Aurora man is top PMA graduate

By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines -- A young man from Aurora who entered the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) to fulfill his father's failed childhood dream of becoming a soldier will lead this year's graduating Masiglahi class.

As the top graduate, Cadet First Class Karl Winston Cacanindin, 23, will receive the Presidential Saber from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at graudation ceremonies at Fort del Pilar here on March 16.

Cadet First Class Cynthia Forteza, who ranked ninth, is the only female cadet among the Top 10 graduating cadets.

Other top cadets are: Cadets First Class Lemuel Manicdo, Roger Flores, Nelson Liwanag, Larry Mayao, Erick Mabborang, Carlito Santiago, Glen de Ramos, and Christopher Dupalco.

Although Cacanindin's family had yet to receive official word of his feat on Tuesday, his father Fortunato said he is "very, very happy" about his eldest son's achievement in the country's premiere military training school.

It was his third and youngest son, Paul Yves, a third class cadet (second year) at the PMA, who broke the news of Karl Winston's achievement to their parents.

The good news, however, was tempered by sorrow because, Fortunato said, Karl Winston's grandmother, Victoria, 73, died on Monday and the brothers have yet to go home to pay their last respects.

But Fortunato said Victoria would have been proud of her grandson.

"Nung una, makikita mo, against siya na mag-aral sa PMA. Six months na siya dun, mukhang ayaw pa rin. Nung maka one year na siya, ayos na kalagayan niya [You could sense that Karl Winston did not like to study at PMA. Six months later, he was still hesitant. But after a year, he eventually adjusted to the life of a PMA cadet]," Fortunato said.

Karl Winston originally wanted to be a civil engineer. But his father insisted on fulfilling his dream of seeing his sons become soldiers to serve the country.

Fortunato never got a chance to be a soldier because he married young. His elder brother, Lauro, is a master sergeant in the Philippine Air Force (PAF). Three of Lauro's sons are in the PAF as well.

Karl Winston graduated valedictorian in elementary and high school in Barangay (village) Mucdol in Dipaculao, a seaside town in Aurora.

His mother, Eleanor, is a public high school teacher. Fortunato works in the municipal government's engineering office.

He said his son might have made it because he is persistent.

"When he can't get his assignments right, he really strives until these are done well," Fortunato said.