The UP Field Artillery (FA) or the “Battery” as it is also known takes pride in being the only established unit of its kind among all other ROTC Units in the country. It has been the special unit of the Corps which made a distinction for UPROTC. Its inception can be traced back in the pre-war period and has withstood the test of times up to this day.
The Field Artillery Unit was established on October 26, 1929 with the issuance of the 75mm field guns. In 1935, a mounted battery unit was organized equipped with 2.95 inch guns. When World War II broke out in December 1941, members of the unit volunteered to man actual Artillery units to fight along side regular soldiers. They would become known as the “ROTC Battery.”
During the 1960’s, it had a Saluting Battery with four serviceable 105mm Howitzers. It was formally organized into the Firing Battery Company with C/Cpt Marcelo B Javier as the Battery Commander. The unit rendered Gun Salutes to honor dignitaries, state officials, and other important guests that visit the university. It would also fire volleys during Flag Raising and Retreat ceremonies to honor the country.
The 1970’s and the 1980’s saw glory days of the Battery. Competition between the Battalions of UPROTC became to heat up and it would never let be outdone. It would always aim to outdo the other units of the Corps in terms of military proficiency and drills and ceremonies. Composed majority of engineering students, it even bested PMA cadets in invitational Field Training Exercises for the conduct of Fire Missions. It proved to be better in terms of delivering accurate and timely fires to targets which earned it the mark of being the “Best in Map Reading”.
The 90’s proved to be difficult at a time when all the primary resources for training such as the rifles and mortars in the armory and the guns (artillery pieces) were recalled by the AFP after the 1986 EDSA revolution. While the other units continued training using only 2×2 lumbers as dummy rifles for training, FA did its part in making it possible the camp visits and on camp trainings with Artillery units of the Army to continue the legacy that it bears with pride.
Eventually, with the efforts of the UP Corps of Cadet Officers and UP DMST Personnel, the UP DMST regained back a fully functional armory to continue the realistic training and ensure high quality standards that it has been boasting of. It would not also be long until the big guns would return to their home ground; for what is a BATTERY without GUNS?
In 2001, under the leadership of COL Gilberto S Cayton FA (GSC) PA, the UP DMST Commandant who was also the concurrent Chief Artillery of the Philippine Army, two guns were issued to the UP Field Artillery Battalion. A fully functional US Howitzer 105mm M101A1 and a 105mm Italian Pack Howitzer which housed in the gun shed that the Corps has prepared for them. Glory days were back again for the Battery!
The year of early 2000 saw action-packed training for the cadets. Bewildered with the abolish ROTC movement due to the death of UST Cadet Mark Chua for exposing alleged corruption in UST ROTC, the Field Artillery Battalion was instrumental in showing everyone that UP offers quality training. Even though ROTC was made optional, more than a thousand students still enrolled to become cadets and many of them were enticed to enlist under the Great FA Battalion due to the one of a kind experience of training with actual howitzers. They were proud to be in UP, prouder to be in the ROTC and proudest to be in the Field Artillery.
The training was primarily centered on the concept of the FA Gunnery Team (Also known as Fire Support Gunnery Team). Understanding the crucial role of Combat Support and Mastery of the Forward Observer Procedures, Fire Direction Center and Firing Battery Operations prepared the FA cadets in conducting Fire Missions as their culminating activity at the end of the training year. These are held on known Fire Bases like the Crow Valley Tactical Gunnery Range near Camp O’Donnell Capas, Tarlac and at Fort Magsaysay Laur, Nueva Ecija. The Office of the Army Chief Artillery was instrumental in the conduct of the training for providing competent instructors and field officers and of course, the artillery pieces, ammunitions (both live and blank rounds) and logistics needed in the training.
The highlight of FA Battalion’s fame in the campus came in March 2002 wherein no less than the Commanding General of the Philippine Army, Lt. Gen. Jaime S. Delos Santos was the guest of honor in the 82nd UP Vanguard Homecoming Testimonial Parade at the Gen. Antonio Luna Parade Grounds (UP Sunken Garden). FA Battalion’s Firing Battery rendered a 15-Gun Salute fit for a Three-Star General. It was composed of six functional 105mm M101A1 Howitzers manned by competent FA gunnermen and cannoneers, complete with M35 trucks as prime movers and two Simba Armored Personnel Carriers as escorts which also joined the parade as mounted units. On the same date, it also participated in combined arms operation demonstration together with the Rangers and Mechanized Infantry to showcase the firepower of the Field Artillery in supporting the ground troops. Truly, the whole university was amazed at the sight that it has seen.
Precision and accuracy have been the trademarks of the Field Artillery Battalion; whether it be landing fires on targets in Field Training Exercises or synchronizing the first and the last round of the gun salute with the first and last note of the ruffles that the band plays during arrival honors. Thus, it has the distinction of being the Five-time recipient of the much coveted Best Battalion “Kampilan Sword” award of the UP Corps of Cadets – more than any Battalion has ever achieved.
Carrying the title “Rex Belli,” the Field Artillery continues to live up as the King of Battle. Its gunnermen having the distinction of wearing the fierce red beret and the bold black gloves roars with passion:
“WE ARE THE BATTERY, WE ARE THE BEST!”