Amongst Brave Men

Sunday, November 05, 2017

pma baguio
Storytime is a series of  stories about my most memorable travel experiences. Read more here.

The shocking rays of the midmorning sun made the white buildings shine like burnished marble. In between the structures and on the margins of the dirtless streets, bevies of pine trees stuck out. The veil of mist was dissolving now, but the air remained chilly and pleasant. We were in the compound of the Philippine Military Academy. Established on December 21, 1936 by virtue of the National Defense Act, it is the breeding ground for future soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.


We walked through the spotless paved lanes, coming across a cadet or two from time to time. They all seemed in a rush. Rigid and dignified. They seemed used to the hordes of tourists that flock here, had learned to tune them – us – out. We passed by a group of trainees being submitted to a round of push-ups by a couple of men in the AFP's fatigues. We all know when someone's being punished, and this was clearly an instance of that. Distractions, event the tiniest of it, weren't tolerated here.
places to visit in baguio

places to visit in baguio

baguio tourist spots

We continued walking until we arrived at the sprawling grounds. On the other side, a massive building was inscribed with the AFP's core values: Courage. Integrity. Loyalty.
baguio tourist attractions

We then proceeded to The Long Gray Line where emblems of every batch that had graduated in the academy were displayed. There were many, and there's ample room for more.
graduate class seals pma

the long gray line pma

As we moved to the academy's museum, we chanced upon a huddle of students marching. In sync and with a palpable sense of pride, they were beautiful to watch.
where to go in baguio

In the museum, there were military paraphernalia displayed. Photos of graduates in tears, and embracing loved ones lined the entrance hall. Further, a replica of a cadet's quarters can be seen. It was simple and practical, without unnecessary flairs. On the other side, different military uniforms can be seen as well as weapons and war booties.
pma costumes

The museum was our last stop and as we made our way to the car, I thought there's a romance to this place. A kind of poetry beneath the facade of stern rules and discipline. This school was so different from what these future soldiers will face in the real world. This contrast creates some sort of tension, the kind that comes with the knowledge that every step would lead to the brink. Yet these men march on, aware of the dangers but very much willing to proceed.

In the grand scheme of things, the end isn't really that important. What matters is the now; the truth you believe in, the cause you fight for. What I saw in the PMA summarizes life for me: we take risks not because of what we'll gain in the future but because of how the thrill of the unknown makes us feel right now.

Philippine Military Academy
Loakan, Fort Gregorio del Pilar, Baguio, Benguet

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