Thursday, September 3, 2015


AT EASE! Members of the 7th Co. San Fernando Training Center, Philippine Army. ca. 1920s.

 In my high school and college years, the subjects that I hated most were our compulsory Philippine Military Training (PMT) and ROTC (Reserved Officer’s Training Corps), conducted every weekend. I really wanted no part of this exercise as I knew the abusive power of the Marcos military, having grown up as a teen during the Martial law years. For a year or so, I took part in those endless drills, where, dressed in our drab olive green uniform and heavy boots, we marched aimlessly with fake guns on our shoulder, through sun and rain, at the Burnham grounds.

 Today, of course, I have a kinder view of the military after becoming witness to the events in our history—from their role in toppling the dictatorship, to their sacrifices on the combat fields as exemplified by the last stand of the valiant SF 44 at the Mamasapano encounter.

 Our Philippine military history is replete with Kapampangan bravehearts who have contributed much to the country’s defense. Recognized early as among the country’s best soldiers are the 100 Macabebe Scouts recruited by the United States Army and organized in September 1899 as pioneer members of the Philippine Scouts. Slammed by many for their duplicitous nature—Macabebe foot soldiers helped capture Aguinaldo for the Americans—they are, on the other hand, praised for their professional soldiering.

 In more contemporary times, the list of illustrious Kapampangans in uniform have come to include the following: Brig. General Basilio Valdes (Floridablanca), Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army and 1934 Chief of the Philippine Constabulary; Gen. Victor H. Dizon (Porac), Chief of Staff the Philippine Armed Forces; and Maj. Porfirio Zablan, the first fighter pilot of the Philippines, who perished while training in the U.S. in June 1935. In his memory, the Zablan Airfield in Quezon City was named after him.

 The hallowed halls of Pampanga High School have given us some of the most notable names in military service: Brig. Gen. Marcos G. Soliman (1929, Candaba), a classmate of Pres. Diosdado Macapagal who became the Director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Col. Emigdio C. Cruz (Arayat), Pres. Manuel L. Quezon’s chief physician and trusted aide during the War years; Lt. Col. Leon Flores Punsalan (1928, San Simon) ,a West Pointer and M.I.T. graduate who saw action with the Philippine Army; Cols. Sergio Sanchez, Gregorio Gamboa (1926), Pacifico Martin (1929), Federico W. Calma ( 1931), Diosdado Garcia (1933); Majors Conrado Flores (1931), Flor Henson (1935), Rufino Dizon (1938); Captain Cresenciano Pineda (1937) and Brig. Gen. Ramsey Ocampo (1963, Candaba), chief of CIS and NARCOM. 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Military Academy—the country’s premier military school founded in 1936 by virtue of the National Defense Act, have produced many Kapampangan top graduates. Of late, the batch of 1998 included class topnotcher Cadet Ephraim Suyom (Apalit) and 4th ranked George de la Cruz (Mabalacat). Also in the list of high-ranking Kapampangans in military service: Gen. Rafael Mañago (Mexico), who served in several regions as military commander; Gen. Luis Villareal, Director of NICA during Cory Aquino’s term; and Avelino Razon Jr., 2007 Philippine National Police Chief.

 Several Kapampangan military men have also served in Clark after the American turnover : Gen Romeo Soliman David (San Fernando) , president of Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and Clark International Airport from 1995-98 ; Gen. Mariano Punzalang, First Military Liaison of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); and Col. Rodolfo Abad Santos, Chief of Security.

 Those who held non-military positions included Col. Juan Arroyo who became the Manager of the National Steel Corp. and Gen. Virgilio Mañago David (Bacolor), Administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority from 1992-98.

 The Kapampangan soldier has done it all---he has seen action in the world’s greatest wars, fought against the best armies, and participated in all the major events that determined our nation’s destiny. His dauntless courage harkens back to that oft-quoted boast from olden times—“nung keng leon at keng tigri, eku tatakut, keka pa?”. Today, this trademark courage has been transformed into pride of service in the military branch of the government. When duty calls, expect our own Kapampangan soldier to be there at the forefront—standing tall and smart in his uniform, ready to rally and defend the flag.

 Sources: The Pampangans,


Clyde Walker said...

Another Pampanga history I read today. Thanks for the info! :)

ruffi said...

Hi sir dis is ruffa a MA History student and a Kapampangan. Im currently doing research study about the culinary culture in Pampanga. Im very much interested with your blog. If i may ask you to share with me your collection of pictures and your sources related to the said topic will be much of help to the success of my study. I hope you can find in your busy schedule in replying in this mesaage. Thank u sir and all the best:)

alex r. castro said...

May I referyou to the Center for Kapampangan Studies at Hoy Angel University in Angeles City,which has an excellent library and archives needed for your study.