The rise of Matikas
by : Ret. Col Romeo Y. Lim
BEING the Scout Rangers chief of staff for eight years, I cannot but help but favor this unit above all other service units in the Armed Forces. While there are other elite units in the police and military like the Special Action Forces of the PNP and the Special Warfare Group of the Philippine Navy, the Scout Rangers of the Philippine Army are the best. But then of course as expected, I am extremely biased.
Having said that, I also have my pick for the best class in the Philippine Military Academy: "Matikas" Class 1983. What would be my yardstick for saying that? Well, since the birth of the Academy in 1905, no class has taken Scout Ranger training for all of its members except PMA Class 1983.
I also believe that it will be this class that will be the next leaders of the AFP and PNP in the near future. They now have two Commodores in the Coast Guard (n.b. the Coast Guard used to be with the AFP until it was transferred to the Department of Transportation and Communications several years back), almost all its members are senior colonels with a significant number belonging to the general staff or chiefs of staff of either Area Commands or Infantry Divisions. Others are already deputy brigade commanders. Some of them are also part of the principal staff of the Philippine Air Force while others are key personnel of the Flag-Officer-In Command (the Philippine Navy’s highest official). Those who joined the Philippine Constabulary (now the PNP) have become or are Police Provincial Directors all over the country.
Even those who resigned the service and joined the corporate world are doing well including the class baron, then 1LT Clemente Enriquez. Their youngest member, Allen Capuyan, retires in 2018 but even now I can see that he has the makings of a Chief of Staff (AFP).
The only sad episodes in the meteoric rise of this class are the deaths of 23 of its members. Its first casualty was Ray Anthony Alfabeto who died while still in training as a fresh graduate. His death was a blow to his father. BGen. Edgardo Alfabeto who was the Commander of the Regional Unified Command (composed of Philippine Army and then Philippine Constabulary soldiers) in the 80s.
I tell you, this is the class to watch.
Now, I am not a feng shui expert or numerologist but I noticed that a lot of PMA classes who end in odd numbers generally produce exemplary alumni. Class ’51 example, has the courageous Fortunato Abat who even in his 80s is still in the frontline of advocacies that younger PMA alumni would not even dare join. Class ’61 Senator Rodolfo Biazon is a prolific lawmaker and Class ’71 has two senators (Ping Lacson and Gregorio Honasan) and one or two mayors among its crop. Despite its perceived notoriety, Class ’95 already has a senator, Antonio Trillanes IV. Some members of the class are also, in fact, gearing up for the 2010 elections.
Some of you may wonder why I did not include former President Fidel V. Ramos. It was because he was sent by PMA to West Point and is considered a West Point alumnus.
On the other hand, Class ’52 only produced two generals and both of them died by accident. Moreover, it had the distribution of being the "most hated" class of then strongman President Ferdinand Marcos because one of them, Colonel Delfin Mendoza, served as the aide of former President Diosdado Macapagal.
Once the most popular class in the early days of the Arroyo administration, Class ’78 has lost a lot of its luster because of its strong connections to the now sorely unpopular President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is an honorary member of the class.
Of course, it would be extremely naïve of me to generalize how lucky, how productive or how exemplary the members of a class are just by the year they graduated. They are just coincidences that I like to play around with.
But one thing I don’t play with is my fearless forecast of the future of PMA Class ’83. All things considered, it may be the class that will significantly reduce our insurgency problem. To them, I say Godspeed!