This year's Philippine Military Academy (PMA) valedictorian said Sunday she abandoned her initial goals of becoming a doctor and a teacher due to financial constraints, but touted her alma matter for helping her find a new purpose.
Dionne Mae Umalla, the 5th woman to top a PMA class, said her mother, a teacher, single-handedly raised her and her 3 brothers, and could not afford to send her to medical school.
Umalla said she instead took "with a heavy heart" an education course in college, in which she would have free tuition and lodging for 4 years.
Two years into the course, Umalla said her mother and 3 brothers pushed her to take the PMA entrance examination.
"I initially hesitated because of the newfound love I have for teaching. But then, I love my mother more than anything else and it was difficult for me to say no," she said, in tears.
"Many of my mistah and perhaps many more of my underclass were just like me who were pushed and lured into entering the academy, into entering this profession. But have we really failed in our dreams? My 4 years of stay here in PMA tells me otherwise," she added.
Umalla said she realized that in dreaming to be a doctor and a teacher, she "only wanted one thing: to serve our country and people in those professions."
"We became not what we wanted, but what we need to be, to serve the country and the Filipino people," she added.
ABS-CBN, 26 May 2019