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PMA Pioneer Class of 1940

25 February 2014

PMA Pioneer Class of 1940 as plebes in their drill uniforms.

As the dismissal of a dishonored salutatorian-to-be continue to keep netizens keyboards clicking, I prefer to think of a simpler time when soldiers embraced the honor code more tightly.

The National Defense Act created after the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth, gave way to the establishment of an all-new Philippine Military Academy. After a nationwide call for PMA recruits, about 10,000 young men responded. Only 120 reported as plebes to the PMA at Teachers Camp, Baguio City on 15 June 1936 — and only 79 made it to graduation. The Class of 1940 wrote the Honor Code, renamed the school publication to “Corps”, composed “PMA, Oh! Hail To Thee”, and launched the “Peemay Slingo”. In the history of the Academy, only two cadets hold the distinction of being distinguished cadets (“Starmen”) from Fourth-Class to First-Class year — Licurgo E. Estrada and Washington M. Sagun, Valedictorian and salutatorian of Class 1940, respectively. They graduated on 15 March 1940 and went to war nineteen months later.

Meet the young men of the Pioneer Class of 1940 and see how they lived lives true to the academy’s motto of courage, integrity and loyalty. Click on their names to visit their family trees.

Col. Alberto K. Acenas, PAF was born on 15 June 1917 in Alaminos, Pangasinan. Bert is remembered as one of the finest wrestlers of PMA. He joined the PAAC and was assigned with the 9th Obsn Sqdn in Lahug, Cebu, where WWII found him. He prepared the landing fields in Cebu to handle B-17’s until the fall of Bataan. He married Emma Sison and they lived in Quezon City. After the war, he served with the Philippine Air Force and was Commandant of the AFOS before he retired. After his retirement in 1966, Bert was connected to the Philippines Rice and Corn Administration, San Sebastian College, Club Filipino and the Villamor Air Base Restaurant. He died on 28 May 2008 at age 91 in Orlando Florida, USA.

Col. Manuel A. Acosta, PA was born on 17 December 1916 in Laoag, Iloco Norte. Youngest of the Acosta Brothers Act (Flor ’37, Melchior ’40), Maning was quiet, unassuming but big-hearted. After graduation, he joined the FA where WW II found him as Btry Comdr, 301st FA. He served in Bataan with distinction. When Japanese planes strafed his position on Jan. 16,1942, Maning was seriously injured that his left arm had to be amputated at a Field Hospital, where he languished until the fall of Bataan. Taken POW, he joined the Death March and was interned in Capas. After his release as POW, he managed to rehabilitate himself and worked as a Social Worker at the Bureau of Public Welfare. On 31 July 1943, Maning married his sweetheart, Rosita S Henson of Pampanga. They lived in the affluent Greenhills Village in San Juan, Metro Manila. After the war, he studied at the Advance QuarterMasters Course in Fort Lee, VA. He held various positions within the Philippine Army. He was as Army QM Gen, Head-Phil Procurement Mission to Japan, and PMLO-Sangley Point. He served as Executive Director of the National Shrines Commission from 1972 to 1983. The Shrines in Bataan, Coregidor and Capas were started during Maning’s incumbency.

Col. Melchior A. Acosta, PA was born on 06 January 1915 in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. A combined law and business student before entering PMA, his opinion was invariably sought for and esteemed by his classmates. Mel was also the flyweight boxing champion of PMA in 1936-37. After graduation, he attended the Infantry School at Camp Murphy. Afterwards, he was assigened to the UP ROTC, Los Baños. On 19 July 1941, he married Lourdes Isla and five months later, Mel was fighting the enemy in Bataan. He was taken POW, joined the Death March and was incarcerated in Capas. After his release as a sick POW, he joined the USAFIPNL guerillas where he won a Gold Cross Medal for gallantry in action. After the war, he was sent to the Infantry School in Ft. Benning, GA. He served in various positions of responsibility in the new PA. In 1966, Mel joined the private sector to become a successful insurance underwriter. He died on 9 Jan 1983, three days after his 68th birthday.

