(From left to right) C/LTC SANTOS 1Cl, C/CPT VERZOSA 2Cl, C/CPT RENTUAYA 2Cl, and C/MAJ SANDICO 1Cl


Honestly, I think women are underrated. Throughout history, be it in the Philippines or other parts of the world, women’s roles in society were limited to housework and the upbringing of children since men were meant to be the family’s breadwinners. While the formation of the younger generations is just as important as providing for the family, its importance seems to be downplayed and taken for granted. It was only in the 1930s when Philippine women gained the right to vote, and thankfully our opportunities as women have progressively gotten better. Women have achieved more prominent roles in society, have relatively equal footing with men, and are overall more empowered. Still, closing the gender gaps and biases is something society has to work on, like the military and ROTC being seen as a man’s territory.

Some people get surprised when they find out I am part of the Ateneo Corps of Cadet Officers (ACCO). In fairness, my physical structure is small and I usually come off as timid and soft-spoken, so it does not surprise me that a cadet officer is not the first thing people would think I am. But I always find it amusing to see their shocked reactions and take pride in their sudden interest in ROTC and my training as a cadet. It’s quite an attention grabber and topic of conversation at dinners. When I first entered the Cadet Officer Candidate Course (COCC), we were twenty-two, and only four were female. Only eight of us graduated, six males and two females. The fact that only two females graduated surprises people. I was asked how we were able to keep up with the intense physical training, and I told them that anyone can get through it with determination. Your body and gender are not a limitation, and the belief others have in you keeps you going. Yes, it was tough, but we made it.

Though the current ACCO is still predominantly male, I do not feel repressed or pushed aside for being a woman. I get to contribute to the Corps as much as my male counterparts do, and I love the support we all give each other equally. We acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses because these are normal and not something to use as leverage. There is no shame in asking for help or assistance. We are respected individuals who value each other, and all of us are constantly growing and learning as we go through our journey. I feel empowered in the Corps, not because of my rank, designations, or uniform, but because I am heard. I am seen for who I am and accepted wholeheartedly. Unlike what others may think, ROTC and the military setting do not have to be a male-dominated field. There is a place for everyone, and being female should not hinder you from pursuing your interests and trying out new things. In this aspect, I hope to see our society grow to be more open and accepting, where we all stand equal and supportive of one another. Happy Women’s Month!


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