I was a young and new high school teacher in the 70s when I got my regular appointment to teach in Tayabas, Quezon. I was idealistic, very strict and a faithful follower of the rules and ethics of the profession of which I embraced. I was a stranger in Tayabas, Manila, being my residence. I handled fourth year students andI was their World History teacher.
At that time YCAP was part of the high school curriculum. During their YCAP day, students brought with them bolos which they used in their community service. My World History class was scheduled immediately after the YCAP.
One morning when I was holding my class, three of my male students entered the classroom without their uniform but wearing only sandos. That for me was so discourteous of them. I instructed them to put on their polo shirts. Two of them readily obeyed as instructed. But the biggest boy just smiled. I told him twice in a very nice way to please observe propriety in the classroom. When he still ignored me, I already raised my voice and commanded him to get out of the room. He stood up. Went straight to me and swayed the bolo he had before my face as he passed by my table. I was shocked!
When I gained my composure, I went after him telling him to come back. He did not. I went to the Principal’s office and reported what happened. I filed a case against him since it was very clear that what he did was a clear attempt to attack a person of authority, I being his teacher.
The boy was graduating. The punishment for the offense he committed was expulsion. I was approached by many to reconsider my decision for the sake of the boy’s future. I refused.
I was harassed by his classmates who were sympathetic with him. They would throw stones in my classroom. I still continued with the case.
The Asst. Provincial Schools Superintendent in whose house I was residing talked to me one night and told me that the case I filed against my student would surely be decided in my favor. However, she said that in the event the student was expelled, his future was already ruined.
I thought about it that evening. The following morning I decided to drop the case to allow the student to graduate on the condition that he would just be given his high school diploma but he should not be allowed to march together with his classmates.
The boy graduated. Three years after, on my way to school from Lucena to Tayabas on board a mini bus, I got the biggest surprise of my life. When I was handing my fare to the conductor, the man in the seat in front of me looked at me and said, Wag na Ma’am, bayad na po”.
The man was in fatigue uniform. He was the student I almost did not allow to graduate. I looked at him in disbelief but I managed to ask him “Oh, Kumusta ka na?”
His reply: “Eto po Ma’am, sundalo na po. Maraming salamat po”.
Those two statements were loaded. I felt the meaning of those statements in my heart. I felt there was a lump in my throat as I looked at the young man before me in fatigue uniform.
When I reached the school, I went to a secluded area. I cried and thanked the Lord I changed my mind three years ago and allowed that student to graduate. Had I remained imprisoned by my anger and had him expelled, what could have happened to him? He could had gone to the mountain and joined the rebels or became someone with no direction in life.
He became a soldier and served our country.
Cadet Cudiat offense is minor compared to what he had and his parents invested to reach this far in his military training.
May I ask, how many PMA alumni have forgotten the Code of Honor after leaving the PMA? What is more important, that written Code or the future of an intelligent young man who could become a valiant defender of the nation in the future?
Must the members of the Honor Committee of the PMA give more important to their pride than the future of a brilliant man like Cadet Cudia?
I pray that their hearts be touched by the story of my student. I pray that they find it in their hearts to be more compassionate to this young man. They will not lose anything if they reconsider their decision. Instead, they will be gaining more not only in the eyes of their fellowmen but more so in the eyes of God.
I pray that Cadet Cudia, his parents and his very loving sister be not denied justice.
I hope that many join them in their search for justice.
I AM NOW A 66-YEAR OLD WOMAN. BUT DESPITE MY AGE, IF I NEED TO JOIN PROTESTS IN THE STREETS FOR THE SAKE OF JUSTICE AND THE FUTURE OF THIS YOUNG BRILLIANT MAN, THEN I WILL WITHOUT HESITATION BE AMONG THOSE GOING OUT IN THE STREETS TO SEEK JUSTICE FOR CADET CUDIA.