FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City: The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on Saturday thanked its lucky stars for the no-show of four presidential candidates in its annual alumni homecoming here in the Philippines’ summer capital.
The country’s premier military school, however, welcomed Luli Arroyo-Bernas, daughter of former president and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Bernas had been invited by this year’s Silver Jubilarians, the PMA Class of 1991, which had adopted her.
Wearing a dark gray suit, she joined her “mistahs” as they received their medallions from the PMA Alumni Association.
The Class of 1991 donated P500,000 for the PMA endowment fund and professorial chair fund.
“It is an exemption,” Lt. Col. Reynaldo Balido Jr., spokesman for the PMA, said of the invitation to Bernas.
But Balido Jr. , a member of PMA Class of 1999, noted the academy’s success in weeding out partisan politics from the homecoming this year.
He cited a long-held guideline that the reunion be free from any politicking activity like overt campaigning.
In the past, however, honorary member-politicians joined the parade at the Borromeo Field, considered the school’s “hallowed grounds” where only PMA cadets and alumni can march.
In Saturday’s homecoming, Balido said honorary member-politicians were allotted seats at the grandstand but none of them atended.
“We were successful against the epal [scene-stealer],” he added.
Rudy Vasquez, a member of Class of 1971, said, “Buti naman wala epal [It’s good the epal did not show up].”
The alumni detest the epal, he added.
PMA alumnus-politicians like Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan, who is running for Vice President under the United Nationalist Alliance, however marched side by side with their mistahs in the Class of 1971.
Other adopted members of the PMA alumni did not show up–Grace Poe, Class of 1994; Manuel Roxas 2nd , Class of 1984; Rodrigo Duterte, Class of 1967; and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Class of 1969.
All are candidates for President in the May 2016 elections.