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A splendid legacy

/ 05:43 AM November 26, 2018

In 1947 as part of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, a Philippine Enlistment Program (PEP) was established, allowing the US Navy to recruit a specific number of Filipinos each year for enlistment. Normally, the US Armed Forces took in only US citizens or permanent residents for enlisted service. But under the agreement, the US Navy was able to recruit Filipinos directly from the country of origin. There were two US Navy recruiting stations in the Philippines: Subic Naval Base in Zambales, and the Sangley Point Naval Air Station in Cavite. In 1952, the first year of implementation of the program, 1,000 Filipinos were taken in by the US Navy and over the years, in varying numbers, some 35,000 young Filipinos in search of better employment opportunities would join the US naval establishment.

Filipinos accepted by the US Navy would undergo indoctrination at the Recruit Training Command in San Diego, California. Upon completion of training they were utilized mainly as stewards, a Navy category that was largely composed of African-Americans, Filipinos and other Asian recruits. They operated the Navy mess and took care of officer quarters on board ships. Some were assigned to the White House and at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where they carried out similar duties. In 1971, the then chief of naval operations, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, implemented an important change in Navy policy. Instead of being restricted solely to steward class, Filipinos were allowed to enter other Navy ratings (positions) not requiring US citizenship.

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When the RP-US Military Bases Agreement was terminated by a vote of the Philippine Senate in September 1991, US military facilities closed down and all US forces were required to leave within one year. One casualty of the termination was the enlistment program, bringing to an end the recruitment of Filipinos by the US Navy.

In 1953, young high school graduate Glicerio Ralleca, from Paoay, Ilocos Norte, decided in the face of strong parental objections, to join the US Navy. He would be part of one of the earliest batches of Filipinos to join the Navy and given the restrictions placed on them, they bore the brunt of galley work amid the discriminatory practices of the Navy at that time. On a visit to the Philippines, Glicerio, “Ising” to family and friends, was introduced by his sister to a pretty schoolteacher, Felicidad “Fely” Tria, from Lubang Island, Occidental Mindoro. They were married and raised four children, inculcating in them time-honored virtues of love and abiding respect for their elders, a work ethic that placed a premium on achieving set objectives, and a constant striving for excellence in their undertakings.

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The eldest, Leslie, is a medical doctor with 23 years of practice in neonatology, a subspecialty of pediatrics dealing with the care of sick and premature newborns. She finished at the University of the Philippines, BS Biology, and medicine at the FEU Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation. Leslie took up her residency work at Loyola University Chicago, followed by a fellowship in neonatology, also at the same institute. She is currently a partner at the DuPage Neonatology Associates, servicing the Chicagoland area.

Their second child, Linda, finished at the University of the Philippines, BS Economics, and has an MBA from Stanford University. She is presently head of information and data sciences at the DuPont Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware. In January next year, she moves to Sunnyvale, California, to assume a new position as head, DuPont Silicon Valley Technology Center.

The third child, Glicerio Jr., graduated from Adamson University, BS Industrial Engineering, and holds an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Alabama, Huntsville. He is currently employed with the US Army Program Executive Offices for Missiles and Space at the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville.

The youngest, Glenn, finished BS Mechanical Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas. He is presently an entrepreneur heading his own company that provides servicing and maintenance of equipment in more than 30 hospitals, clinics, and dialysis centers in the Southern California area.

In 2013, Ising passed away after more than 20 years in the US Navy that included stints in the Vietnam War. Along the way, he picked up a degree in marine engineering that allowed for employment opportunities after retirement. Two weeks ago, it was Fely’s turn to leave. She was buried alongside her husband in
Antipolo City, Rizal.

On the subject of legacy, someone noted that it is not what we leave for others that counts. It is what we leave in them
that is most important. The splendid legacy of Glicerio and Fely Ralleca is best seen and appreciated in the lives of their four children, successful and respected professionals in a challenging world of constant change and competition.

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TAGS: Glicerio Ralleca, Ramon Farolan, Reveille, RP-US Military Bases Agreement, US Navy
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