Cadet First Class Gemalyn Sugui emerged at the top of the male-dominated Philippine Military Academy (PMA) graduating class this year, the military school announced today.
Sugui, who hails from Echague, Isabela, bested 196 graduates of her class, called Masidlawin, which was comprised of 173 males and 23 females. This achievement makes Sugui the sixth female PMA valedictorian since 1993.
The 25-year-old cadet said she was surprised to graduate at the top of her class.
“Maybe the lord has a plan [for me, maybe that’s] why he put me in this position even if I wasn’t praying for it. He gave it to me because he knew I could handle it,” Sugui said in Filipino in a taped interview with CNN Philippines.
The daughter of a farmer and a public school teacher, Sugui said that she’s saddened that her family won’t be able to attend the class’s graduation which will be held this afternoon. The public, including the graduates’ families, are barred from witnessing the occasion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s really sad because this is what I’ve been waiting for, for my family to witness this very important PMA event because it’s the culmination of all my hardships in the academy,” she added.
PMA Superintendent Vice Admiral Allan Cusi said barring graduates’ parents from witnessing the event was a necessary decision that was meant to safeguard the health of the cadets and the entire PMA community.
“As a parent, I know how heartbreaking and disappointing that decision is, but we have to do what is best for all. Safety and health are paramount at all times,” Cusi said.
Besides emerging at the top of her class, Sugui will be conferred a string of awards, including the Presidential Saber, the Achievement Award for Academic Excellence, the Joint United States Military Advisory Group Award, the Philippine Army Saber, the Spanish Armed Forces Award, the Social Sciences Plaque, the Management Plaque, and the Rule of Law Award.
Trailing just behind Sugui in the class’ top five is Jade Villanueva from Tacloban City, Jefferson Salazar of Zamboanga City, Rojes Gaile Jamandre from Ifugao province, and Catabay Ladyong of Kalinga-Apayao.
According to the PMA, a total of 100 graduates, including Sugui, will be joining the Philippine Army. Forty-five others will join the Philippine Air Force, while 51 will join the Philippine Navy.