Beyond the Portal of Fort Del Pilar

portal-fort2Where have you been all these years? What happened after you left the academy? The real world is where we all alumni have gone to after we left Fort Del Pilar to fulfill our sworn duties to defend our country as professional soldiers. It is our nation’s social, cultural, political, and economic terrains we have traversed and journeyed to accomplish our assigned missions.

After being sworn as commissioned officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), we all reported to our respective assigned branches of service where we served our country for the next thirty (30) years or so. I am sure you still remember how your classes were divided and distributed to the Philippine Army, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Air Force, and the Philippine Constabulary (before it was separated and became the Philippine National Police). Eventually, we were assigned to our first operational units as junior officers and from there, we grew up in the military service building our careers until our retirement or separation.

In my case, I joined the Philippine Army, not of my own volition. It was a result of a distribution scheme adopted by the academy to fill up the quota given by the AFP. In April of 1978, I eventually became part of the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division whose area of operation was Western Mindanao covering the provinces of Basilan and Sulu. From there, I went from one unit assignment to another in different positions. I confronted the challenges from varying conditions of peace and order. I moved from place to place around the country from areas considered as no man’s land to less troubled communities. I continued serving until I opted to leave the military service to pursue another career in civil service and in the private sector.

As we reported to our respective units, we joined the ranks of professional soldiers who were actively participating in the affairs of the government concerning national defense. In the years that followed, our stories were slowly written as we built our military career through different positions and different units in the AFP around the country. We all have our stories to tell. Your life story. A soldier’s story.

A soldier’s life in the service of his country is a testament to how people coursed through their path to nationhood. It is a story that reflects the history of our nation. It is part of our historical records and written in the official documents of the government. Their assignments and missions, regardless of their significance, reflected the state of the nation and the condition of the land and its people. It also reflects the kind of military might that our nation have.

Soldiers are at the receiving end of national defense policies that affect national security. They are front liners and pacifiers opening areas for national development agenda. Their decisions and actions become critical and important to the survival of our nation. Their operational failures and successes also reflect the effectiveness and the efficiency of national strategies and programs.

By performing their duties and responsibilities, they gain knowledge, wisdom and understanding from their assignments from the battlefields to the corridors of power.

As active participants and administrators in governance, their experiences and decisions in various assignments are knowledge resources for national defense and national security.

As the nation’s security managers, they know and understand pretty well the threats that hound the nation. They have a very good understanding of the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our nation as well. They are part of the formulation of strategies and doctrines to address them. They understand the risks in which their diligence and patriotism are directed to prevent them from happening.

As defenders of our territory, they know every inch of our land, sea, and airspace. They know the boundaries. It is their inherent duty to study and familiarize themselves with the physical terrain where they are deployed. I for one had the habit of gazing my tactical map every morning as I take my cup of coffee to study and familiarize the contours and high grounds in my area of responsibility. As a former commander and staff of infantry and special forces units, it was my responsibility to be very knowledgeable of the terrain in all the areas we were deployed.

As holders and collectors of vital information of national interest, soldiers know the secrets of our nation including the secrets of our leaders, government officials, and politicians. They know the truth behind events that happened in the past and are still happening in the present. They are familiar with the realities about the state of our nation that are revealed right before their eyes as they become active participants, planners, and decision makers in governance. They have personal knowledge and eyewitness accounts that can shed light on many issues in the life of our nation. They collect information of tactical and strategic importance. Many of these pieces of information are still considered classified as of this date. As a former commander and staff officer, I gathered all types of information in our area of operation necessary to accomplish our unit mission. Every soldier is a collector of information.

As representatives of our government, soldiers reflect the kind of government they serve. They immersed themselves in the communities they are assigned to. They come to know the socio-cultural, political, and economic conditions of the area. They come to learn about their culture, their sentiments, and their government programs impacting their community. They learn their dialects. In some instances, they become permanent residents as a result of marriage. They go where civilian agencies cannot.

In short, the life of a soldier in service of his or her country is full of information about our nation.  Over the years of spending time in military service, we gained so much knowledge, wisdom, and understanding about our nation. We know the truth surrounding our people’s effort to nationhood. If we can gather all of these life stories from our alumni, it will be a well of knowledge we can share to the people for everyone to understand the role of our soldiers in nation building.

corpsmagThus, as we open, we will portray your stories as officers who were once part of the academy. These stories as soldiers were formed after you left the portal of Fort Del Pilar to fulfill your sworn duty to defend our country. It is our desire to capture your memories, no matter how bad or funny they may seem. Your heroic deeds, experiences, successes, decisions, wisdom, failures and mistakes may serve as a lesson to all of us and understand our soldiers better in nation building.

Lastly, it is also a way to honor you by bringing your stories in the spotlight for our people to appreciate what you have done for them.

Join us in this venture. We encourage all alumni to share their stories. Their soldier’s story. (Photo by Philippine Military Academy)

(Those who want  to share their stories please get in touch with me at


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