Hotdarn, spirits and spirituality

Baguio has gained prominence as a destination for spiritual activities. It is home to various religious institutions for study, retreat and education.

While our precious destination in Loakan may not qualify as a religious institution in the conventional sense, there exists a profound “religiosity” among the members, most specially when dealing with contraband items such as “hot darn”.


“Hot darn”, as all who passed through the portals of Loakan know, is the informal term that is used to refer to anything intoxicating enough to warrant a class 1 slug, if caught. Many a cadet, caught with the said liquids in his possession, were turned back or dismissed because of them. Yet, the practice of “spiriting” these liquids into the barracks for occasional (though very quick) consumption continues.

A Witful uppie of the 60’s generation recalls that liquor was authorized for consumption during formal occasions with officers present. Presumably, this was so, because the cadets had to learn how to handle themselves with these spirits. Unfortunately, the practice was discontinued – and the cadets (ex cadets and alumni included) still don’t know how to handle themselves.

Fortunately, this is so – with or without inebriation.

The debate continues to go on beyond the gates of Fort del Pilar – considering the merits and demerits caused by prohibition of the use and misuse of these liquids. Whether or not they will be advantageous to the snappity of the Corps will have to be a matter to be discussed over a drink or two.

Spiritual activity, though has not been limited to liquid form. There was once, when the class of 1979 caused a stir for their own kind of “spiritual activity” – and this one involved a glass, but no liquids.

The question and answer portion that spread faster than “balitang sink” reached the intelligence groups and this eventually forced the transfer of their graduation rites to the now destroyed (by an earthquake) Baguio Convention Center. True or not, the Class of 79 will always remember having graduated from there instead of the traditional rite held at the Borromeo Field.

On the other hand, there is the very elating narrative of the PMA Christian Fellowship, which is currently being shepherded by no less than an alumnus, a good friend and kabayan, Cavalier Erwin Luga 82.

The congregation has flourished since they started as a small bible study and prayer group with a few officers and cadets. These days, they meet in a larger venue and are open to everyone in the area wanting to worship along with them during Sundays.

The PMACF also conducts their own activity during Alumni week, welcoming former attendees – former cadets and alumni and friends, and for a small contribution, are welcome to enjoy pizza along with their catch up conversations with those present.

This is one development that I wished I had when I was a cadet – the chance to nurture my own spiritual transformation and development, and help those that needed nurturing alongside the rigorous and punishing training that is only available in the Academy.

Yes, the halls in Loakan are hallowed ground as well. But may they always be – for the right reasons.

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