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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

PMA cadets make history by honoring Pope Francis


by Ltc Harold Cabunoc PAO,AFP

When Cadet Denzel Corpuz, 20, and his mistah, Cadet Leoncio Nico De Jesus, 21, received the “Warning Order” to render honors for Pope Francis, they couldn’t describe their feelings.
Both members of the “Gabay-Laya” Class of 2016, Corpuz and De Jesus are the incoming of the PMA Cadet Corps’ Brigade Commander and Deputy Brigade Commander.
The PMA Class of 2015, where the incumbent Brigade Commander belongs, is currently undergoing the Officer Preparatory Course.
From the very start, they considered the job not only as a duty but also as pride and honor. They were set to make history as the first cadet honor guard unit to render honors to a Pope inside the Malacanang Palace.
“I take pride in representing the PMA in this momentous event. At the same time, I am honored to meet a respected leader and a superstar,” said Corpuz, the youngest son of Catholic couple Allan and Marlene, both 51 years old.
Cadet Denzel Corpuz, 20, feels honored to salute before His Holiness Pope Francis during the latter's visit at  Malacanang Palace on Friday, January 16, 2015.
Cadet Denzel Corpuz, 20, feels honored to salute before His Holiness Pope Francis during the latter’s visit at Malacanang Palace on Friday, January 16, 2015.
For his part, De Jesus said that saluting the pontiff was a rare privilege.
“Not all PMA graduates can have the opportunity to salute the Holy Father in a military ceremony. I was very proud of this experience,” said De Jesus, a Born Again Christian.
Practice makes perfect
Two distinct military ceremonies awaited the two upcoming top 2 leaders of the PMA cadet corps during the courtesy call of Pope Francis on President Benigno S Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace on January 16. Corpuz was assigned to lead the Arrival Honors while De Jesus was entrusted to spearhead the Foyer Honors during the pontiff’s departure.

Both cadets felt the pressure that comes with the job of honoring a holy man who is both a Head of State and a Church Leader.
They began thinking about the millions of people who will be watching on TV sets around the world. They were also worried about the hot Manila weather.
Corpuz said that they were expected to show their best performance.
“Cadets are trained how to maintain composure despite the pressures. We are not supposed to be adversely affected by external distractions and sacrifice the quality of our performance,” said Corpuz who is aspiring to become an Army Scout Ranger.
To achieve excellent performance, Corpuz prepared himself and his men for the tough job that lie before them. He wanted everyone to be conditioned mentally and physically so that they can attain perfection in all movements during drills and ceremonies.
“Aside from our routine parade drills, we dedicated one week to practice our movements specifically for the honor ceremonies. We also watched our diet a few days before the D-day,” he added.
Meanwhile, De Jesus said that he wanted to showcase the PMA during the ceremonies but he was worried about possible untoward incidents.
“Our tactical officers demanded perfection and we echoed this to our subordinates. However, I was very worried when there were cadets who collapsed due to the hot weather during our drills in Manila,” revealed De Jesus.
For one week, they led the members of the Honor Guard in practicing the military honors repeatedly.
Starstruck
During the arrival honors, Corpuz found himself a few steps away from the beloved pontiff. He said that he remained focused in order to avoid committing mistakes.

“I couldn’t help but stare at him. Seeing him up close and personal inspired me to perform in the best manner I can,” he narrated.
Cadet Denzel Corpuz stands ramrod straight in front of Pope Francis during the Arrival Honors that was held at Malacanang Palace early morning on January 17. Malacanang Photo Bureau.
Cadet Denzel Corpuz stands ramrod straight in front of Pope Francis during the Arrival Honors that was held at Malacanang Palace early morning on January 17. Malacanang Photo Bureau.
De Jesus said that he was only about two steps away from Pope Francis when he led the Foyer Honors. He tried his best to stand ramrod straight and crisp.
He remained almost motionless and held his sword tight. When the Pope was approaching, he couldn’t help but ‘roll his eyeballs’. He almost forgot to give the right command.
“I was starstruck by His Holiness. I was glancing at him and almost failed to bark my orders,” he said.
Cadet Leoncio Nico De Jesus, 21, said he was starstruck when Pope Francis passed in front of him during the Malacanang rites on Friday, January 16, 2015.
Cadet Leoncio Nico De Jesus, 21, said he was starstruck when Pope Francis passed in front of him during the Malacanang rites on Friday, January 16, 2015.
Both cadets were very glad that they were able to accomplish their assigned mission ‘with flying’ colors.
“I am happy of our humble contribution during the visit of Pope Francis. He had inspired us to raise the lid of our performance,” said Corpuz.
The Honor Guard battalion members received accolades from their superiors who watched the event with their scrutinizing eyes. One of those who mentored them is Major Vladimir Gracilla, a member of PMA Class of 2000.
“I am very happy that these cadets were able to showcase the high standards of discipline that the PMA is known for. We have commended them for successfully accomplishing their mission of rendering honors for the beloved pontiff,” said Gracilla, the Operations Officer of the Headquarters Tactics Group


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