By Zaldy Comanda
FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City – An Ilocana from the remote town of Alilem, Ilocos, leads the 258 graduating Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Mabalasik (Mandirigma ng Bayan at Sarili Iaalay para sa Kapayapaan) Class 2019.
The roster of graduating cadets was announced Tuesday by PMA Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista.
Cadet First Class Dionne Apolog Umalla,21 will receive the Presidential Saber from President Duterte during the PMA graduation rites on Sunday.
Umalla, who was the class valedictorian in high school, will also receive the Philippine Navy Saber and 12 other major awards.
Four other cadets from the Cordillera are in the list of this year’s top 10 PMA graduates.
They are Cadets First Class Jahziel Gunapac Tandoc, of La Trinidad, Benguet, who placed no 3, Daniel Heinz Bugnosen Lucas of Barlig, Mountain Province (No. 4); Richard Balabag Lonogan of Sagada, Mountain Province (No.6) and Glyn Buansi Marapao, of Buguias, Benguet (No.8).
Also in the Top Ten are Jonathan Eslao Mendoz of Cavite City (No.2); Aldren Maambong Altamero of Kidapawan, North Cotabato (No. 5); Marnel Dinihay Fundales of Leganes, Iloilo (No.7); Ruth Angelique Ricardo Pasos of Pasig City (No.9) and Daryl James Jalgalado Ligutan of Sta. Mesa, Manila (No.10).
Umalla is PMA’s fifth female valedictorian. The others are Arlene dela Cruz in 1999; Tara Velasco in 2013; Andrelee Mojica in 2007; Rovi Mariel Martinez in 2017.
Evangelista said 131 of this year’s graduates will join the Philippine Army, while 63 will go the Philippine Air Force and 64 will join the Philippine Navy.