The UP ROTC Story

Military Training Before World War I

Organized military training in the University of the Philippines started in 1912 when it was made a required subject for all able-bodied male students in all colleges; institutes; and schools of the University. The international situation, the prevailing; preferred the foreboding of worse things to come. The inabilities in Asia, particularly the Russo-Japanese conflict and Western intervention in China, brought home the point to Filipino and American leaders of the need to develop gradually a fledgling military force that may be mobilized in the event of emergency.

Training was mainly in infantry and the use of the rifle. Capt. SILVINO GALLARDO of the Philippine Constabulary, was the first Commandant of Cadets and assumed office during the first semester of 1912.

As war clouds loomed in Europe, the needs of national defense became more acute. The United States government authorized the organization of the Philippine National Guard (NG) in the archipelago patterned after the National Guard outfits in the various states of the US.

In 1913, military training in the UP was placed under the supervision of the Philippine National Guard with training support from the Philippine Division; US Army Captain JUAN VILLASANTA, of the Philippine National Guard as Commandant of Cadets.

The training during this period has many limitations. Mostly wooden guns were used, there was no definite program of instruction and very little equipment are available for military training. The greatest difficulty was the fact that there was no promise of a military career for those who underwent this training due to the absence of an organized reserve corps.

The World War I Era

There are developments during the World War I era worth mentioning. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Philippine Government felt the need for a good reserve of able-bodied Filipino trained in the art of war aggression.

This need was realized pursuant to an act of Philippine Legislature providing for compulsory military training in all high schools and colleges in the Philippines. In 1916, all able-bodied male citizens of the University were required to undergo military drill.

The Philippines had no significant military involvement in World War I, although a few Philippines Nationals served in the battlefields in France, notably Corporal Tomas Claudio (who was killed in action) and Major Basilio Valdez, a medical officer (who later became the first C Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army).

After World War I, the Philippine National Guard was disbanded, Military training in the University remained nominally under the US Army, the program being an informal one, as peace has already returned. Available records do not state whether a Commandant of Cadets was resident in the University after the tenure of Captain Villasanta.

Reawakening of Defense Consciousness

Political developments have a way of influencing military thinking. The decade of the 1920’s was characterized by the surge of national feeling towards political autonomy and eventual independence for the Philippines. It was inevitable that a reawakening of defense consciousness would flow simultaneously. Despite world talks on disarmament, it was distinctively clear that imperial Japan would be a potential aggressor in the future.

In November, 1921, UP President GUY PORTER BENTON recommended to the Board of Regents the formal establishment of a systematic course in military science in the University. The Board of Regents favorably acted on this. On November 9, 1921, the Board of Regents requested the United States War Department, through the Governor General, the services of a US Army Professor of Military Science and Tactics.

Governor General LEONARD WOOD gave whole-hearted support to this move, and in turn asked the United States War Department to detail a US Army Officer as Commandant and Professor of Military Science and Tactics. The request was approved.

On March 17, 1922, Captain CHESTER ARTHUR DAVIES, US Army, reported to the Board of Regents, which, in turn, authorized the establishment of the Department of Military Science and Tactics, and approved the plans and programs of instruction. In the same year, the Philippine Department, US Army, supplied the DMST with armaments and equipment. The UP DMST then became officially one of the curricular department of the University of the Philippines. The course of instruction opened on July 3, 1922 and the term military drill was superseded by the term military science and tactics.

The Philippine Reserve Officers Training Corps

With the formal organization of the UP DMST on March 17, 1922 and course opening on July 3, 1922, the objectives and purposes of the Department were announced:

1st To develop patriotic, physically sound, upright and disciplined citizens.
2nd To create a Corps of Trained Officers for the Reserve Force.
3rd To take the lead in fostering the University Spirit.

The Corps of Cadets took form and was known as the Philippine Reserve Officers Training Corps (PROTC). On its organization on July 3, 1922, juniors and seniors who took the course were made cadet officers. The corps was well organized in 3 months.

In October, 1922, the UP Corps of Cadets paraded in honor of alumni members of the Philippine Legislature, for which they were commended by the guests for their steady progress. On Armistice Day (November 11) of the same year when the corps turned out in parade, no less than Governor General LEONARD WOOD enthusiastically praised the Corps and counseled them to be prepared to defend their country.

