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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Mornings

Back in my Freshman year, my Sunday mornings were hellish for me, despite the usual connotation of blessedness of God's day. Because 30 Sunday mornings (most of which extended in the afternoon), were spent in ROTC classes at UP Clark.

I admit, I am not the athletic type. Sports nga di ako magaling, training pa kaya? Back in 4th year, I was saved from the more rigorous training for PMT because I was one of the Military Police. But hold your horses, haha! I became an MP not because I exhibited special strength or discipline or undergone training like the COCC cadets did, but because I paid my uniform during the 1st day of collection. Apparently, for the military person who supervised our PMT subject, money does the talking, haha!

I really dreaded ROTC training. In fact, it's the only thing that made me really anxious about going to college. It helped that during the Freshmen enlistment, I learned that I can sign up for Special Forces, the ROTC unit for UP Clark. So on Sundays, Diliman students from Pampanga and nearby provinces can report to a closer campus. That was even the year when the call for the abolishment of the ROTC was at its peak. So imagine the hopeful hatred in my heart that I had for ROTC. Haha!

Aside from the usual shallow reasons (like being under the sun, expensive gears), so why do I hate ROTC? Well, I know the purpose of ROTC. I know that we're supposed to be the 'reserve' unit just in case the Philippines courageously goes to war and our soldiers all die. I realize that my Motherland counts on me to protect her sovereignty whenever necessary and all that nationalistic jazz. But don't you think I can serve my country better with my personal talents and other abilities? I mean, I am good many things, but combat is definitely not one of them.

As if it couldn't be any more discouraging, our ROTC officers weren't necessarily the genuinely patriotic kind. They're more like bullies to me. And back then, I thought, "Putik! College na ako! Hanggang ngayon ba naman, may bully pa rin?!" One time during uniform inspection, this NCO officer (who was just my age) asked me if the way I was holding my inspection paraphernalia was the right way of doing so. Honestly clueless about what he wants me to do, I answered, "Sir, I have no idea, sir!" And then he hit me to my chest. It wasn't exactly lurching in pain after, but he obviously just wanted to show off his authority over me. So Angel Sembrano, nasaan ka man, madapaka ka! Haha!

Each Sunday morning, I felt like I was wasting my time. It was Freshman year, so I was taking up Math 17. And I am one of the (un)lucky ones to be mentored by Dr. Augusto Y. Hermosilla. I thought I'd rather catch up on my algebra and trigo skills (which would be very handy and practical considering I am an Engineering student) instead of doing push-ups and marching lousily under the sun til way past our supposed and promised dismissal time.

But of course, it's not like I can do anything about it. I am a batch too late for CWTS. Back in 4th Year high school, I was actually planning of taking up ROTC during my 2nd and 3rd year. I though back then, I would spend my 1st year adjusting to the semi-independent life first, you know, acquaint myself first with the university I would be going at. But I enlisted on freshman year anyway, because my other batchmates did so too. It's better to get ROTC over and done with, with my friends.

Having pronounced nothing but hatred for ROTC, I do have fond memories of it:
*There's always the casual kwentuhan with co-cadets before the start of formation and during the breaks. We were freshies, so our conversations usually involved our funny misadventures at Diliman.
*There was the 3x4 White Side Wall that we were required to have as our hairstyle. They check it every 3rd TD (Training Day). For the first ever checking, most of us didn't strictly follow the instruction, including me. So our abusive commander cut our hair randomly so that we would be forced to cut it the way he wants to -- higher than 3x4 even! He probably just wanted us to have a stupid hairstyle just like him. That was a Sunday, so after the training, I had to go again to the barbershop to 'repair' my hair. It would've let it go faster, if only my ID pictorial isn't the very Monday after. So for 4 years, the memories of that fateful haircut was imprinted in my ID, haha!
*Each training day was not only physically tiring for me, but also mentally and psychologically draining. It really stresses me out! So before I go home, I stop by Zagu for a refreshing pearl shake to recover. By the end of the year, I was able to taste all flavors, haha!
*My unit wasn't all that bad, actually. In reality, there was more goofing off time than actual training. That's why during TDs at Diliman at the end of each sem, we were the lousiest, haha! And I don't really mind.
*We were so lousy that I think our own commander was ashamed of us, haha! So during the ROTC Graduation Rites, instead of participating in the parade which would require impressive command of the fake wooden gun, we obliged to participate in the special exhibition instead. We were cast as the terrorists that the real soldiers would pretend to kill. I actually thought that was much much better than practicing for hours on end. Because all we had to do was run across the Sunken Garden with the fake wooden guns in tow, pretending to be these war-freak guerrillas. We pretended to fire for a few seconds, but we were supposed to be defeated so we just lied on our backs at the grass for the rest of the program.

Now, almost 6 years after, I'm just relieved that I'm thru with ROTC. In my 2nd year, CWTS was introduced and the 2-year requirement was reduced to 1 year. So just when I thought I would have to endure another year of ROTC, I was saved, haha! But, I wouldn't mind having those 30 Sunday mornings back! Mang Andres, sana mabasa mo to, haha!

This post was inspired by a similar post by Khadine! :) She has a different view of ROTC though, I think, haha!

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