When the teasers for this telenovela started to come out, I have been bugged by all sorts of question about PMA. I tried to answer some but then again when almost everybody asks the same question one becomes tired of it and eventually I just smile or maybe shut up. And so, when the date of its first episode was finally revealed, I was one of those who wanted to see it. Not because I idolize Kim Chiu or what but because I wanted to know how close their portrayal is to the real thing. When it was already being shown, I had to answer more questions, this time there is already a basis upon which questions can be asked, so I'll try to make this as enlightening as possible.
For those people who have consistently visited my blog in the past years, you would realize that i have practically blogged about the whole four years of my stay at PMA except for the first nine months when I was plebe (I think you know why I was not blogging during those times). I am not so certain of this but I think I was the first one that did this and I think nowhere in the Internet or perhaps in any form of media can you find an almost daily account of a cadet's life at the Philippine Military Academy. I did not intend it to happen but blogging was my way of relieving the stress while I was a cadet. My accounts may differ from one cadet to another but generally this is how life in PMA is.
And so, I go back to ABS-CBN's Tayong Dalawa. For one, I do not like how they portrayed the way one goes to PMA. First and foremost, the Academy does not discriminate social status among her potential cadets. I hated how the richer David Garcia seemed to get in that easily while the poorer one was having a hard time getting in because of "financial problems." If truth be told most of the cadets and even those who have graduated already from the Academy are those from humble beginnings. They are sons and daughters of farmers, ordinary laborers and even jobless parents. Another startling truth is that most of those who do not survive training are those who came from well-to-do families. I do not have the figures to support this claim but, if you ask any PMA graduate they will give you the same observation. I think that this is because those who came from good lives are not used to the difficulties of training as a cadet that is why they back out while those who have been used to being poor and all see PMA as their passport to a better life. In fact, one of the things that made me stay inside the Academy was the stories of these classmates who were forced into PMA by their circumstances. I felt that I had to respect my place in the Academy because for many of my peers inside its halls, it was their way out of their miseries. Of course, I have to respect the writers of this series, it was necessary for the drama of the show. I am making this assertions to encourage those young people from humble beginnings not to be discouraged by their social status but instead use it to motivate them to dream big. The Academy is a place for everybody who dares to achieve beyond their expectations and be the best that they can ever be regardless of economic status.
All of the marching and routine activities that was shown was real. Most people even are startled that we actually do the funny thing in the hallway moving from one place to another where we seem to just slide our foot in little steps briskly instead of walking the normal way. That by the way is what we call "trotting." In the Academy you are earning your privileges as you grow in rank including your privilege to walk. When you are a plebe (a new cadet) you are to always trot inside barracks and always double time when outside. Those are just few of the things that you have to do which if I will try to enumerate all can be written into a whole manual on how to become a plebe at the Academy.
Some of the buildings that was used in many of the scenes was off limits to civilians even if you are Kim Chiu. I find it funny how in the confrontation scene with Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu when they graduated, they were confronting each other near the stairways of Lim Hall which is Administration Building. In my four years at the Academy, I can not remember a time that I brought along a civilian there much more go into a dramatic confrontation with anyone. Its actually the building where the offices of the Academy are. With that I mean most of the top honchos of the Academy are there going about their usual business. When we go there we try to be very careful of everything that we do because there are more eyes that will observe our demeanor. Of course, the viewers do not know what building is what.
When Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu were "roaming around" and they got lost somewhere in the woods until Anderson was bitten by a snake, I find that hilarious. I do not think they could have strayed so far into the woods that he can't possibly know where they are. Even if he was to join the Air Force, I think anyone who has gone through PMA has a very good sense of direction and to be lost that way was unimaginable. Also, with the training that he received, it was the stupid first aid for his snakebite. If indeed he was bitten by a poisonous snake, he would have died before he was able to go home the following morning. I felt that the writers should have considered him already graduating from the Academy with very good survival instincts when they wrote that scene.
Another part that got me confused was how Gerald Anderson was able to roam around Baguio City in civilian clothes while he was still a cadet. In the dialogue, I think he applied for a "Weekend Pass." I do not remember such a thing as a weekend pass, what we have then was "Weekend LEAVE." Assuming that he blurted out the wrong words, it would still be impossible since a cadet is only allowed to go on weekend leaves when he is already on his last year, believe me it was my task to make the necessary communications for this type of leave when I was a cadet. Considering the uniform that he wore when he met Kim Chiu (meeting at Melchor Hall is still not allowed but that's another story), he was a yearling or a second year cadet, he is still not allowed to enjoy such privilege. Meaning, he went out of camp without authority, an offense that could have him discharged from the Academy. If I was to do something like that as a cadet, I would not even think of riding a boat at Burnham Park for fear that I might be seen and be caught. Again, with due respect to the writers, that was an incorrect portrayal.
Well, I still do have many comments, in fact one thing that kept me from watching that series was just to see if they had the correct portrayal. But then again, I still put my praises up to those who came up with the show since I think it is still the closest portrayal of life in the Academy that I have seen so far. I would like to personally thank them for putting my Alma Mater into the limelight. I think that most of those I commented upon can be justified with their cinematic reasons. I loved it when every now and then some people I know inside the Academy are included in the scenes, it brings a smile in the face. For that, thank you very much