We quote here under remarks made by high government and military officials as of that time:

General READ, Commanding General, US Army: ‘I have seldom seen, if ever, a more splendid body of young men as those who walked past in review. Many of the men looked to me like promising materials for officers and leaders in case of emergency.

Senate President Manuel L. Quezon: Allow me to congratulate you once more for your successful parade. It made me thrill with delight.

Admiral Schichigoro Saito, Imperial Japanese Navy: It was a wonderful sight. The cohesion of movements of the cadet was particularly impressive and speaks well of men responsible for their training. Fine, fine, very fine. (After a review of cadets on December 1, 1933).

Admiral FROCHET, French Navy: I was impressed by the cadets perfect execution of the manual of arms. (February 24, 1924).

The above observations were highly prophetic, for a fledgling ROTC was taking form as a national institution. Military science and tactics training was spreading to other institutional institutions of the land.

Governor General WOOD showed deep concern in the development of a system of Philippine national defense. He sought more improvement in the military organization in the UP and recommended the inclusion of the UP Corps of Cadets in the ROTC of the United States. This was approved in the US Senate.

Within the University, many members of the faculty took interest in military training. In appreciation of this, they were granted honorary ranks. President Benton was commissioned a honorary Colonel-in-Chief; Professor Henry Townsand as honorary colonel and Inspector General; Professor Tan and Secretary Estrellas as honorary Majors.

Military Science and Tactics

Studies in Military Science and Tactics, in the University of the Philippines are curricular activities, much as the DMST is a curricular department. Since the opening of these courses in 1922, the basic course I infantry were compulsory courses and a prerequisite for graduation in the academic courses.

The Field Artillery Unit was established on October 26, 1929 with the issuance of the 75mm field guns. In July, 1932, the Browning cal. 30 machine guns were included in the armory inventory. In 1963, a mounted battery unit was organized equipped with 2.95 inch guns.

On March 5, 1925, the UP Board of Regents, in their 273rd meeting approved the granting of University Certificates to those students who may have completed the prescribed courses (advanced courses) beyond the basic course in Military Science and Tactics, thus making them alumni of the University even when may not have finished yet with their academic courses.

On March 30, 1936, by proclamation of President Manuel L. Quezon, graduates of the basic two year course in military science and tactics were exempted from the trainee instruction required under the National Defense Act, and qualified them for commission in the Philippine Army reserve.

The years 1936-1937 saw increased interest in military training. By far, the University of the Philippines was producing the most officers to fill up billets in the fledgling Philippine Army. Aside from campus training, cadets were sent to Army camps during the summer months. Observation tours were made. Field Artillery demonstrations were made by the 24th Field Artillery under General Lee J. Parker. The 26th Cavalry (PS) US Army under Colonel Francis Ruggles and Colonel E Kearsely Sterling taught selected cadets on cavalry tactics. The Third Pursuit Squadron at Clark Field under Major Gerald Brewer demonstrated air tactics.

UP ROTC graduates formed the nucleus of the Reserve Officers Service School (ROSS), the first real Army service school. A good number of them formed part of the Faculty of the newly established Philippine Military Academy. Those destined for the Artillery trained at Camp Dau, Pampanga for field artillery and at Fort Wint, Grande Island for Coast Artillery. Those destined for the Infantry and the Corps of Engineers trained at Camp Murphy where the schools for these arms and services were located. Those who took to a career in the air corps joined the Philippine Army Air Corps school at Zazlan Field.

Other than the defunct Philippine Constabulary Academy, the UP ROTC produced most of the leaders who were destined to distinguish themselves in the Defense of the Philippines in 1941-42 and the succeeding Resistance War against the Japanese aggressor.

The Japanese Invasion

The UP ROTC Corps of Cadets participated in the last Commonwealth Day Parade on November 15, 1941 at Quezon City. President Manuel L. Quezon, in his speech exhorted the cadets to be ready to make the supreme sacrifice. The mobilization of the Philippine Army was then in progress, and several units had been inducted into the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).

