Memoirs of a Navy Brat






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The Pain of a Shattered Dream  




"It was a dream that would elude me, and forever remain........a shattered dream."

Even when I was still in high school, I already had that passionate ambition to follow my father’s footsteps. It was my dream to enter the Philippine Military Academy, of which Dad was a Class 1944 member, and join the naval service.

There were three of us from our section of our Cavite National High School class, who took and passed the PMA entrance exams. Alvin Urbi and Tony Vitan, were the other two. I was vent on fulfilling my dream so I prepared hard for the physical fitness part of the recruitment process. I filed a leave of absence from school and concentrated on the preparations, waking up early mornings to jog at the parade ground, and also doing some backyard weightlifting and calisthenics. My preparations paid off very well, as I was made the lead candidate in our group to demonstrate to the others how an exercise routine was to be properly executed. Fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson, who happen to also come from the province of Cavite, was part of this batch of candidates.

After the physical exams, done at Camp Aguinaldo, the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we were instructed to report to the V. Luna General Hospital on another day, for the complete medical and psychiatric examinations. The psychiatric exams were conducted at Ward 24, where I got to meet for the first time, a certain Capt Yllana, a good-looking military doctor who walked with a limp. He is the father of actors Anjo and Jomari. I would again meet the doctor years later, under job related circumstances.

Soon, the anxious waiting for the final results began. As with the entrance exams, Dad, being in the service, had advance information on who made it even before the results were officially published. At his office at the Manila Naval Station, where he was the Commanding Officer, Dad calmly broke the sad news to me that I was not going to make it. It was found out in the medical exams that I had a perforated left ear drum, a damage I probably incurred from diving for mussels and swimming underwater. He told me he appealed my case with his friend, General Sotto, who was then the Surgeon General of the Armed Forces, but that the poor General couldn’t make the head of the EENT Department of the hospital change the findings. He was told that actual firing exercises would aggravate my ear condition.

I was completely devastated and totally speechless, and felt as if the whole world collapsed on me. I just lost, what seemed to me, something that was already a part of my future - my dream….. now shattered, and will forever just remain as such in my memories…. as a shattered dream. But dreams can be shattered by harsh realities, and these I had to accept for me to go on. Military life, by divine plan, was not intended for me, so I supposed. Dad probably could not stand the pain and sight of a grieving son, that he asked me to go downtown to see a movie. I don't even remember the movie or what it was all about, for I was extremely out of focus.

On hindsight, I thought maybe, it was a blessing in disguise, for you can never tell what fate would have befallen me had I made it to the Academy and into the service. Alvin and Lacson eventually bested the other candidates from Cavite, and got the appointments to represent the province.

My ear perforation was patiently closed over time by then Captain Nicanor Alto, a military EENT doctor, who would later on become Chief Surgeon of the Philippine Army. I think, however, that the name of the good doctor was a misnomer, for Dr. Alto was a diminutive man.

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