PMA Class of 1989 moves forward | Inquirer Opinion
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Reveille

PMA Class of 1989 moves forward

/ 04:05 AM December 13, 2021

On a Wednesday morning in January 1987, just as they were marching off for lunch at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) mess hall, Cadet Third Class Connor Anthony Canlas and Cadet Fourth Class Oscar Canlas Jr. were pulled out from formation and ordered to report to the Superintendent’s Office immediately. The Superintendent was Brig. Gen. Rodolfo Biazon. At his office, the Canlas boys were provided with army field phones and put in touch with their father, Col. Oscar Canlas. Canlas was the leader of some 300 rebel soldiers who had taken over GMA Network’s television station. First, he spoke to his older son, Anthony, and then to Oscar Jr. He told both of them to concentrate on their studies, to always do their best, and not be distracted by events that were taking place. He assured them that he knew what he was doing and that he was being true to his beliefs, fighting a possible communist takeover with the release of captured New People’s Army leaders, and the presence of left-wing politicians in the Cabinet. Shortly after, Colonel Canlas surrendered to Gen. Fidel Ramos and was placed under detention from 1987 to 1992.

Cadet Connor Anthony Canlas graduated No. 5 in his class in 1989, receiving the Philippine Constabulary Award as the highest-ranking member to join the PC. His father, who was then in prison, was allowed a few days of freedom to attend graduation rites incognito. While Lieutenant Canlas joined the Constabulary, his heart was with the Air Force, wishing to follow in his father’s footsteps, and in 1992, when the Constabulary became the Philippine National Police, he opted to change his branch of service and joined the Air Force.

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In May 1993, First Lieutenant Canlas won his military aviation wings at the Philippine Air Force Flying School. In ceremonies presided over by President Fidel V. Ramos, his father’s nemesis, Canlas was awarded the Presidential Saber for finishing No. 1 in his class, the McMicking Award for best flying performance, and the 100th Training Wing Flying Excellence Medal for the highest ratings in the S-211 trainer jet. This time, father was able to share his pride and joy in the achievements of a son. Last Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas was appointed commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, the 38th in a long line of distinguished predecessors. He takes over from Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes. As he assumed command, he remembered what his father would often tell him: The blessings in life do not always come on a silver platter. They are the product of hard work and perseverance. Next Monday, Canlas marks his 55th birthday. Incidentally, his younger brother, Oscar Canlas Jr., is presently a naval officer with the rank of captain.

Also last week, Maj. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Class of 1989, was appointed commanding general, Philippine Army. He graduated No. 2 in his PMA class and served as first captain of the Cadet Corps in his senior year. As I wrote in an earlier column, Gen. Romeo “Omet” Brawner Jr. comes from a distinguished family of warriors. His father was a presiding justice of the Court of Appeals, four of his uncles served in the military, and two first cousins paid the supreme sacrifice in the service of country. The Brawners are descended from one of the “Buffalo Soldiers” (African-American enlisted men in the US Army), who came to the Philippines as part of the US invasion force during the Philippine-American War. He fell in love with a local girl and stayed on.

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So here we have two classmates. One is the son of a rebel officer; the other is the son of an appellate justice. What they have in common is an education at the military academy and a strong desire to excel in their chosen profession. Today they occupy the highest positions in their respective services.

Our security forces are now headed by members of Class of 1988 and of 1989. The AFP chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Andres Centino, the Navy chief, Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado, the chief PNP, Gen. Dionardo Carlos, and the commandant of the Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Leopoldo Larroya, all belong to the 1988 batch. The Philippine Army and Air Force are headed by Class of 1989. This looks like the national security line-up as we approach the critical 2022 presidential derby. The conduct and performance of these officers will be a vital factor in maintaining and upholding the integrity of our elections.

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TAGS: PMA Class of 1989, PMA graduates in civilian government posts, Ramon J. Farolan, Reveille
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