War in the Philippines came in the early morning of December 8, 1941. It was a drill day, and most cadets attended their formation at the Padre Faura campus where the fateful announcement of war was made. Almost to a man, the cadets volunteered for military service. Cadets in the advanced courses were mobilized and joined the Philippine Army divisions. Junior cadets were initially marshaled, but were sent home on December 23 when the Army went to field in big mass movement to the citadel of freedom Bataan Peninsula.

Military equipment and materials of the UP DMST were absorbed by the Philippine Army, as the Commandant, Major Armando Dumlao, headed the cadets volunteers in beefing up the Army units headed for Bataan. A good number of them joined General Fidel S. Segundo’s 1st Regular Division. (General Segundo was the first Filipino Commandant of the UP DMST).

The UP DMST was officially closed for the duration of the war on December 25, 1941 when Manila was declared an Open City. Its mission of preparing a good part of the Citizen Army leadership has been accomplished, its history to be written in the blood of the enemy and its own.

Bataan, Corregidor and the Resistance War

Stand up, Say Sir, Salute and Shoot!!!! This was the shibboleth of the UP ROTC engendered by Brigadier General Fidel V. Segundo, who as a captain in the US Army became the first Filipino Commandant in the UP in 1931-36. The first three were well developed in campus training, and the shooting phase was going on in the field of battle.

We herein mention some of the alumni of UP ROTC who etched their names in our military history with valor. Many others did their part but have remained within the curtain of anonymity.

Major ALFREDO M. SANTOS, Class 29 and captain ADAMIN TALLOW, both UP ROTC graduates drew first blood of the Japanese invader in the beach defense of Mauban and Atimonan in December 1941. These two were charged with the delaying actions as the Southern Luzon Force withdrew to Bataan. Major Santos, as a Regimental Commander of the 1st Regular Division again earned the sobriquet of Hammer of the Division in the much-renowned battle of the points and the pockets. He later became the first 4-star general of the AFP in 1963.

Captain FERDINAND E. MARCOS, Class 37 distinguished himself in action in the defense of Lingayen Gulf, and in Bataan campaign, and later as a leader of guerrillas with USAFIP (NL). A much-decorated hero, he eventually became Congressman, Senate President and became President of the Philippines in 1966.

Major MACARIO PERALTA JR. was G3 of the 6th Infantry Division of the 6th Military District in Panay when war broke out. With the surrender of the USAFFE on May 6, 1942, he carried on with guerrilla warfare in the Island of Panay. He carried out specific resistance war, was raised to the rank of Colonel, and later Brigadier General.

Brig. Gen. CARLOS P. ROMULO, another UP fellow was in charge of the famous Voice of Freedom. He was assisted in this effort by Captain SALVADOR P. LOPEZ (who became UP President) and Captain FRANCISCO ISIDORO.

Captain SALVADOR ADCEDE, Class 36 led the resistance fighters in the Island of Negros. Lt. Colonel SALIPADA PENDATUM, Class 36 was the leading guerilla leader in Southern Mindanao.

The UPROTC alumni mentioned above are just a trickle of the host of VANGUARDS who followed the course of DUTY, HONOR and COUNTRY during World War II. Let it be understood that many others had served with the same undying faith and fervor.

Immediate Post War Developments

World War II ended in august 1945 with the surrender of Japan. Steps were immediately taken for the rehabilitation of the University of the Philippines and commencement of academic activities in the war-ravaged Padre Faura campus with President Bienvenido Gonzales at the helm.

The UP DMST was reorganized and activated as part of the Manila ROTC on August 1, 1946. Major Marcelo U. Castillo, CAC, a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, was the first post-war commandant. The traditional infantry and artillery units were established. With a full staff, the ROTC was well equipped with arms and other articrafts. Major Castillo was replaced by Major Vicente Ancheta in 1948.

In 1948, the UP ROTC included training in tanks, armored infantry and self-propelled artillery. Light and medium tanks, as well as self-propelled 105mm howitzers became part of the weapons inventory. Major Feliciano U. Castillo, FA, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, took over as commandant in 1949. With the prospective transfer of the University to the Diliman Campus, training was accelerated. During this period, a number of deserving ROTC graduates were sent to Officers Candidate School in the US, among them being Cdt Col BIENVENIDO CASTRO, Cdt Capt RODOLFO C. VILLARICA (became Superintendent, MROTC & PMT Units, PA). A good number of UP ROTC cadets took their summer cadre training with the Philippine Ground Force (PGF) at Camp Floridablanca, Pampanga.

