04 February 2017

The Travails ROTC Brought


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Then there was ROTC. I took high school’s PMT all in good humor because the officers were mostly my classmates and most training days were at the very least tolerable. But ROTC brought my dislike for military training to a whole new level.

PMT training in Lipa was under the Air Force. At DLSU, ROTC was under the navy. In Lipa, the officers barked commands in Tagalog. In Taft, but naturally, the commands were in English. So, on my very first ROTC training day, incidentally a one to five o’clock torturous affair, after every command given by that ape posing as an officer, I had to glance sideways to check what the others in my platoon were doing.

Then the ape noticed that I was always a fraction late executing his commands and made me do twenty pushups. When I tried to explain why I was late, he became livid that I spoke without being asked to do so and made me do another twenty. How in the world was that fair? It never even occurred to the ape that most of the time, I didn’t even know what in God’s name he was shouting at all of us. Just about the only command that I recognized was “Attention!”

If I thought PMT was an utter waste of time, ROTC was not only an utter waste of time twice over but also ruinous to the complexion. Wink! There was this one afternoon when all we did from one to five was stand, be shouted at and execute a cacophony of pointless commands. When I got home, I was shocked when I looked in the mirror to see just the left side of my face angry red with sunburn. The right side was perfectly normal. We were positioned at the southern side of the football field facing the north for most of the four hours of the training; and this meant that all of us that side of the field had the sun blazing down only on the left side of our faces. I looked like a freak until the next week.

Anybody who thinks I can be convinced that ROTC is worth reviving is welcome to try. All my experiences of it were totally forgettable. Instead of being able to go home weekends, I had to stay in Manila for almost the entire semester because ROTC was held Saturday afternoons. There didn’t seem any point in making the three-hour trip back to Lipa just to be able to spend one day.

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