How a woman overcame poverty to finish top 8 in PMA

Pia Regalado, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2017 02:09 AM | Updated as of Mar 08 2017 07:04 AM

Joyzy Funchica dedicates PMA graduation honors to late mom

MANILA -- Joyzy Funchica was born to a family wherein education was a rarity due to poverty.

Born fourth of six siblings in January 1994 in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, the young Joyzy saw her older siblings attend up until high school, before they stopped schooling because of lack of funds despite their parents’ joint efforts to earn more money to send them to school.

"Ang mama ko, sumasama minsan sa papa ko na nagmimina, nagbubunot ng mga damo, naglalabada, kahit na anong form ng trabaho,” she told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.

When she finished high school as the class valedictorian and went to Caraga State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in secondary education majoring in mathematics, her parents could not be any happier.

Photo courtesy of Joyzy Funchica

Her mother Anita was so proud of Joyzy when news broke out that she will attend the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City to pursue her dream of becoming a soldier.

However, tragedy struck in August of 2014. She was in her second year in PMA when her mother passed away. Up until now, she does not know the cause of her mother’s death.

Instead of getting paralyzed because of the bad news, this only motivated the cadet to excel in her education.

“Parang gusto ko po siyang maging proud sa akin na habang nakatingin siya sa akin from above, na naging successful ako,” she shared.

During her stay at PMA, she continued to work hard as one of the cadets of the Salaknib Class of 2017, becoming the first platoon leader and company academic officer. Her excellence earned her a Course Excellence Award, and she was also a consistent dean’s lister.

It was no wonder that she placed eighth in her graduating class this year.

"Sa akin talaga, masaya na ako maka-graduate sa PMA kasi isang malaking honor na ‘yun eh, na makaka-graduate ka sa PMA. Tapos bonus na lang ang pagiging top 10."

She, along with four other cadets who will graduate as part of the top 10, will join the Philippine Air Force.

“Itong success ko, ino-offer ko talaga sa kanya kasi siya talaga ang naging inspiration ko na mas pag-igihin pa ang aral ko dito,” she said.

Equality in the Air

Joyzy is just one of the eight women in the top 10 of the 167 PMA cadets graduating on March 12.

Only 33 members of the graduating class will become aerocadets and will join the Air Force. Thirteen are women, according to her.

Although "draw lots" initially decided what branch of service each cadet will be assigned to, she decided not to swap places with her mistahs in exchange of serving in the Air Force.

"Kasi sa Air Force, kahit babae ka, you have to chance na magpalipad ng eroplano, male and females kasi equal talaga. Kung babae ka man, puwede kang makapasok sa Philippine Air Force Flying School.”

Photo courtesy of Joyzy Funchica

This was a welcome door for Joyzy, who admitted being a non-swimmer prior to her PMA stint despite living a few meters away from the Agusan River. 

From day one, PMA cadets undergo various training to face their fears.

"Kailangan mo siya i-overcome kasi puwede ka bumagsak, pwede ka ma-turn back, mag-join ka sa next class. Kung gusto mong maging successful, you have to overcome your weaknesses,” she said.

Sixty-three women, including the class valedictorian, will graduate in President Rodrigo Duterte’s first PMA graduation ceremony as the commander-in-chief. It is by far the largest since women were accepted in the PMA in 1993.