Military training resumed at the Diliman campus during the school year 1949-50 under the stewardship of Major Castillo. By then, the Communist insurgency in the Philippines gained headway and the Korean War had begun. A new urgency in national security has appeared as the Philippine Army battalion combat teams (BCTs) came into being, and the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) were being formed. A new tradition was in the offing.

Influences of the Huk Campaign and the Korean War

The counterinsurgency campaign against the Communist Huks, the Jolo outlaws led by Kamlon and the Korean War had their influences on ROTC training. The need for qualified and well-trained officers to man and BCTs was quite severe.

Military training in UP emphasized the infantry-artillery team. Under the forceful leadership of Major Castillo, live-fire exercises on Battalion Combat Team level were conducted at Marikina area. The same emphasis was laid by Major Roman T. Gavino Sr. who became commandant in 1951 and Lt Col Joaquin Hidalgo who succeeded Major Gavino. A number of ROTC graduates from classes 1948 to 1955 answered the call to the colors. Many of them received regular commissions in the AFP. Cdt Col Jose D Drillon Jr (Class 51) got a direct commission upon graduation. Those who served in the Korean War were 2nd Lt Rodolfo C Villarica (48), 2nd Lt Bienvenido R Castro (49), 2nd Lt Dionisio de Leon (49), 2nd Lt Jose D Drilon Jr (51), 2nd Lt Alfredo dela Cruz (50), 2nd Lt Baltazar Aguirre (51), and 2nd Lt Benjamin Vallejo (52).

Other graduates who got regular commissions were 2nd Lt Jose P Magno Jr (52), 2nd Lt Jaime Alfonso (52), 2nd Lt Angeles Cabigao (51), 2nd Lt Benjamin Divinagracia (53), 2nd Lt Danilo Lazo (54) and 2nd Lt Constante R Quiaoit (55). A host of others joined the service as reserve officers on active duty.

It was during the term of Lt Col Hidalgo when the UP VANGUARD was reorganized in 1952 with Senator Macario Peralta Jr as the National Commander.

The influences of the Huk and outlawry campaign and the Korean War produced a new crops of professional officers from the UP ROTC which was destined to carry on a tradition of excellence in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Continued Reserve Officer Development

With the achievement of relative peace in the country as the Huk and Mindanao troubles died down and with the armistice in Korea, ROTC training in the University became almost routine. From 1956 onward, not so many ROTC graduates went to the Military service.

Openings for the Officers Candidates School (OGS) at Portsea, Australia were made available for ROTC cadets. The UP ROTC opened this new tradition with the following outstanding graduates of said school: 2nd Lt Jose Lauchengco Jr (60), 2nd Lt Romulo Yap (61), 2nd Lt Ruperto Ambil and 2nd Lt Rafael Y Arcega.

This year 1964 marked Philippine involvement in South Vietnam and the sending of the first Philippine Contingent to that embattled country. This provided opportunity for UP ROTC graduates to prove their worth. Captains Agrifino R de Guzman and Benjamin R Vallejo earned the Gallantry Cross (Silver Star) and the Medal of Honor (1st Class) for civic action duty in Vietnam. Captains Jose P Magno Jr, Constante Quiaoit and Ricardo Octaviano were awarded he RVN Medal of Honor (1st Class). After PHILCON I, other UP ROTC graduates served in Vietnam headed by Major Bienvenido R Castro, and including Captain Romulo Yap and Captain Jose P Magno Jr (who served a second overseas term with PHILCAG), all of whom were awarded a string of decorations.

Relevant Military Training

The latter part of the decade of the 1960’s ushered the era of student activism. The youth, including cadets were affected by the search for national relevance. Col Virgilio T Almeda, the Commandant then with Captain Benjamin R Vallejo as his assistant, commenced serious studies with the end in view of making ROTC training relevant to the times. A small unit maneuver was conducted in November 1967 in the hilly area east of the UP campus which showed that the cadets were receptive to training on ranger and unconventional warfare lines. During the incumbency of Col Jose M Tinio as Commandant volunteer training for ranger and unconventional warfare was incepted on September 13, 1968 with Captain Benjamin R Vallejo as Training Director. Thus were the UP Sunday Soldiers born the beginning of a Home Defense tradition that continues to this day.

