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METAMORPHOSIS
IN THE YEAR 1970-1971
(taken from PMA SWORD 1971)

 

The year 1970-1971 saw a new image, if not better, for the Academy as the giant tentacles of change did not spare the military establishment and reached deep enough into the solid ranks of gray to alter and improve some of the noblest traditions identified only with the cadets.

Thus, in a glorious attempt to combat the cause of the rise of student activism in the outside world, Brig Gen Aurelio S Ugalde, then PMA Superintendent stated at the start of the school year thus: "There is no substitute for efficiency. A cadet should dedicate himself to his studies, an instructor to the teaching of the cadets, the staff officer to the efficient functioning of his office, etc." Such call for efficiency set the tone for the school calendar.......

Deriving the necessary authentic lessons from the concluded Summer Training, the Academic Year 1970-71 immediately took off into a better start. The Academic Board took an early initiative to improve the academic rules and to provide the needed amendments.  As envisioned, the amendments called for added vigor and professional outlook on the part of the cadets, and set a more modern approach upon the academic system of the Academy.........

The Second Term of the Academic Year 1970-71 was off into a fresh start when some cadets and officers alike, earning for themselves as needed respite from their tight schedules, joined the students and the youth in hailing his Holiness, Pope Paul Vi, at the grounds of the University of Santo Tomas.  After the much recorded experiences, when the Pope bid farewell to the Filipino nation, the cadets began the trek back to Baguio, save for the Firstclassmen who were left behind for an educational tour of the Island of Corregidor.  For the underclassmen, the academic grind took its usual course in the classrooms of the Academy, while for the firstclassmen, evening classes were held aboard the RPS Samat. 

As December winds brought the spirit of Yuletides to the Academy, the cadets were more than anxious preparing for their much awaited vacations.  As a highlight for the season, the fourthclassmen were declared "at ease", prematurely terminating their plebehood in the sense that it was first in history.  The granting of the "at ease", however, was seen by many responsible quarters as a way to satisfy requirements of higher headquarters rather than to live up to the true spirit of the "at ease".

The further development of the Philippine Military Academy could have followed its usual yearly course, had it not been for the much publicized defection of Lt. Victor N. Corpus, allegedly to Dante's "New People's Army-- the real army." The fact that Lt. Corpus was a PMA graduate and, at the time of the unexpected incident, attached with the Academy proved a fatal blow to the prestige of the premier military institutions of the land. While the bravery shown by Corpus in advancing his principles and convictions brought him some admirations from the Cadet Corps his actuations against  his own Alma Mater somehow united the cadets in denouncing him.  As an offshoot of the Corpus defection, the cadets began examining their systems in an attempt to discover their flaws. and consequently, to prevent the rise of another Corpus.  The Cadet Corps, notwithstanding the many investigations being conducted by some sectors, and the congressional hearing on the same case began working to give to give the transforming Academy an added stability.

That the ultimately relief of Brig Gen. Ugalde as Superintendent was one of the results of the Corpus Incident could then be properly surmised.  Philippine Navy Captain Gregorio Lim took the cudgels of supremacy in the Academy........


As the Corpus case gradually faded out of newspaper headlines and just when it seemed that the public no longer cared, it was most unfortunate that another setback moved once more the name of PMA in the controversial scene.  "The despicable attempt by some person to take advantage of the good name and reputation of the Philippine Military Academy by allegedly smuggling stereos and other articles under the guise of donations to the PMA' caused no little heartaches among those who remained close to the military Academy.  These successive events affected the morale of the cadets one way or the other and it took some time before they realized that the only choice they had was to prove that they did not belong to the same breed of men who gone astray.

Hence when everything appeared to be back to normal, the Cadet Corps concentrated on the activities for the 66th Foundation Day.  All was turning out perfectly fine, when barely a month before graduation, Firstclass Cadet Wilfredo H. Tapia succumbed to leukemia.  His sudden death caused surprise to everyone.  He entered the Academy to make a name for himself, to make good in his chosen career.  He was barely some days short of his goal when everything that was of him all became nothing but a legend.

The Academy, with the Cadet Corps in particular, recovered in a few days time from the grief of having lost a comrade. When March Week came (it may yet be more properly called March-April Week for the graduation rites took place from March 31-April 2) the same atmosphere of joy and liveliness which characterized those of the previous night.  The same day marked the graduation of 108 firstclassmen.  For the youthful lieutenants and ensigns, as they go out to the fields to do their part, they maintained, they would always be 109 strong.  The late Cadet Tapia would always be there, wherever they go, come what might.  And highlighting the graduation activities was Pres Marcos warning against the "Communist Conspiracy," which he enjoined the young graduates to fight against.

This , was another year added to the annals of history which the Philippine Military Academy has made for itself. Though filled with tears and laughter, made of blood and sweat, of frustrations, and achievements, the history of PMA would forever stand unique as it exists to carry out the mission "to instruct, train and develop the cadets so that each graduate shall possess the character, the broad and basic military skills, and the education essential to a successful pursuit of a progressive military career".  It would forever continue the metaphorical march forward, undelayed and unbowed in its quest of producing the leaders of this nation. And as the Academy marches on. out of step at times, but still marching on, it would always carry with its proud heritage, uphold its glorious traditions, maintain its noble standard, and above all, accomplish its mission.  For after all an institution is only as great as its cherished ideals and only as strong as its hard fought achievements.

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