Cmdre. Haracleo J. Alano, PN was born on 23 October 1915 in Laoay, Bohol.  After graduation, Mike  joined the Off-Shore Patrol (OSP) nucleus of the Navy and was the ExO of Q-111, lst Q-Boat Sqn when WW II started. He won a silver star for gallantry against enemy dive bombers near Corregidor on 17 January 1942.  When Bataan fell his Q-Boat was sunk by the Japanese planes and a destroyer. He  managed to swim ashore at Batangas where he made good his escape to Bohol and joined the Inginiero guerilla forces. Among his guerilla subordinates was one Carlos P. Garcia who later became Philippine President after Magsaysay died in a plane crash. Pres. Garcia appointed him to be FOIC, PN. He had this post during the Marcos regime.  After the war, Mike rejoined the OSP and helped pioneer a new and bigger Navy. He was one of the last members of the class to get married in 1955 to Dolly, a lady from Dipolog. He assumed various positions of responsibility in the AFP that culminated in his being FOIC, PN.  He died on 22 March 1983 after a second heart attack at age 68.  A Naval coastal patrol boat and the Naval Base Cavite have been named in his honor.

Cmdre Ramon A. Alcaraz, PN was born on 31 August 1915 in Quingua, Bulacan. Monching was a writer for the PMA publication “Corps” and the bantam weight boxing champion in 1937 and 1938. After graduation, he became the Captain of Q-112 torpedo boat and saw gallant action during WW II under the direct command of MacArthur. He was awarded the Silver Star for shooting down 3 low flying Japanese planes off Bataan in 17 January 1942 and won a field promotion. After the fall of Bataan, he became a POW and was interned in Capas. After his release as POW, he joined the guerillas in Bulacan where he became a Regimental Commander. After the war, he rejoined the OSP and helped in building a new and bigger navy. He organized the Marines in 1950 on orders of the then defense secretary Magsaysay. He held various key positions and was promoted to Commodore, the highest navy rank in 1965. In 1966, Monching was relieved summarily as Fleet Commander.A controversy on the issue of honor was raised by Alcaraz. It escalated into a Congressional Investigation which cleared him of any wrong doing. After retirement, he and his pharmacist wife, Concepcion, whom he married in 1960 established a chain of drug stores they called Commodore Drug. When Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, Monching went to California where he became a successful realtor. He passed away on 29 June 2009 in the United States.

Col. Ricardo Y. Angeles, PC was born on 07 February 1919 in Manila. Ric was a good boxer and also excelled in basketball. After graduation, he joined the infantry and saw action in Bataan during WW II with courage and determination. After Bataan surrendered, he was taken POW. He was in the Death March and concentrated in Capas with his comrades. He survived the ordeal as POW and was released in August 1942 to recover from his ailments. After the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, he reported to military control and was assigned with MIT ROTC where he met Irene Gopez. They were married on 11 December 1948. Later, Ric was assigned with the newly reopened PMA, where he became the Professor in Military Engineering. As a member of the Corps of Professors at PMA, he was sent to Stanford University in California for his Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering. Upon his return to PMA, Ric was designated Head of the Engineering Department until his retirement on 15 June 1959. After his retirement, he accepted a full time engineering professorship at MIT, a post he held until he died on 8 December 1984 at age 65.

Cmdre. Felix M. Apolinario, PN was born on 2 May 1918 in Santa Cruz,  Manila.  Poling earned the monicker “verbatim” during his senior year, because of his studiousness.  After graduation, he joined the OSP, saw action in Bataan as ground support for the lst Q-Boat Sqdn and beach defense in Lamao. After  Bataan  fell, he became a POW, was interned in Capas and released as a sick POW in August 1942.  After the war he reported to military control and helped rebuild a new  OSP that later became the Philippine Navy. He held various positions that culminated in his becoming FOIC, PN in 1965, a post he held up to his retirement in  June 1966.  After retirement, Poling established a company dealing with marine electronics, life saving equipment, airplane parts, firefighting and audio equipment. Eleng  was also a devoted golfer and played the game as a hobby for many years.  He passed away in July 1999 at  age  81.

