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Friday, September 23, 2011

My PMA Cadet Years (Fourth Class) - Beast Barracks (2nd Plebe Detail)

Continuing with my PMA memoirs... It’s the second plebe detail and the Army group was handling us... we were expecting for the worst... and more rigid training... since this is what we were told... 

April 30, 1995 – It’s Sunday, we went to church and had a quiet time with Yahweh... really had a hard time fighting such dozing-prone moments... maybe because those strenuous activities we had, with adrenaline levels started to drop, left us off guard and weariness had catch-up... thanks to our squad mates, we kept looking after each other to avoid bad endorsement.

And then back to barracks with our normal routine... road run then “masi-masi”...

“Masi-masi or mess to mess” is from the word mess (obviously).  Mess is what we termed our meal breaks (morning, noon and evening mess).  Literally, it means  series of exercises performed starting at the end of a meal break and ends before another meal break starts... but this didn't happened much... luckily, we also had other duties to be busy with. (lol)

Obstacle Course and Film Viewing.  Was it just a coincidence that we were having our rotting obstacle course on Labor Day  and it was raining... The obstacle course is a series of task where you need to balance yourself on cross elevated logs; crawl under barbwires, into concrete culverts and elevated bars; climb up and down in ropes; go over logs; jump, bounce, leap were just a few to mention... and the best part was... there’s a time limit and exceeding beyond it would mean repetition and a low score.

Then, we had a chance to see a part of the documentation done by the ladies from De La Salle University for their thesis on PMA women cadets.  We finally saw what transpired during our reception day from other’s perspective... it was unlikely fun to watch since it was the day we didn’t want to happened again... haha...

Bogged Down.  It was May 2, 1995, we had our squad run.  It was just like any other run in our normal route and distance but with a little twist... we ran by squad, in our camouflage uniform with all the accessories and full backpack.  Just a couple of meters away from the finish line, I started catching my breath and then my feet gave in... I was carried by my squad mates to the finish line and then rushed to PMASH (our station hospital).  No findings though... maybe it’s just fatigue or the extra baggage or simply, just lost the correct timing of my breathing (lol)... I don’t know...  it was new to me... never bogged down in running before.

I was “sick in quarters” (SIQ) for 24 hours... quite enjoyed the early mess and being excused from a couple of activities.  This was the first time I heard the mess hall from afar... If you’re an outsider, you would definitely not think it’s a place where cadets eat their meal... hahaha.

Rope Course and Stamina.  The following days were about learning how to cross different rope bridges (single, double and triple rope bridge)... and several revelry road runs in preparation for our second “foot march” to Camp 6.

May 6
No Saturday Inspection... we're having our foot march and our destination was Camp 6 (about 11 kilometers from PMA).  It was much tougher than the first foot march since we travelled on rugged terrains and passed along cliffs.  We took an alternative route on our way back... Cannon Road.  It was all concrete and asphalt roads going up... and took our rest upon reaching Luwakan airport.  Then we continued until we heard the band... and we marched “head-up and chin-in” ‘til our final halt in the Borromeo field.

Marksmanship and Rappelling.  I really enjoyed both courses... For the marksmanship training, we were asked to shoot the M-16 automatic rifle in different positions and in single shots and rapid firing... hit some bull’s eye (don’t ask where the other bullets went, I don’t know either... hehe)
And for the rappelling, we started at a few feet structure (the tree house) and then on top of a 4 storey building (Florendo Hall).  It was quite hard looking down and thinking I’m going to fall, but I had my confidence from the sergeants with their years of experience on this... come to think of it... I was attached to the rope and doing it according to instructions... and more importantly, I just prayed... what could possibly go wrong?  Most challenging... “the lizard” or head first rappel... it’s an awesome experience.

May 14.  Our Lord’s Day and it was Mother’s day.  Why is it that if you are having a hard time with your life, you always think and wish for your mom and not anyone else... my children does that all the time... haha.

Record Firing, Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and Obstacle Course.  A hectic week... and more, it was raining most of the time.  It had made the tests a lot difficult, especially the obstacle course.  I’m a marksman in record firing (that means average)... I missed a lot in the standing position; I’m blaming it to the rain and fog covering my sight (lol).
The PFT is composed of the following tests: push-up, sit-up, pull-up, trunk forward flexion, standing long jump and 3.2 km run.  I passed all the standards or minimum requirement for the tests.  My record for the run was 12’50”... and I can’t beat that anymore...
And for the obstacle course, I really wasn’t expecting but I did a pretty good job here.  I finished 9th with a time of 11’19” (27’19” less 16’)... that’s good enough for me. (Please don’t ask me about the computation, go ask PMA... but just a wild guess, the 16 minutes buffer was for the mud in our boots and the wet obstacle course... hehe)

Swimming, Boodles and Uniforms.  The week also had its fun and surprises.  We had our swimming lesson where we were asked to jump from an elevated board to a pool which I guess was10-12 feet deep.  It was fun, especially if you’re not afraid of heights and already knew how to swim...
The boodles were also distributed for our final foot march.  It was a treat for us back then.  Plebes were unauthorized to go to public places and establishments during the summer camp even if it was inside PMA.  We were confined and restricted to barracks and always accompanied by an upperclassman or an officer during outdoor activities... Anyway, we had no money to offer... unless the store wanted to trade... socks for boodles, anyone (lol)
We were also already issued with some of the corps uniforms; the dress coat and the corps jacket.  It was a big deal, especially to a plebe that I was then.  This meant that I was near to surviving the beast barracks and incorporation was just days ahead.

