 1CL Camille Joy Poblete from Padul, Solana, Cagayan (Athletic Saber – female): 
  • Cadet 1CL Leo Ralph Papagayo from Sagpat, Bantay, Ilocos Sur (Social Sciences Plaque) 
  • Cadet 1CL Emmanuel Quibal from Tanauan City, Batangas (Aguinaldo Saber)
  • Cadet 1CL Jake Matiw from Bontoc, Mountain Province (Athletic saber-male) 
  • Cadet 1CL Samantha Zinampan from Tuguegarao City, Cagayan (Department of Tactical Officers plaque) 
  • Cadet 1CL Joven Modestano from Ligao City, Albay (Starman)
  • Cadet 1CL Miguel Ponce Abesamis from Olongapo City (Batangas Navy Courses Professional plaque)
  • Cadet 1CL Zita Dewi Nirvana Messakaraeng from Tabuk City, Kalinga (Humanities plaque)
  • Cadet 1CL Samuel Aldous Gloria from Camp 7, Baguio City (Chief Justice Saber)
  • Cadet 1CL Thrisha Mae Capul from Calinan, Davao City (Journalism award)

with reports from Frank Cimatu

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