PNPA valedictorian: From nurse to firefighter

CAVITE, Philippines – He once dreamed of being a doctor or working as a nurse abroad but fate, it turned out, had different plans for him. 

Felipe Alicando Jr., valedictorian of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) Class of 2016, had already finished a degree in nursing and even passed the nursing licensure exam in 2012 when he began entertaining the idea of joining public service. 

The Dulag, Leyte native said it was his brother, a member of the PNPA class of 2012, who persuaded him to join the police academy in Silang, Cavite. Serving the country was a noble calling, said his brother, and besides, the academy meant 4 years of free education, monthy allowances, and the chance to be a commissioned officer. 

Alicando is one of 253 members of the “Masundaway” class, who will soon join the ranks of commissioned officers in the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). 

The class valedictorian is one of 15 who will be joining the BFP. “Di lang pulis ang nangangailangan ng officer (It’s not just the police force that needs officers),” said Alicando when asked why he chose to be an officer in the fire bureau. 

The 24-year-old son of two retired teachers says he doesn’t have an assignment yet. A “dream assignment,” the newly-installed fire inspector said, is where the country needs him the most. 

The class of 2016 graduated 2 months before the presidential elections, a fact President Benigno Aquino III emphasized in his last speech as president before the academy. 

Alam naman po natin, sa Mayo, halalan na naman. Para sa unipormadong hanay, panahon ito ng iba’t ibang tukso….Kung pinapili kayo: bayan o sarili, alin ang uunahin ninyo (In May, we’ll hold another election. For those in the uniformed service, it will be a time for different forms of temptation. If they made you pick: country or self, which would you put first)?,” said the President. 

Alicando, who spoke before the President, seemingly answered the question even before it was asked.  “Ang tunay na pagsubok sa ating karakter bilang mga pinuno ay nakasalalay sa ating pasisikap na pagtibayin, isabuhay, at ipaglaban ang tama at ang katotohanan sa mga panahon ng suliranin at pagsubok,” he said. 

(The real test of our character as leaders lies in our efforts to strengthen, live, and fighter for what’s right in the toughest of times.) 

Sa mga sitwasyong kinakailangan nating mamili sa panig ng tama at katotohanan laban sa pansariling seguridad, karangyaan sa buhay at personal na kasiyahan, ating tatandaan na ang taong marangal ay hindi nagdadalawang isip at parating pinipili ang panig ng tama,” he added. 

(In situations when we need to choose between what’s right and personal interest, an easy life, or personal happiness, remember that a rightful person does not think twice and always chooses what’s right.) 

Not all of Alicando’s classmates were able to celebrate on Thursday. Originally a class of 350, only 258 made the preliminary cut. Another 5 were barred from joining Thursday’s graduation exercises because of possible Honor Code violations. 

The “Honor Code” states that cadets do not lie, cheat, or steal or allow fellow cadets to do so. 

Chief Inspect Richie Yatar, spokesman of the PNPA, refused to divulge which specific part of the Honor Code was violated by the 5 cadets, since an investigation is still pending. –