Philippine Air Force

Introducing the soldiers of Team Azkals

Team Azkals: Chiefly (left), Roel (right)

The whole country was excited when the Home and Away soccer game was announced and that it was to be held in the Philippines. When Panaad Stadium was chosen to be the venue, it was much to the delight of my fellow Bacolodnons and Negrenses.

The game is a welcome respite from a wave of corruption scandal in the Armed Force of the Philippines that has brought much anxiety and frustration to Filipinos.

From the moment Team Philippines’ Azkals arrived in Bacolod, screaming teenagers and staunch supporters crowded every place they visited. The team and Coach Michael Weiss indulge their fan’s excitement.  They allowed them to picture-taking opportunities with the players, sign autographs and scrapbooks!  They even allowed them to be stalked up to the hotel.  You can imagine this gave hotel security enough headache to deal with. Some even addressed Coach Weiss as Daddy Coach much to the amusement of the always smiling coach.

While the rest of the team members were crowded by the adoring fans, I took the chance to talk with the Ilonggo players. As a new soccer fanatic, I learned one surprising fact.  I found out that almost all pure Filipino players on the team are mostly soldiers from the Philippine Army and the Air Force.

According to 28 year old Chieffy Caligdong, and a member of the Philippine Air Force, he has been with that team for 10 years already. He and considers the current attention given to the Azkals as a big plus factor to the sport itself. Now that the Azkals are famous, he is hoping that the younger generation would follow their footsteps by playing soccer too. He added that the team is built on the strong foundation of players’ camaraderie with each other already.  The idea that they are raising the flag of the Philippines whenever they play, is good enough to make them prouder as soldiers, and as players as well.

When asked about the advantage of being an Azkal, 35 year old Roel Gener, and a member of the Philippine Army, said that the team is inspired to work and play harder to influence the youth to be involved in soccer and to, at least, gain support for them to win more games for the country.  Financial support was scarce during the time when the team was still struggling, and was practically unknown to the general public.

Although there are still some who are skeptical as to how long they will be able to sustain the interest of the public towards soccer, the Azkals, are hoping that their fellow Filipinos will continue to support the Team win or lose.

The soldiers in the team are still aiming big with hopes that someday the Azkals will join the likes of Brazil and Spain in games like the World Cup.  They are taking everything one step at a time. Their hearts are strong, and that serving the country is their topmost duty and interest.

Members of the Azkals who are from the Philippine Army are Roel Gener, Ricardo Becite, Nestorio Margarse, Eduard Sacapano.

Members of the Azkals who are from the Philippine Air Force are Chieffy Caligdong,Peter Jangan, Reymark Palmes, Joebel Bermejo, Ian Araneta and Yante Barsales.

Speech of His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III, on Anniversary of the Philippine Air Force

Camp Jesus Villamor

July 5, 2010

(Please check against delivery)

Kalihim Gazmin, Lt. Gen. Rabena, men and women of the Philippine Air Force:

Noong Biyernes, ipinaabot ko sa buong Hukbong Sandatahan ng Pilipinas ang mga layunin ng aking administrasyon ukol sa pambansang seguridad. Nagsisimula ito sa wastong oriyentasyon ng mga namumuno, sibilyan man o militar: propesyonalismo at integridad, dispilina at kagitingan, at pagkakasundo sa stratehiyang masusunod.

Sa stratehiyang ito, kailangang makilahok ang lahat ng sektor, kasama na rin ang pangangalaga ng mga karapatan ng sambayanan. Sa paraang ito, makakamit natin ang pagnanais ng lahat na magkaroon ng makabuluhang reporma ng mga proseso at patakaran.

Ngayon gusto kong ipaabot sa inyo ang aking mga layunin para sa ating Hukbong Himpapawid. Katulad ng sinabi ko sa buong AFP, marami tayong hinaharap na pagsubok. Limitado ang magagastos natin, ngunit marami ang kailangan nating gawin.

