15 July 2017

As the dawn creeps onto the first morning lights, the bugle and the bell ringing in the barracks create a buzz as everyone hears the sound of splashing water indicating the early baths, stamping of feet at the busy hallway, frenzied guards giving instructions and the like. After a minute or two, you find yourself among the throng in a pre-determined formation - you are in a fixed posture, hands at the back, chest bracing up and eyes looking forward. You are not allowed to move either to hiss.

For more than nine months, I have lived this routine waking even earlier than reveille in the daily morning rush of our training.

Hard. Difficult. Demanding. Rigid. Challenging. These are the words that describe the rugged road I took in the four walls of the Philippine Air Force Officer Candidate School (PAFOCS) just to survive. The arduous beginning, which nearly put me in the brink of surrendering, serves as a reckoning moment that inspired me to do more in the remaining months of this significant stage of my life.

By the time the sun gleams its lights, the Air Education, Training and Doctrine Command is already fully awake. Morning exercises and road runs decorate the quadrangles and road networks of the Command as soldiers need to be physically fit. You hear the chants of motivated soldiers that demonstrate their dedication to duty and love for their country. You witness strong men and women who find their way to the education and training center of the PAF to equip themselves with knowledge and skills. These are the soldiers who do not just carry their ranks on their shoulders but men who effectively fulfill their duties. They are the image of soldiers who embody the characteristics of living heroes who are not afraid to die for the country and who quickly respond to the call of nation-building.

As I aspire and persevere, I likened myself to a clay that is slowly molded to become one of the gallant and competent leaders of the PAF who embodies the values of integrity, service above self, teamwork, excellence, and professionalism. Yet, it requires great sacrifices - sometimes having to choose between your comfort and discomfort.

True to its commitment to mold the future leaders of the PAF, the PAFOCS did not fail to transform me from that once feeble civilian to an individual with the highest form of discipline.

Indeed, the early phase of the training was a complete struggle.

Confused. Quitting. Disoriented. Weak. Despite the hardship, there was a metamorphosis which slowly taught me to let go of the old habits and embrace the values of military life.

Being an officer in the making, I really have to succumb to the changes that will help me transform to becoming a future leader with enough knowledge, skills, attitude, and character. Soon, I will wake up not as a trainee anymore but as an officer and a leader ready to take on the challenge of building the nation.

Courtesy of Officer Candidate Visaya of PAFOCS