Col. Alfredo S. Filart married Paz L. Ubaldo, a granddaughter of Jose Rizal’s sister, Olimpia. Paz is the sister of Alfredo’s “mistah” Tomas Tirona.

Lt. Col. Tomas Carrasco Tirona, PAF was jailed at Fort Bonifacio during WWII. He wrote the book “The Philippine Anti-Communist Campaign” and designed the insignia of the Philippine Army Air Corps. He married Leonarda L. Ubaldo, a granddaughter of Jose Rizal’s sister, Olimpia. Leonarda is the sister of Tom’s “mistah” Alfredo S. Filart.


More profiles and family trees to come!  Pedro C. Aragon Jr. :: Alberto S. Aranzaso :: Delfin E. Argao :: Pedro C. Baban :: Uldarico S. Baclagon :: Pacifico B. Barrios :: Pedro J. Bartolome :: Sofio E. Bayron :: Pedro C. Bersola :: Reynaldo R. Bocalbos :: Abenir D. Bornales :: Deogracias F. Caballero :: Bartolome C. Cabangbang :: Urbano B. Caldoza :: Abraham C. Campo :: Felicisimo S. Castillo :: Florecio C. Causin :: Charles L. Corpuz :: Cipriano P. De Leon :: Francisco P. Del Castillo :: Ciceron P. Dela Cruz :: Pedro D. Dulay Jr. :: Lauro A. Ello :: Nolasco M. Escobar :: Jose S. Esguerra :: Licurgo E. Estrada :: Quirico B. Evangelista :: Horacio N. Farolan :: Felipe J. Fetalvero :: Ricardo A. Foronda :: Amos M. Francia :: Pedro B. Francisco :: Lucendro L. Galang :: Dominador M. Garcia :: Ramon C. Gelvezon :: Basilio T. Genson :: Vicente E. Gepte :: Daniel M. Iway :: Eulalio Q. Jamilosa :: Jose M. Javier :: Francisco M. Jimenez :: Romeo R. Lising :: Francisco E. Lumen :: Job T. Mayo :: Jose M. Mendoza :: Reynaldo A. Mendoza :: Gregorio P. Mercado :: Crisostomo M. Monta :: Cesar U. Montemayor :: Conrado E. Nano :: Edmundo G. Navarro :: Ramon Q. Nosce :: Aristoteles B. Olaybar :: Ramon A. Olbes :: Epimaco V. Orias :: Victor M. V :: Damian G. Pavon :: David A. Pelayo :: Antonio P. Perez :: Liberato R. Picar :: Salvador T. Piccio :: Mariano Q. Punsalang :: Jose A. Rodriguez :: Washington M. Sagun :: Marcelino M. Santos :: Faustino R. Sebastian :: Epifanio E. Segovia :: Eduardo P. Soliman :: Leon Ma. J. Trinidad :: Hospicio B. Tuazon :: Segundo P. Velasco :: Francisco B. Vitug :: Pedro M. Yap

Research Notes
* “Alberto K. Acenas”. U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011.
* Farolan, Ramon. “Ramon Alcaraz and National Defense”. PDI, 4 August 2013. Date accessed: 25 February 2014.
* “Funeral set for Commodore Alcaraz, former POW and pillar of veterans’ cause”. Philippine Defense Forces Forum, 6 May 2012. Date accessed: 25 February 2014.
* “Philippine Military Academy Class of 1940”. Date accessed: 24 February 2014.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jing Mcmli permalink
    18 November 2019 18:56

    Proud to be the daughter of one of The Pioneer Class ’40

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