Sunday, February 18, 2007

Thoughts on the Alumni Homecoming

With the Alumni Homecoming Festivities over, I begin to explore on the reason that leads all cavaliers back to the Philippine Military Academy. I may not have all the answers but just maybe some insight will be gathered and this phenomenon can be understood.
Around this time last year, I wrote a similar article basically about the Alumni Homecoming. This time though, I intend to write it in the eyes of a second class cadet who has been part of the celebration not just a mere participant but living out the reason why the cavaliers go back for their yearly pilgrimage.
The day before the event, I was lucky enough to go to the city for some duty I have to attend to. This was the opportunity for me to pass through the road from Baguio City to PMA filled up with all types of banners welcoming the different classes that will flock the Academy. I remember the times when I ride in front of our van a few years back being marveled by the kind of entertainment these banners bring as we travel to PMA all the way from Manila. I even remember an instance when there was a banner as early as EDSA leading the Cavaliers as they trek to Fort Del Pilar. In a comical way, these banners do bring about fond memories of the wonderful days of cadetship.
In the afternoon after that, I stood in front of the mess hall observing the people that were roaming around. I presume many of them were Cavaliers as evident in the way they tell stories that I can not hear but was full of life as they relate it to members of their family who were following them behind. There were those who would want to see the mess hall just to be reminded how it was back then when they were heading up and chinning in amidst the shouts of their upperclassmen. People were everywhere yet it seemd that somehow they knew each other, their eyes were filled with some kind of nostalgia over the sights that were not new to them, the places that they were seeing where in fact once their home for at least four years of their lives.
Early in the morning of the Homecoming, I walked the side part of the Borromeo Field. It's serene stature, ready for the coming cavaliers. In a matter of hours, the grounds will once again be filled with the very same people that sweated it out in the same field. I could just imagine the millions of stories that the field before me holds. A few hours after that, as I don my full dress uniforms and the cavaliers passing in front of me, I can't help it but notice how the faces seemed to be just like the normal people you I see day in and day out. Others have grown beer bellies, have developed gray hair and wrinkles but still all of them marched in cadence with the bass drum just as how it has been in the last 50 years or so in the Academy. Finally at the end of the parade the thousands of people were silent as the band begins to play the Alma Mater Song. As I place my gaze at the many different people lined up in front of the grandstand, I can't help it but realize that in some way, the words of the song echo the same sentiment that they themselves have learned back in the days when they were wearing the same uniform that I was wearing.
Just like Alumni Homecomings of any school, it is an event filled with wonderful memories. But then, the difference with the PMA Alumni Homecoming is that it is filled not just with wonderful memories but also experiences that has forever changed the lives of the men and women who has donned the cadet uniform. Somehow, the many people who come back every February are those that were given a chance of a lifetime to make something out of their life and be a the best our of what they were given

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