AN officer and a gentleman.

That’s what PMAyers or “mistahs” are supposed to be.

And that’s what they were, when they graduated from the Philippine Military Academy, the equivalent of the famed West Point of the United States Military Academy.

Spic and span in their new uniforms, they joined the four major branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines: the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Police (ex-Constabulary).

Swiftly, they rose through the ranks, from lieutenants, to captains, to majors, to colonels, to generals, ultimately, to chiefs of staff of the AFP, and upon retirement, to defense secretaries.

But what is not constant is the idealism that was hammered in them during their academy days.

Some of them fell by the wayside, disgracing their revered alma mater.

We recoil with contempt for the so-called Euro Generals, former PMA alumni, who furtively turned huge amounts of pesos into Russian ruble for their personal expenses during a junket to Moscow, ostensibly to attend a law enforcement confab in the former USSR capital.

There were a number of generals linked to various scandals, from kidnapping to extortion or protection racket, all former cadets at Fort del Pilar, the PMA breeding ground in Baguio City.

There was a two-star general, also a “mistah,” who was convicted of amassing a fortune as the corrupt AFP comptroller.

He spent time in jail.

But there were “mistahs” who made good in civilian life, especially in politics.

Today, in the Senate, we have Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, who won fame as head of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement or RAM, and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who ran while in jail for his role in an unsuccessful military coup.

Another alumnus was former Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, an ally of President Noynoy Aquino, who now wears the hat as rehab czar in typhoon-ravaged Leyte and Samar.

There was also former Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, former AFP chief of staff who headed the Philippine Marines during the EDSA people power revolution.

He is now Muntinlupa representative.

The PMA is again in the news.

A senior cadet, Aldrin Jeff Cudia, was sacked for violating the academy’s Honor Code.

He allegedly lied why he was late two minutes for class.

Why he was late will remain a speculation.

Was he on a date or on a lark?

On a personal note, we have a liking for the PMA.

This writer, then president of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines, was adopted “cavalier” of PMA Class ’56, sponsored by the late Col. Jaime Venago, who worked in Malacañang as special assistant to former Executive Secretary Rafael M. Salas.

We wore with pride an ill-fitting class ring given to us by “cavalier” Jimmy Venago — until it slipped away unnoticed from our finger.

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