Four volunteer classes were graduated by the summer of 1970. On January 18, 1970, Lt Col Rodolfo C Villarica, then Commandant, welcomed high officers of the DND-AFP during the First Week-end Warrior Visitation to the UP ROTC. On January 8 of the same year, Secretary Ernesto O Mata of National Defense, directed the inception of the Sunday Soldiers concept of training in the ROTC.

The concept burgeoned to battalion-size training during the term of Bienvenido R Castro as Superintendent, MROTC & PMT Units in August 1970 and increased to Brigade-size in the ensuing years to this day.

The volunteer concept became popularly known as the RAINBOW Ranger training concept. Although the membership spread to other institutions, the leadership remained with the UP ROTC and the UP VANGUARD.

Dedication to Democracy

The UP ROTC remained steadfast in its dedication to democracy. Even during the height of student radical activism in 1970-71, training continued without let-up. Student radicals targeted the ROTC in demonstrations during the parades presenting the Corps of Sponsors in 1970 and 1971. Though a number of cadets affected by radical activism, the Corps as a whole carried on with its activities and training mission. Cadet Lt Danilo Delfin became its first martyr when he was mercilessly shot down by subversive elements near Vinzons Hall during the hectic days of the UP Barricades and the infamous Diliman Commune in February 1971. Cadet Delfin remained paralyzed as a result of his wounds.

In November 1970, the UP Sunday Soldiers spearheaded ROTC participation in policing the elections for Constitutional Delegates in the Ilocos Region. In December of the same year Cadet Officers and the Sunday Soldiers underwent Jungle Warfare and Mountain Operations Training at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal and the jungle base in Mount Daraitan.

During the disaster in September 1970, a team under Sunday Soldier Duffy Osental reported to the National Disaster Control Center and cleared the Pacific Avenue area of debris and engaged in rescue operations.

In November 1971, a whole battalion of Sunday Soldiers and UP Cadet Officers formed the Liberator Battalion which policed the elections in the Lanao provinces. The outfit was commanded by Lt Col Benjamin R Vallejo. During the 3-week stint of peace-keeping in Lanao, nine citations for bravery were earned by cadets of the Battalion. Cadet Captain Mariano Angeles was cited for bravery in action against Muslim malefactors in the mountain fastnesses of Butig, Lanao del Sur on November 9, 1971. He eventually was selected most outstanding ROTC cadet of that year. Ranger John Fortes (70) and Cadet Captain Eustaquio Granadillos also earned citations of bravery at Pualac and Malabang respectively.

During the floods and disasters in July-August, 1972, men of the UP ROTC again proved their mettle in the crisis. Under the initiation of Ranger Virgilio Platon, young volunteers formed disaster, mercy and rescue units. The initial operations involved assistance at the NDCC and ABS-CBN relief centers. As the floodwaters continue to flow, 100 young UP volunteers operated at the Calumpit-Apalit area where the Pampanga river rampaged. Likewise in the south, Laguna lake flooded the northern Laguna towns. A similar group of 100 volunteers from the UP in Los Banos and the Laguna Institute, all members of the Rainbow Brigade joined hands in disaster and relief operations.

Martial Law and the New Society

ROTC Training was reemphasized with the declaration of martial law and the emergence of the New Society. Presidential Proclamation 1081 and succeeding implementing directions tended to bring military training and the development of resources to the forefront.

After the declaration of Martial Law on September 22, 1972, the UP ROTC joined other units in civic action. Particularly, they operated in the UP campus and vicinity and assisted in the garnering of one of the major prizes for the University of the Philippines in the beautification campaign.

Under the leadership of Colonel Rodolfo Villarica, as Commandant and Superintendent, ROTC civic action gained the respect and appreciation of the people in general.

Colonel Villarica insured the rise of the new UP DMST complex, a painstaking job since the destruction by fire of the old DMST Building in March 1970. The complex was inaugurated during the 50th Golden Anniversary of the UP DMST and the UP VANGUARD on December 17, 1972. Formal turnover of the facilities were made on March 8, 1973.

