Eight women are graduating top of their class at the country's premier military school.
The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 2017 is led by a female valedictorian, Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez of Cabanatuan City.
The PMA Salaknib ("Sanggalang ay Lakas at Bukay Para sa Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan") Class of 2017 top 10 are as follows:
1. Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez, Cabanatuan City
2. Philip Modesto Viscaya, Ligao City, Albay
3. Eda Glis Buansi Marapao, Baguio City
4. Cathleen Jovie Santiano Baybayan, San Fernando, Pampanga
5. Carlo Emmanuel Manalasan, Canlas, Pampanga
6. Shiela Joy Ramiro Jallorina, Bagabag, Nueva Viscaya
7. Sheil Marie Calonge De Guzman, Manaoag, Pangasinan
8. Joyzy Mencias Funchica, Butuan City
9. Resie Jezreel Arrocena Hucalla, Compostella Valley
10.Catherine Mae Emeterio Gonzales, Zamboanga City
Also recognized are Franklin Esperanzate Dellomos of Paranaque City, who will be awarded the "Athletic Saber"; Michelle Serdino Calusor of Naga City, who will receive the Journalism Award; and, Karen Joy Benitez Gamboa of Nueva Ecija, the Computing and Information Sciences Plaque.
They are set to graduate along with the rest of their batch on Sunday. Their graduation shall also mark President Rodrigo Duterte's first PMA graduation ceremony as commander-in-chief.
Of the 167 graduating on Sunday, 63 are female, the largest since women were accepted into the PMA.
Republic Act No. 7192 granted women in the Philippines equal access to the service academies, and the first batch of female cadets were accepted into the PMA in April 1993.
According to the official website of the PMA, the number of female cadets accepted has since been limited to not more than 5 percent of the total number of cadets entering the academy at any one time.
Female cadets have graduated with the classes of 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000.
The first female cadet to graduate top of her class is Arlene A. Dela Cruz of the Class of 1999. She had also received several awards upon her graduation, including the Presidential Saber, Philippine Navy Award, Navy Courses Plaque, Social Sciences Plaque, and the Humanities Plaque.
- with a report from Micaella Ilao, ABS-CBN News