Gen De los Santos, sir, our National Commander, distinguished guests, brother Vanguards, good evening. My assumption at the helm as Commandant of Cadets of UP Diliman ROTC in the middle of Nov 2009 was a rude awakening for me. Even though I know that the current NSTP law had taken its toll on the ROTC, still the sad realities of the state of the Corps of Cadets a few months back was not quite encouraging. I had been “raised” in the UP ROTC at a time when we had more than 3,000 cadets. When I took over, we had fewer than 30 attending. The Corps offices and classrooms in this DMST complex, once the hub of all reservist and ROTC training in NCR, had seen better days. The state of the cadet officers’ barracks, mute witness to many episodes and stories of young Vanguards, leave much to be desired. Tactical and technical skills, once the hallmark of the UP cadet officer, have been diluted, with even the basics seemingly lost.
But one thing I found encouraging and which seemed impervious to the ravage of time and the current environment, was the ENTHUSIASM, the willingness to LEARN and be mentored, the IDEALISM which once fired many of us when we entered the Corps and these hallowed grounds decades ago. Despite the seeming neglect, apathy, indifference and controversies that have hounded them the past years, they are still carrying on – and looking up to us to lead and guide them. Yes, the fire may be faint but it has not been lost. There is HOPE – and I see it in the eyes – and hearts – of the young men and women that come out of here to become our fellow-Vanguards.
National Commander sir, this HOPE and IDEALISM is what spurred us to undertake measures to re-shore the institution. We have started to give new direction to the training program, emphasizing on the core competencies needed as reservists and adding a social dimension and environmental component to keep it in step to the realities of today. Through the University Chapter, Classes ’66 and ’81 and other Vanguards, we have raised a substantial amount and initiated the “Re-Build the Barracks” Program as well as published a new UP ROTC website which will become not just a repository of information on the ROTC but eventually a training portal in a world wired by technology and communications. We have embarked on an advocacy campaign to reach out to prospective volunteers even before the next school year has started. We have been encouraging the cadet officers and my training staff to become more visible and to reach out even more to the different colleges and departments, treating them not as competitors for recruits but allies that can help us re-build the ROTC in UP. After all, ROTC in the Philippines started in the University and they – the academic community – as much as us, are heirs of this legacy.
Our new advocacy maintains that UP ROTC is not just a challenge. It is more than that. It is an opportunity to LEAD, to make a DIFFERENCE and leave a LEGACY. This is our conviction and our commitment.
Much has to be done. It is up to us – the Vanguards that we profess to be – to nurture this fire and make it a resurgent beacon and rallying point of the ROTC in the country as we envision it this day. I ask you therefore sir, to help us rally all the Vanguards to our common vision, that we may see the manifest fruit of this resurgence soon.
I know we will once more rise, there is no other way but up. The task seems daunting as it was once to the Carthaginian Army when, vastly outnumbered, it faced the formidable Romans in the classic Battle of Cannae. But its general, Hannibal, believed that “we will find a way, if not we will make a way” and he routed his enemies in a battle that has been the object of military study up to today.
Indeed, brother Vanguards, members of the Board, our National Commander, the fire still burns, and we will seize this opportunity, find a way, MAKE A WAY so we can pass on the torch the same way it was passed to us – in the true tradition of HONOR untarnished, DUTY well performed and COUNTRY above self!
We owe it to ourselves and succeeding generations of Vanguards.
LTC ROLANDO R RODIL INF (GSC) PA
Commandant of Cadets
UP Diliman ROTC