I retired on June 7, 2021, after more than 36 years of active military service. Despite the COVID threat and the many prohibitions, I was honored to be tendered with a ceremony at the PA Grandstand and a testimonial dinner at the Ricarte Hall. For this alone, I was very thankful. Most social gatherings were disallowed and many collegues were allowed to simply retire unceremoniously due to the onslaught of the pandemic.
So I drafted my speech. I realized it was not as easy to write a speech days before retirement – in fact it was difficult to focus, think and do. I was overwhelmed, mainly emotionally – the thought of leaving the life you lived the past 36 years.
I wanted it to be short, direct and simple. Don’t forget those to whom credit is due and some balancing there. And so it was.
Appropriate Greetings . . .
This is the second time that I am making a valedictory address. The first one was in my elementary graduation (I will not divert there) and now. In both situations, I did not graduate as the valedictorian. As in the first time, I am not saying goodbye either. This organization, the Philippine Army, her officers and men, particularly those who were with me are our family the past 36-years, 3-months and 15-days and they will remain our family, our friends.
I will not talk about my accomplishments. I have nothing personally. Those attributed to me were that of my units, the collective efforts, dedications and sacrifices of the men and women; the leadership and guidance of my Commanders and the support of higher headquarters and other stakeholders.
Today simply marks the inevitable change. This is made special (you see we are all in bush coat and nice clothes) to remind me that tomorrow, I am no longer required to rise up early. There is no need – it now comes naturally. I am no longer required to wear uniforms – even if I would like to; and my hair, they stay – they will not grow long even if I’d like to because I lost my options already. And the best – tomorrow, I will now earn pay daily even if I don’t work. They call it pension.
Today I will say what I’d like to say every day. From a grateful heart, my BIG! BIG! thanks:
To God for giving me life.
To my parents and relatives: Tatay died early so Nanay heroically raised us alone since I was three along with my Ate Fury; my brothers Roy and June. My Ate died in May 2019, my brother Roy is in Baler and June, our youngest is craving to come from London. They both could not come due to COVID prohibitions. My mother also died in 2019 but her legacy for honesty and integrity continue as my inspiration and guiding light.
To my grandparents Dade and Ina, my aunts and uncles, who helped us survived through the most trying times of our lives. My many cousins, my staunchest allies and friends. We grew up like one big family and we remain close to this day. My life would have been different without them.
To my teachers, classmates and friends from Baler Central Elementary School and Mount Carmel High School in Baler Aurora. They are the foundation of my formal education. Many of them remain friends to this day.
To the Philippine Military Academy for nurturing me to become an officer in the Army and for giving me the Makatao Class of 1989 – my extended family. My life in the service was made easier and fun because of them. Many mistah helped me along the way. Many of them consistently – all the way. It is funny to recall how wonderful they were: Cadet Nono Plaza used to iron my white pants and black shoes for Saturday Inspection while I was doing those of others. Cadets Ric Bayhon and Nick Driz, my room mates helped tempered my excesses (maganity). Cadet Alex Luna was my very persistent academic coach who helped me passed my removals. Truly, I could not survived the Academy without them.
Another mistah, Lt Lowell Tan, now Brigadier General, submitted housing application in my behalf- without informing me – and that is why I have a quarter since 2000. Cpt Juvy Max Uy, now Major General and the Commander of 6th Infantry Division helped me get the UNMISET post in 2001. Many other mistah willingly gave and helped without being asked. I cannot mention each of you but you know who you are. You are just wonderful! I could not thank you enough but just be assured I will be here for you too.
To Cpt Ricardo Banayat PAF and Cpt Felicisimo Khu, our tactical officers. After graduation, they handed me two-inch thick Delinquency Reports, awarded but not effected. Otherwise, I surely would not have graduated. I remember I swore to prove they did the right decision. I believe they do not regret.
In the active service, I have my former Commanders who entrusted me with critical posts that had set the trajectory of my career.
