Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Nothing kicks up the proverbial storm than getting a bunch of “bogo-bogo” together in a room where they invariably slide to reminiscences of years spent at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

“Bogo-bogo” is how PMAers like to call themselves. They are flourishing in the Metro DC region where there are now about 50 active members of their alumni association, according to Harold Ochoco (Class 81), who hosted the get-together in his handsome home in Fairfax, Virginia.

Richard Gubatan (Class 92) drove 9 hours from Johnson City, Tennessee to see Vice Admiral Alexander Pama (Class 79) who stopped over in Washington DC on his way to an international symposium in Rhode Island.

His eyes bloodshot from fatigue, he was getting ready to make the long return trip after spending just 3 hours to party with old classmates.

They left their military careers for various reasons. Louie Maligat (Class 82) resigned as an army 1st Lieutenant after the 1986 People Power revolt and joined the US Navy as an enlisted man. He eventually won back that rank, rising to become a Lieutenant in the US Navy – proof perhaps that Filipinos can excel wherever they are.

“I left because although there was a change in administration, things were not going to change overnight,” he said. “I think I’ve been proven right in many instances and in some, things have gotten worse.”

Maligat retired early from the US Navy, joined the Census Bureau and is presently a management and program analyst with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Former Special Forces Maj. Gabriel de Dios (Class 81) has found his 2nd vocation in America. He swapped his Armalite with brush and palette, and is now one of the top Fil-Am artists in the area, his work featured in dozens of Washington DC exhibits.

Dan Jimenez (Class 77) left the Navy in disgust over the way former President Marcos manipulated the military. He’s still known in the Fil-Am community as an activist, organizing protests over a wide range of issues, from the perceived racial slur against Filipino doctors in an episode of the TV soap Desperate Housewives to the alleged corruption and excesses of then Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Max Oligani (Class 79) got a ribbing from his “mistahs” for bringing “inihaw na bangus” all the way from his home in Pennsylvania, a 3-hour drive away. The dish from Pennsylvania, his classmates teased, “tastes just like the bangus in Washington DC”.

Former Navy Capt. Jun Tucay (Class 65) was the most senior in the group and appeared immune from the good-natured mockery.

Ochoco left in 1986 after graduating with a computer science degree from the George Washington University. He now heads a section in the IT department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“I thought it was the right time to move into IT,” he averred but also confessed to occasional pangs of regret, seeing his classmates who are now senior commanders, some becoming generals.

“I’ve never been away from the PMA. My 1st love is still the military and it was my goal at the time to reach star rank but obviously I’ll never attain that but perhaps in terms of self-fulfillment, I think I’ve also succeeded in the career I eventually chose to pursue,” he argued.

Their numbers have gotten a boost from the police and military continent in the Philippine Embassy. Police attaché Arman Ramolete is part of Class 82, naval attaché Tony Habulan is Class 81 and air force attaché Arnel Duco is Class 86.

Some like Gubatan are already dreaming of the day when they can go back to the Philippines. He is eligible to start getting his pension in 5 years.

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