Resilience, hard work, and perseverance paid off for Genison Basilio, who finished his Operations Research and Data Analysis course with flying colors at the United States Coast Guard Academy. He was one of the four cadet exchange students that the Philippine Coast Guard sent to the US four years ago after a stringent selection process.
Nueva Vizcaya governor Carlos Padilla noted in a Facebook post that Genison is the second Novo Vizcayano who graduated from a US Foreign Service Academy after 43 years. The late Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman and General Danny Lim was the first, having graduated from the US Military Academy in 1978.
Genison says he felt very lucky for having received the scholarship, and studying hard was his way of giving back to his country. He admits it wasn’t a walk in the park having to adjust to a different culture and a new environment while having to deal with academic stressors.
Genison, then 21 years old, naturally felt intimidated in the beginning being a minority in the academy. It didn’t help that he wasn’t very tall (he stands 5’5”). “Ang tatangkad ng mga kaklase ko at hindi sila ganoon ka-welcoming,” he recalls of his freshman year in the academy. He somewhat felt discriminated. He was treated differently. “Siguro kasi tingin nila hindi ako mag-e-excel in class.”
Students were allowed some “liberty” on Fridays and Saturdays, which means they usually get to stroll around and have fun. But the Novo Vizcayano used the extra time to study the school materials instead. Genison excelled in subjects related to math and statistics.
Studying at the US Coast Guard Academy was a life-changing experience for Genison, as he had to learn to be more disciplined and responsible. He needed to learn time-management because they had very hectic schedules.
Genison was admittedly very shy and timid at first, and that was one of the things that he had to overcome. He also had to develop his English communication skills, which were needed in numerous class presentations. “I realized that I can only be a better communicator if I will interact with others, so that was what I did.” Those experiences inside and outside the classroom helped increase his confidence level.
Part of the training in the academy, he says, is developing a student’s leadership skills. “Once nag-fourth year ka na, you are called a 1st Class cadet, meron ka ng ima-manage na mga tao, so you have to lead them and direct them in the work that they needed to do,” he shares.
The development was holistic. He learned to be more self-aware, which helped him improve his overall skills—whether it be in academics, military and athletics. He says all the experiences equipped him to become a better individual in the end.
Genison says the reason he did well in this training was also partly because he has a good role model in his father, Philippine Coast Guard District Palawan Commander, Commodore Genito Basilio, who did not skimp on advice whenever he’s asked for it.
The younger Basilio admits he was hesitant at first to enter the naval service because he knew the challenges it would entail, based on the stories of his father, who was a Philippine Military Academy graduate. But the opportunity to apply as an exchange cadet student seemed to have come at a perfect time. Genison had just finished his Management Accounting degree at the St. Mary’s University in Bayombong, and he hasn’t completely decided on what to do next. He took the scholarship opportunity as a sign.
The younger Basilio says his dad has been a huge influence in his life, and sometimes without being totally aware of it. “Hindi ko tine-take into account ang mga advice nya before,” he says, smiling. “But as the years went by, yung mga in-advice nya din naman ang ginagawa ko.”
Genison will undergo officers’ training with the Philippine Coast Guard. He didn’t know yet where he will be assigned, but given the choice, he would like to work in a naval ship. But ultimately, he would like to serve his country in any capacity.