A female cadet from Ilocos Sur topped the graduating class of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) this year.
Dionne Mae Umalla, a 21-year-old cadet from Alilem, Ilocos Sur, reigned as the topnotcher of the PMA “Mabalasik” Class of 2019. She bested 262 graduates and became the fifth woman to top the PMA graduating batch since 1999.
Umalla is joined by four more women and four fellow natives of Northern Luzon in the top ten graduates. Her batch is the first graduating class to finish in the month of May instead of March after the academic calendar shifted to follow the K-12 system.
The top ten graduates of the PMA class of 2019 are as follows:
Dionne Mae Apolog Umalla
Jonathan Eslao Mendoza
Jahziel Gumapac Tandoc
Daniel Heinz Bugnosen Lucas
Aldren Maambong Altamero
Richard Balabag Lonogan
Marnel Dinihay Fundales
Glyn Elinor Buansi Marapao
Ruth Angelique Ricardo Pasos
Daryl James Jalgalado Ligutan
The PMA also awarded the Athletic Saber Award to Kimberly Baculi and Nicolas Guysayko, the Journalism Award to Geoffrey Valdez and the Chief of Staff Saber Award to Jersey Calimag.
Half of the top graduates this year were women, which PMA officials said was due to their competitive attitude.
Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista explained that there are only 80 slots allotted for women in the PMA, so only the best of their class, such as salutatorians and valedictorians, may be admitted to the academy.
“Because the stringent process of determining the number of females coming in is more tedious because they have fight like for instance 400 coming in 80 are females so the number of female applicants will fight for 80 slots, they are more competitive,” Evangelista said.
However, valedictorian Umalla said gender had little to do with doing well in the PMA.
“It’s not about whether you’re a male or a female. It’s how you contribute to the betterment of PMA and how youstrive for excellence kaya for me wala namang balance-balance, it’s just how you perform,” she said.
Umalla was also the valedictorian in her high school, Saint Louis College.