The toughest term for a Commandant fell during the tenure of Colonel Villarica. He unflinchingly faced the travails of rising student radical activism during the critical of 1969 to 1972. Likewise, it fell on his shoulders to face the transition to bring the UP ROTC under the aegis of martial law and its development for the new society.

For this task well done, Colonel Villarica was awarded Military Merit Medal during the 2nd Home Defense Visitation ceremonies at the Abelardo Hall on February 25, 1973. Home Defense Secretary Jose M Crisol, on presenting the award to Colonel Villarica commented there was no man more deserving.

New Horizons; New Tasks

As the University of the Philippines forged to new horizons and new tasks after the nightmare of radical activism and subversive insurgency, home defense development gained added significance. President Salvador P Lopez requested Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile for the detail of Lt Col Benjamin R Vallejo (52) as Commandants of Cadets.

On direction of General Romeo C Espino AFP Chief of Staff, Lt Colonel Vallejo was detailed as Commandant of ROTC Cadets on March 1, 1973, the 31st officer to hold that position since 1912. The UP Board of Regents confirmed his appointment as Commandant and Department Head, Department of Military Science and Tactics, as of that date.

During the summer of 1973, Lt Colonel Vallejo, with the UP-led Ranger Cadre, trained the MROTC Summer Camp Battalion (Provisional) at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. Concurrently, he was the Training Director of the Transition and Orientaion Course for New Officers (TOCNO) to prepare PMA Class 73 for duty in the combat zones. For outstanding achievement in reserve force he was awarded his fourth military Merit Medal in ceremonies at UP Los Banos on April 22, 1973 and his fifth Military Merit Medal in field ceremonies at Camp Capinpin on June 1, 1973. Likewise, he received the outstanding command plaque for Army FTX DAMAYAN from the Commanding General, 2d Infantry Brigade (Separate) Philippine Army, and a similar command plaque from the Commanding Officer, Philippine Army School Center.

The UP DMST continues with the traditional training of the UP Corps of Cadets and stewards the Manila ROTC RAINBOW Ranger Brigade.

Commencing with the school year 1973 74 new directions for Youth Development Citizen Army Training (YD & CAT) in the secondary schools were made. This effort, under the supervision of the Department of Education & Culture and the Department of National Defense brought a more relevant meaning to overall youth development.

On July 1, 1973, the start of the new fiscal year, Lt. Colonel Vallejo convened the first seminar conference of Youth Development and Citizen Army Training Department heads of secondary schools within the supervisory jurisdiction of the UP ROTC. The conferees were welcomed into the UP by the Vice President for Administration Ramon Portugal. Colonel Villarica, MROTC superintendent discussed the overview considerations.

On July 21, 1973 the first formal presentation of Youth Development and Citizen Army Training in secondary school was held at the Philippine Science High School, the premier high school within the UP ROTC jurisdiction. The Undersecretary of National Defense, Jose M. Crisol, Guest of Honor, on whose shoulders rest the national supervision of the Home Defense Program, graced the occasion with his presence. He brought home the points of youth development and citizen army training, its relevance to our defense needs and the New Society. The high personalities from the DND AFP and the Department of Education were welcomed by Dr. Cleofe Bacungan, PSHD Directress; 1st Lt. Lorenzo Ramos, CAT Commandant, and Lt. Col. Benjamin R. Vallejo of the UP DMST. Just like the University of the Philippines, the Philippine Science High School, a former hotbed of student radical activism, stood to be counted for national development and national defense.

Looking into the Future

The UP ROTC, from its humble beginnings of military training, has bridged a total of sixty one (61) years. The generations from 1912 to 1973 have indelibly left their mark in our country’s history.

The University of the Philippines is integrally intertwined with the development and progress of the Philippines, and in this, the UP ROTC has and continues to make its contributions.

The concepts of DUTY, HONOR and COUNTRY will continue to guide all UP ROTC fellows. So was it in 1912; so it is in 1973; so will it be in all years to come.
Published during the Alumni Homecoming & Convention March 23-24, 1974 at UP Los Banos
UP ROTC Corps of Cadets Commencements Exercises March 24, 1974

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