Cadet First Class Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla, now a commissioned ensign of the Philippine Navy, delivers her speech during the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Mabalasik’ Class of 2019.
The STAR/Andy Zapata Jr.
Top PMA graduate wanted to be a doctor
( - May 26, 2019 - 3:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla, who is joining the Philippine Navy, never thought she would enter the armed forces, she said in her valedictory speech at the Philippine Military Academy on Sunday.

She said her dream growing up was to be a doctor but that she had to give it up because of the costs of taking up Medicine. She instead enrolled in Education and said that she told herself that she could still become a doctor by getting a PhD.

"I began to love the course and its promise of being part of the noblest profession," she said on the verge of tears as she shared that she had to change plans again two years into the course when her mother urged her to enter the PMA.

"It was very difficult for me to say 'no'. My mother persisted in my cadetship. 'Just try, dear, you have nothing to lose," she said. I was so frustrated because nothing seemed to be going my way, nothing seemed to go according to my plans," she said.

She said that her years at the PMA gave her the opportunity to play that role "when many times I was called to ease the pain of fellow cadets." She said she also became a teacher to other cadets along with the roles of preacher, lawyer—when cadets had to defend fellow cadets at disciplinary proceedings—and lawmaker "when we proposed measures to better the administration of the corps."

She said that, in the academy, "we became not what we wanted but what we needed to be."

Umalla made several references to her faith in her speech, saying that "with countless challenges and failures, we learned to lean on God."

She also started her speech with a quote from the Biblical book of Proverbs. "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand," she said in reference to how her life goals changed.

Umalla, whom President Rodrigo Duterte personally awarded with the Presidential Saber for being at the top of the "Mabalasik" Class of 2019, received 14 special awards at her graduation, including the Philippine Navy Saber and the Leadership plaque.

She was also awarded ownership of a house and lot, a recent tradition for PMA top-notchers.

"While I may not have acheived my dreams of becoming a doctor or a teacher, I realize that I only wanted one thing: to serve my people at all costs. I have achieved that dream today, we all have," she told fellow cadets. 

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with