President and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Commander in Chief Benigno Aquino III awarded the Cadet and Cadette of the Year awards to two DLSU students during the AFP’s 77th Anniversary held last December 21, 2012 at the AFP General Headquarters, Quezon City.
Cadet Colonel Iceal Estrella, 1st class (IV, AB-PLM), corps commander of DLSU’s Naval ROTC unit received the Cadet of the Year award, while Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Jaimie Lou Sarmiento, 1st class (IV, AB-ISJ), deputy corps commander, received the Cadette of the Year award. It is the first time that both awards were received by cadets from DLSU in the same year.
The President gives the awards annually, while the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) board of judges selects the awardees. Two candidates from every ROTC unit in the Philippines were recommended to receive the award, and a pair each is chosen to represent the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The awardees will then come from the remaining six cadets who are judged based on their military and civilian achievements, involvements in social development, and awards and commendations received, among others.
“I feel honored and humbled that the award was given to me. Not everyone is given the chance to be awarded by the president… I am also happy to bring recognition to our university,” says Estrella, who adds that the award would not have been given to them without the efforts of the members of the DLSU unit. “[DLSU ROTC] provides holistic training, preparing the cadets for community development, nation building, love for country, and national defense.”
Sarmiento, meanwhile, shares, “It is truly a rare event that both awardees come from the same ROTC unit. This just shows that the DLSU Naval ROTC unit continually improves its standard for excellence not only in training the cadets but also in real life application.”
Both Estrella and Sarmiento have been part of the DLSU ROTC unit for four years now. Sarmiento recalls, “I chose ROTC as my NSTP because I wanted to prove that females are not limited to what society thinks… I stayed as an officer because I also want to inspire the succeeding batches of cadets, especially the females, to push themselves beyond their limits.”
The award was last received by a DLSU student Razel San Ramon in 2007. She received the Cadette of the Year award, and was also named Midshipwoman of the Year by the Philippine Navy in the same year.