To BGen Danilo Olay Sr. PMA 65 who was the Commander of 8ID. He introduced me to Intelligence and made me the Chief of the Division Analysis Center in 1994. He was like a father to me and had he not died in that fatal helicopter crash, I could have had a different career path. In his honor, we inaugurated last 15 May 2021 the Olay Lounge. This is a lounge at the PA Lawn Tennis Court for tennis players. He was known to be an avid tennis player.
To Colonel Sonny Cachuela PMA 76 He designated me as his Administrative Officer at OG1 in 2002. I got the UNMO post from there where I had a fulfilling experience working with United Nations with other international officers and among the people of East Timor.
To Colonel Rodolfo Santiago, my first Commander at 12ISU in 1996. He got me at DISG in 2004 and designated me as Assistant Chief of Intelligence, G2, the Commander Special Project Unit and Executive Officer all at the same time. It surely was rotting but I learned a lot. When he was Commandant of the AFPCGSC, he took me again as the Chief of Staff of AFPCGSC in July 2015 until his retirement in November 2016. He remained a mentor, coach, friend, brother and inspiration to me.
To General Vic Porto, I am grateful for his trust and confidence. He designated me as Commander 11IB in Negros Island in 2010. His leadership was so inspiring you would not want to fail him.
To General Emmanuel Bautista, who retired as Chief of Staff, AFP and Major General Pio Q Dinoso, the Commander of 8ID who were instrumental in my designation as the Deputy AGSMO post, the Chief Promotion Division OJ1 and my War College and Master of Arts in Strategic Security Studies at National Defense University Washington DC. These were fulfilling assignments, schoolings and experience that had impact on my career and personal life.
To General Glorioso Miranda made me his G1, PA in 2017 through the recommendation of then MGen Elmer Pabale who was my Chief at Army Modernization Project Management Office or AMPMO (which later became AGSMO). It was not easy being G1 during the entire Marawi Siege and under Gen Miranda. Those of you who were with us during that time understand what I mean.
It may have been rotting to say the least but the G1 post paved the way for my designation as Brigade Commander of 803Bde in Samar by then CGPA Lt General Rolando D Bautista to whom I also owe gratitude.
To MGen Raul Farnacio, then Commander 8ID for being a good Commander and friend.
These are all inter-related and never a single man in each of the decision point, so I am sure there were others who gave me favors and made my life easier – some staff officers, underclass, Non-Commisioned Officers, Civilian Human Resource, like Ma’am Letty Lacanienta, who I could not mention. I thank you anyway and pray God repay you ten-fold for what you have done. . .
To LtGen Gilbert I Gapay then CGPA who appointed me as the Commander Installation Management Command, which I have just relinquished. I am also thankful to the Commanding General Philippine Army Major General Andres C Centino and to the immediate past CGPA Lt General Jose Faustino, General Cirilito Sobejana. Their support enabled IMCOM to perform and accomplish its mission and rise to relevance. IMCOM is now much better because of them and their supportive staff.
My IMCOM family – thank you all for your support and friendship. I have said this before, we could not have accomplish anything at all without your professional attitude and dedication to duties and responsibilities.
To the Philippine Army, to whom I owe so much. She nurtured me to what I am now and gave me all: education, training, travels around the country and abroad, friends from within and those I met along the way and there are many. Friends I hope to keep for life. I am privileged to have been part of many meaningful changes: the modernization, the Army Transformation Roadmap, the Special Operations Team that used to be the primary tool in all campaigns to Peace and Development Teams, the Enhance Comprehensive Local Integration Program to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). I had it all and I am retiring with a contented heart.
Of course to my in-laws: the Ong Family of Baler and Baltimore who gave me Beth, my wife. Tatay Ben and Nanay Ofie, Ellen, Edith, Edna, Noel, Benjoe and Elmer. Your support morally and financially and more importantly your love, have strengthened us. Hope to see you soon.
Finally, amidst the peculiar call of duty the past 30-plus years, I owe it all to my family for their support, sacrifices, understanding and love. To my only wife Beth and only son Elimar, and my two new inspirations Elijah and EZ, you are God’s blessing. Thank you!