Paano natin, paano ninyo, magagawa ang mga ito? Kailangan natin sundin ang konsepto ng propesyonalismo at utilitarianismo: ang mga repormang itataguyod natin ay kailangang magsimula sa layunin na ito ay makadudulot ng kaginhawaan sa buong Hukbong Himpapawid at hindi para sa iilan lamang. Ang pundasyon ng lahat ng ito ay ang layunin ng ating administrasyon na palaguin ang ating ekonomiya, kung saan kailangan natin ng kapayapaan at katahimikan.

Habang mayroon kayong pananagutan sa inyong mga pinuno, sila naman ay nananagutan sa mga sibilyan na opisyal. Ito ay dahil ang tutoong commander-in-chief nating lahat ay ang sambayanang Pilipino. Ang inyong chain-of-command ay hindi nagwawakas sa akin, dahil ako din ay may pananagutan sa sambayanan.

Kaya kahit ang aking pagnanais ay maayos ng inyong mga hanay ang inyong mga hinaharap na problema, kailangan din maging malinaw sa ating lahat, na ang ultimong silbi ay hindi lamang nakatakda sa wastong pamamalakad ng Hukbong Himpapawid: kasama na rin dito ang tapat na paglilingkod ng PAF sa buong bayan.

Nagiging malinaw na malinaw ito sa panahon ng kalamidad. Ang inyong mga pang-militar na operasyon ay natatabunan ng pangangailan – at ng mga inaasahan – ng sambayanan na kayo ang isa sa mga napakahalaga at epektibong taga-bigay ng saklolo sa mga kababayan natin na nasa panganib.

Ang inyong tungkulin pagdating sa territorial defense at sa disaster response, ay dalawang bahagi ng inyong misyon sa pambansang kaunlaran.

Ang mga istatistika na isinusumite ninyo, ay nagpapakita ng mga kailangan pa nating maisagawa. Kailangan nating pag-aralan at planuhin kung paano mabibilisan an gating facility readiness para higit pa itong tumaas. Gayundin ang readiness rate sa Command, na siyang tataas kung matatapos natin ang on-base housing project. Kasama na rin dito ang pinaplano at pinipresenta na pag-upgrade sa mga makina, pagbili ng mga bagong air assets, at surveillance equipment upang magawa ninyo ang inyong trabaho. Kailangan ding punan ang kakulangan sa iba pang logistical at maintenance requirements upang makamit ninyo ang inyong mga misyon at kinakailangang flight hours.

Naniniwala ako na sa tuwid na pamamalakad ni Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena, na matagal ring namahala sa Plans and Programs ng AFP at sanay sa pagtugon sa ganitong mga suliranin, ay maisasakatuparan din ang aking mga inilahad sa inyo.

The foundation of the morale and esprit de corps of any military organization, is a merit-based officer corps, issuing clear orders that comply with both the spirit and letter of the law. The effectiveness of any military organization is dependent on officers and men and women having full faith and confidence that they will be provided the means to do their job: from arms and equipment to homes and health care. The proper relationship between civilians and the military exists where there is trust, and that trust depends on strategic harmony.

My fundamental philosophy is there cannot be right solutions without the corresponding correct identification of the problems. Secretary Gazmin is undertaking, at my direction, a comprehensive review of the many aspects of our national defense with this orientation in mind. I want you to know that if my expectations of you are high, it is because I know that our people’s expectations of all of us are the highest. I will not make false promises to you or tell you things simply for the sake of making positive headlines.

On this, your anniversary, what I want you to know is this: your president and your countrymen are proud of the work you are doing. Sa eleksiyon, ginampanan ninyo ang inyong tungkulin ng walang pamumulitika. Kung anong kagitingan ang ipinapakita ninyo sa mga combat operations, yun din ang pinanapikita ninyong malasakit sa panahon ng kalamidad. Keep it up.

Nagagalak ako na ang isang bahagi ng anibersaryo na ito ay ang pagbibigay ng mga komendasyon at awards sa mga miyembro ng inyong hanay, na nagpakita ng kagalingan at abilidad. This is what the PAF is about: whatever the odds, it is to defend your country and people with the valor and dash of Jesus Villamor. I salute you.

Mabuhay ang Hukbong Himpapawid! Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

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