PMA Beacon Tower Class of 1970

THIRD EYE - Ramon J. Farolan - The Philippine Star

In connection with International Women’s Day last week, General Andres Centino, AFP chief of staff, provides the following figures on gender equality in the Armed Forces: “Our active AFP personnel consist of 90 percent male and 10 percent female. Of the females, 23 percent are officers, 77 percent are enlisted personnel. Among PMA cadets, 76 percent are male and 24 percent female. Attrition among cadets is higher with the males.”

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During the homecoming program of the Philippine Military Academy last month, an almost unnoticed activity took place at the right edge of Borromeo Field, the parade ground of the Corps of Cadets Armed Forces of the Philippines (CCAFP). In a somber, sunset ceremony held on Friday, Feb. 17, the PMA Beacon Tower was officially unveiled and blessed with PMA Superintendent Lt. General Rowen Tolentino and members of the class of 1970 in attendance. The Tower, made of cylindrical steel almost 40 meters high, was constructed by DM Consunji Inc. and is solar-powered.

A project of the Magiting Class of 1970 “Ahead of its time” and led by Rufo de Veyra, who served as the 48th superintendent of the Academy, the Beacon symbolizes the collective strength and unity of the alumni and their communities in their sworn duty to serve and defend the pillars of our democratic way of life. The Tower serves as a source of encouragement and inspiration during times of adversity and remains a beacon of hope for our nation and our people.

On a clear day, the Tower stands as the latest landmark for Fort General Gregorio Del Pilar and from early evening to dawn, its flashing lights serve as a guide for travelers in space in search of positions that may bring them to safety.

In his speech as guest of honor, Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong, Class of 1982, had this to say of the Beacon: “This Beacon represents so much more than just a physical object. Drawing inspiration from the Academy’s hymn ‘Oh, proud and bold you stand, bright beacon of the land,’ the Beacon represents the light that we can bring to the darkness, the hope that we can bring to despair and the change that we can bring to a broken Filipino system. When our nation is plagued by corruption, poverty and inequality, it is easy to lose hope but as graduates of this esteemed institution, it is our duty to stand tall, inspire others and lead by example.

“Think of this Beacon as a lighthouse guiding ships safely to shore. In the same way we must be the lighthouse for our fellow Filipinos, guiding them toward a better future. But the journey ahead will not be easy. Just as a lighthouse must withstand the toughest storms, so must we be ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.”

The mayor proudly stated “that we have made corruption irrelevant and obsolete in the City of Baguio. This is why I am starting a network among local chief executives who firmly believe in the principles of good governance.”

He related that only last month, a seminar on leadership and good governance was conducted where mayors from all over the country were invited. Unfortunately, out of over a thousand mayors in the country, only 12 attended. Magalong stressed the importance of good governance, saying “it is not just about having strong institutions or enacting laws and policies; it is about serving the people and creating a society that is fair, just and equitable for all. Good governance involves a commitment to integrity, honesty, fairness, purity of intention and a constant effort to improve the lives of our countrymen. Good governance goes beyond traditional politics and is not only focused on fighting corruption. It is about inclusiveness, innovation, dynamism and authentic leadership.”

“Let us make this Beacon a symbol of unwavering commitment to good governance, a shining example of what is possible when we stand up for what is right and inspire others to do the same.”

My special thanks to Roderico Castro, PA (ret.), a member of the class, now resident of Los Angeles, California, for the speech of Mayor Magalong. Upon hearing him at the unveiling ceremonies, Castro was impressed by his leadership qualities and saw him as a model for the good governance needed by the nation in the difficult days ahead. Perhaps, he also saw the mayor as a tower of hope for our people.

Some notes on the class of 1970. It has a star-studded cast of members who have performed on the national stage with competence and integrity. In alphabetical order:

• Romeo Acop – Congressman, 2nd District of Antipolo

• Ernesto Carolina – Longest-serving Veterans Affairs administrator

• Roy Cimatu – AFP chief of staff, and secretary, DENR

• Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. – Chief, PNP and governor of Zambales

• Edgar Galvante – head of the Land Transportation Office, DOTR

• Guillermo Parayno, Jr. – Only two Filipinos have served first as head of the Bureau of Customs and later, also of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Willy is one of them.

• Dionisio Santiago – AFP chief of staff, and chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board

• Nestor Santillan – commanding general, Philippine Air Force

Let me also mention the honorary members who have contributed time and treasure on behalf of the group: Jorge Consunji, Alberto Lina, Alo Morillo and Uly Sevilla. Marciano Ilagan is the current class president. As you may have noted, I have not provided their military ranks. Their accomplishments speak louder.

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