By Cynthia De Castro/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – More than a thousand graduates, including two Filipinos and about half a dozen Filipino-Americans, tossed their caps during the graduation ceremonies of the US Naval Academy Class of ‘08 in Annapolis, Maryland last May 23.
Graduates of Annapolis are commissioned as Ensigns in the Navy or as 2nd Lieutenants in the Marines.
Among the Filipino American new graduates are Geraldine Manalo, Laura Pattawi, Jerson Peredo, and Joanne So. Filipino graduates Ensigns Carl Catalan of Dumaguete City and John Berjuega of Catanduanes are two of 16 foreign students who graduated. They entered the Academy after topping competitive exams administered through the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in Baguio City. The two new Philippine naval officers told ABS-CBN’s Balitang America, that beyond the state-of-the-art weaponry and tactics, the Academy has taught them the value of good leadership.
Another Filipino-American, Master Chief Bernard Quibilan of Cebu, was honored during the graduation rites. The highest ranking noncommissioned officer in Annapolis until his retirement earlier this year, Quibilan served like a second father to many of the midshipmen. In gratitude, the new graduates made him an honorary member of Class 2008.
In a study conducted by The Migrant Policy Institute (MPI) earlier this year, the Philippines was reported to have provided the most number of immigrants serving in the US military, many of them in the US Navy. Of around 65,033 foreign-born soldiers in the 1.36 million US Armed Forces, nearly 23 percent came from the Philippines; Mexico came a distant second with 9.5 percent.