From farm boy to top grad­u­ate

PMA vale­dic­to­rian Hon­to­ria opens up about his hum­ble be­gin­nings

Panay News - - LOCALE - By Rhick Lars Vladimer Al­bay

“I WAS a farm boy,” shared 25- year- old Cadet First Class Jay­war­dene Galilea Hon­to­ria dur­ing his Vale­dic­tory speech, af­ter achiev­ing top hon­ors in this year’s “Alab- Tala” ( Ala­gad ng Lahing Binigkis ng Ta­pang at Lakas) Class 2018 of the Philip­pine Mil­i­tary Academy (PMA).

“I first learned to tie bun­dles of green l eafy veg­eta­bles to­gether, be­fore I learned to tie my own shoelaces. I first learned to shoot cab­bages into a na­tive bas­ket, be­fore I learned to play bas­ket­ball,” Hon­to­ria re­lated, grow­ing up in Barangay Bal­abag, Pavia, Iloilo.

Hon­to­ria i s one of three chi l dren com­ing f rom an un­der­priv­i­leged fam­ily. He spent his child­hood help­ing his father and mother – Os­car, 53, and Nancy, 51 – tend to their mod­est farm. With the aid of his aunt, Co­ra­zon De­maala, he was able to go to school and even­tu­ally en­ter col­lege at West Visayas State Univer­sity.

Hon­to­ria says that as a naïve child he imag­ined he would be happy grow­ing up to be the “most skill­ful farm boy in the world” – even ask­ing his father to teach him how to plough a field at such an early age. But his father of­fered him some somber ad­vice.

“One day while we were rest­ing in our nipa hut, I asked Tatay to teach me how [plough the field],” Hon­to­ria nar­rated. “How­ever, in­stead of teach­ing me, he gave me a very strik­ing state­ment that changed my life for­ever: Toto, mas mag-an magkapot sing ballpen kay sa mag-arado. Mag­tuon gid ikaw ti mayad.’”

“It trans­lates to: Son, it is much eas­ier and lighter to carry a pen than to hold a plough. You should study hard in­stead,” he shared. “Even though I was frus­trated [at first], I re­al­ized that Tatay was right. I have felt how it feels to have [noth­ing] and that drives me to work for some­thing that I do not have.”

“Life taught me this sim­ple les­son, in­spired by my Tatay’s words, I told my­self to study hard so that some­day and we have a more com­fort­able life,” he ex­plained.

The Ilonggo Hon­to­ria had al­ready com­pleted his bach­e­lor’s de­gree and was al­ready a reg­is­tered nurse when he de­cided to en­ter the coun­try’s pre­mier mil­i­tary school.

“When I grad­u­ated from col­lege and even­tu­ally ac­quired my pro­fes­sional li­cense as a nurse, I was not able to feel that cer­tain con­tent­ment in life. It was as if some­thing was lack­ing,” the vale­dic­to­rian ex­plained.

“Then one day the op­por­tu­nity of tak­ing the PMA en­trance exam came knock­ing at my door the next thing I know I passed the exam. I was both hes­i­tant and ex­cited,” he beamed. “I left home with the thought that life would never be the same again.”

Hon­to­ria ad­mits that life in the Philip­pine Mil­i­tary Academy was not easy, but he per­se­vered and pushed through none­the­less.

“We were pushed be­yond our phys­i­cal, men­tal, and psy­cho­log­i­cal lim­its ,” he re­lated. “It is a life of or­ders and fol­low­er­ship. A life of end­less lim­i­ta­tions and re­stric­tions. A life of dis­ci­pline.”

“But [in the PMA] we learned to face fail­ures, frus­tra­tions and dis­ap­point­ments that crushed us

down. We even­tu­ally learned to stand up with the lessons learned held in our hands. [We stand up proudly] be­cause we [know we] have sur­ren­dered our free­dom, our rights, our priv­i­leges, and the com­forts of our care-free civil­ian lives in ex­change for serv­ing God, the coun­try, and our peo­ple.”

Dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion rites held on March 18, Hon­to­ria re­ceived eleven awards, in­clud­ing the Pres­i­den­tial Saber, Chief of Staff Saber, Philip­pine Navy Saber, Aca­demic Group Award, Aus­tralian De­fense Best Over­all Per­for­mance Award, Span­ish Armed Forces Awards, Hu­man­i­ties Plaque, Nat­u­ral Sciences Plaque, So­cial Sciences Palque, Jus­mag Award, and De­part­ment of Lead­er­ship Plaque.

“To my batch mate sin Bal­abag El­e­men­tary School in Pavia, Cole­gio de San Jose, West Visayas State Univer­sity, and all Ilong­gos, I share my suc­cess with all of you,” Hon­to­ria said dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony led by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte at Fort del Pi­lar in Baguio City.

But most of all Hon­to­ria of­fers his suc­cess to his fam­ily,

es­pe­cially his beloved mother and father who have sac­ri­ficed so much for him.

“To my fam­ily, thank you for the end­ing sup­port. You have al­ways been my source of en­cour­age­ment,” he said. “Parati ko pina­panalan­gin na du­mat­ing ang araw na kaya ko nang agawin ang mabi­gat niny­ong buhat na re­spon­si­bil­i­dad sa pag­pa­palaki nyu sa amin. Ma, Pa, tama na po, kami na­man po, ako na­man po.”

Cap­ping off his Vale­dic­tory speech, Hon tori a of­fered a chal­lenge and some en­cour­age­ment to his fel­low “Alab- Tala” Class of 2018: “It was in­deed a long and dif­fi­cult jour­ney. We have made many sac­ri­fices for us to reach this point, but things are yet to start as the whole Philip­pine na­tion awaits our self­less ser­vice. 282 strong mem­bers of the Alab-Tala Class of 2018, we can now all to­gether say to the chal­lenges that await us: Bring it on!”

De­spite all his suc­cess and all the ac­co­lades he has re­ceived, Hon­to­ria hopes to re­main hum­ble and con­tinue to re­mem­ber his roots.

“I hope that some­day I could go back to our farm – the place where ev­ery­thing started – know­ing that I have given my best for my coun­try and the peo­ple,” he con­cluded./

PCOO

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte hands the Pres­i­den­tial Saber Award to Jay­war­dene Hon­to­ria dur­ing the grad­u­a­tion rites at the Philip­pine Mil­i­tary Academy's Bor­romeo Field on March 18.

Cadet First Class Jay­war­dene Hon­to­ria re­ceives a plaque of recog­ni­tion from Pavia mayor Michael Gor­ric­eta for mak­ing his fel­low Pa­vian­hons proud.

Hon­to­ria

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