DAVAO CITY - Three cadets of the Philippine Military Academy graduated from the Australian Defense Force Academy (ADFA) on Dec. 5.
Ensign Leonides Valmoria Jr. from Cagayan de Oro City, 2nd Lieutenant Kith Artiza from Agusan del Sur, and 2nd Lieutenant Jomari Salazar from Digos City successfully completed the three-year course in their chosen degree at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia.
In 2017, the three cadets--representing the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Army, Navy, and Air Force)--were selected to pursue their studies at ADFA, through their partner, the University of New South Wales.
This is part of the Defense Cooperation Program between the Philippines and Australia.
The 25-year old Artiza finished Bachelor of Arts in Business and International Political Studies in UNSW and will continue his military training for one year at the Royal Military College in Australia.
A Lumad from Banwaon tribe of Agusan del Sur, Artiza wants to empower the community and want to serve them after his studies.
"There's a need for a change kasi with regards sa, alam naman natin ang sinasabi ng kabilang side, which is nahihirapan ang mga Lumad, na walang tulong sa gobyerno. What I saw was a different thing. The government is trying its best to empower the Lumad population. It's only struggling to do so dahil sa gulo na nangyayari sa aming lugar. I think I would be more impactful kung sa Lumad areas ako ma-assign, as being a Lumad, mas naintindihan ko at makakatulong to bridge the Lumad sa government," he said.
Valmoria, the son of a retired police inspector, finished Bachelor of Science in Aviation and Mathematics and Statistics. The 22-year old said it was a fulfilling experience having graduated from a world-class university. But he added there were challenges during the course as they were bombarded not just with the academics, but also with joint-service military trainings such as military essays, presentations, knowledge tests, physical trainings, physical fitness tests, uniform and rooms inspections.
"My patriotic ideals inspired me as well to step up and take the road less travelled in serving the country in a way that might cost my life. I was also inspired by the fact that while training in the Academy, I and my parents would not pay a single cent for tuition fees and after I graduate, I will have an immediate stable job in the AFP as a commissioned officer," he said.
After a year of military training at the Royal Military Academy, they will be posted in the Philippine Military Academy for six months to impart their learnings from ADFA.
"To those who aspire and want to serve the country by being in the military, go on. It is not an easy journey but it is worth a try. If defending the nation is your dream, chase for it. Strive for it. Never ever be double-minded and always give your best when necessary," Valmoria said.