May 19-20.  Our third and final foot march for the summer camp and our destination... the radars at Mt. Kabuyaw.  We had an early mess that day (0430H) and jumped off at 0600H.  We brought our shelter halves (yes ½, one needs to have a partner to complete 1 tent) since we spent an overnight in the camp site.  Actually, it should had been termed as “foot march climbing a foggy mountain” since it’s all up and for just a few meters you could no longer see the person in front of you... more, we were all wet with sweat and rain... hehe.
We enjoyed the night being loose even for a while... no heading-up and chinning-in... and no shouting.  No bias with the other group, but I guess the Army group wasn’t what they were telling us to be.  They were more of the “people” person.  Still strict during training but they mingled well with their people than the other group. Maybe that’s just the “army way”...  And since it was raining the whole night with our poncho on, a squad mate and I played a little trick to a group of “mistah” from the other company... pretending to be upperclassmen (acting “cool na cool”), they actually became uneasy with our presence... we asked them to stay at ease... and we returned to our platoon.  Haha... lucky for us we were not caught by their yearlings or squad leader.  Coz if we were... we’re deadly endorsed.

The following day, it was still rainy when we returned to the academy.  Our officers were just glad no one bogged down in our company considered we traveled 15 kilometers to reach PMA... though cadets maybe tough still there were those who had been feverish after the event... we’re no steel, after all.

Incorporation Day Preparations.  Final examinations, drills, road runs, cleaning... and lots and lots of cleaning composed the last week of May.  We were all busy preparing for a very important event... the Incorporation Day.  We had road runs with our M-14 so we would be used to its weight... we will be using it from then on in our parade and review.  Our lacking items and uniforms were already issued.  Closing and summing up our military subjects with their final examinations.  And drills, drills and drills for the incorporation parade... it was actually one way to show the corps that we deserved to be a part of it... we all crossed our fingers and hoped for the best...
And best part was, we will again see our family, after 2 long months... just 2 months, but why did it feel like a year?  But no matter what, I still thanked the Lord, I survived the beast barracks...

To Yahweh be the glory...

Previous Related Post: Beast Barracks (1st Plebe Detail)

Next Related Post: Incorporation Alfa Coy


  1. Sounds like they really put you through the paces. One of those survive, or die trying. Thanks for the glimpse. It was very enlightening!


  2. Whoa. Never thought that there's a PMAer Blogger. I really liked the article Sir. Parang ang hirap po nung "The Lizard".

  3. Nice blog, mistah. You should have been the class historian instead of me. May I ask bok, who art thou?

  4. Bok, nagkita ba tayo sa club room ng Corps Board? Kung hindi, shabby ka, bakit hindi ka nag join. lol... kindly message me at my fb bok. Cecil Bernabe

  5. I am actually very thankful for these insights about the life inside PMA sir. For a while I have been pondering whether i should continue to PMA or enter college instead and follow what my parents decided for me to take. But it is in my heart and mind to really be one of the men to -not to sound a bit cliche- but to truly serve for the country. though the fact that i know no one with such experiences in PMA to talk to or ask advice makes me linger on this fear of failing and getting rejected. Thus when i came about this blog it lessen a few of my worries, tho not all but still very helpful than having no source of information at all.
    I actually wanted to ask about that part wherein they let you swim in the pool; I know that it sounds a bit petty but i have a fear in drowning and i really can't swim that well. the fact that the pool is 12 ft deep really makes my skin crawl from the chills and i wanted to ask you sir whether that 'lesson' you had with the other 'plebes' was like a class wherein everybody is required to swim in order to 'pass' or have a score of some sort or was it more of if-you-want-to-swim-or-not-it's-up-to-you kind of deal?
    i would really appreciate sir, for a few of your advice/answer/words on this matter and would be eternally grateful to you.
    I am already grateful for this information you have shared with us, but, i hope and ask for just a bit of your time and your experiences to share sir.

    1. I hope my reply isn't that late. So sorry, it's been a while since I visited my blog. Okay, about your question, yes, there is a deep part in the pool but there is also a shallow part. So, don't worry, the instructor won't let you swim the deep part immediately and put your life at risk. But, definitely, you need to learn how to swim. And everything inside is not up-to-you kind of deal. Glad I helped in any way. Yahweh bless.

  6. Thank you for all the info!! I'm really scared to gone but I'm determined. If I could ask what can we have to bring? (Civilian clothes family pictures school supplies) I'm clueless

    1. Well, everything you need to know will be provided by PMA representatives. What to bring? Just yourself. Good luck and God bless.