Female cadets thank PMA for equal opportunities to serve country

By Liza Agoot

May 13, 2024, 6:34 pm

<p>Jeneth Elumba, valedictorian of Philippine Military Academy “Bagong Sinag” Class of 2024<em> (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)</em></p>

Jeneth Elumba, valedictorian of Philippine Military Academy “Bagong Sinag” Class of 2024 (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – Three decades after the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) accepted the first batch of female cadets, gender has become a non-issue. 

What used to be “the weaker gender” has shown it can outclass the male population.

“In ranking the cadets, the overall accomplishment is looked into and this is what makes the Philippine Military Academy unique from all other academic institutions,” PMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Rowen Tolentino said in an interview last Friday in PMA during the announcement of the top performing cadets. 

PMA’s “Bagong Sinag” Class of 2024 is composed of 278 cadets -- 54 of them females.

The class valedictorian, 24-year-old Jeneth Elumba, is one of seven females in the top 10.

She is the daughter of farmers from Surigao del Norte.

The six other top females in the batch are Cyril Joy Masculino, 4th; Rosemel Dogello, 5th; Alexa Mye Valen, 6th; Giselle Tong, 8th; Danica Marie Viray, 9th; and Neriva Binag, 10th.

Seven of the 10 special awards will also be given to female graduates during the May 18 rites at Fort del Pilar -- Paula Joy Aviquivil, Mitzi Binamira and Jenela Calumba, cum laude; Camille Joy Poblete, Athletic Saber; Samantha Zinampan, Department of Tactical Officers plaque; Zita Dewi Nirvana Messakareng, Humanities plaque; and Thrisha Mae Capul, Journalism Award.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will be the guest of honor and speaker.

Tolentino said 45 percent of the cadets’ ranking comes from non-academic activities, which include physical development, leadership, attitude for service, and character development.

Seventeen women made up the first batch of PMA females in 1993, but only seven graduated in 1997.

One of them was Cadet Lea Santiago (nee Lorenzo), who finished summa cum laude and No. 3 overall.

Elumba said the military is male-dominated but it should not deter females from serving the country.

“Female cadets are given equal opportunities to excel and even hold leadership positions in the cadet corps,” she said.

Tong, in turn, said the PMA exercises equality and fairness. 

“Our male cadets also empower us and encourage us to do our best,” she said.

Mark Armuel Boiles, second overall in the Class of 2024, said his female batchmates’ accomplishments are “testaments to their dedication and capabilities” and “show the equality in PMA.”

“As a male cadet, I am inspired and I want to learn more about the talents of my female counterparts,” he said.

Elumba said while there is no prohibition to get married after graduation, they are encouraged to serve sans additional responsibilities, like getting pregnant.

“When I entered the academy, I already accepted that this is a commitment and being such, I have to devote myself to the service, especially with the heavy task at hand that will be given to us as we become full-fledged soldiers,” she said. (PNA)