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[Note: Gus Saboy, then senior correspondent to the Philippine News Service (now Philippine News Agency or PNA) for the Mountain Provinces, solely covered the First Philippine Military Academy (PMA)Overseas Goodwill Mission to the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1969. He was unanimously chosen by the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club to represent the local press and radio in the historic event. – Scott Magkachi Saboy]
Aboard RPS Albay (Lt – 39)
“The officers and men of RPS Albay (Lt-39) welcome you aboard. This is a commissioned ship of the Philippine Navy – your Navy. Built for service during the last World War, she is equipped with facilities designed only to meet minimum comfort. Nevertheless, we will try our best to ease the inconveniences you may encounter aboard with the hope that your passage with us will create an atmosphere of friendship, mutual understanding, and may it become a part of your lasting memoir. Here’s wishing you a pleasant cruising!”
With these words quoted from the brochure of the RPS Albay, 294 upper class cadets belonging to Class 1970 and 1971 and officers of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) were welcomed aboard the Philippine Navy vessel which was to take the cadets on their ten-day seamanship training and goodwill mission to the Republic of China – the first overseas cruise of the PMA upperclassmen and the first in the history of the PMA. Together with the 294 cadets and officers were 50 PMA enlisted men, most of whom were members of the PMA Band under Capt. Peregrino T. dela Aledia. All of the members of the mission headed by Brig. Gen. Cesar M. Garcia [now the Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) – sms] were uniformed men and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), except for two civilians – Ronaldo Rogel, commercial photographer of the PMA and this writer, representing the Baguio Press and Radio corps and the Philippine News Service (PNS).
The “words of welcome” were carefully worded and politely versed that all the inconveniences expected to be encountered by the men aboard the ship, which actually is a war vessel, have been expertly camouflaged in an effort to keep off solicitude and anxiety on the part of its passengers. The phrase in the welcome statement, “she is equipped with facilities designed only to meet minimum comfort,” however, was a warning that all of us aboard the ship were not there for an extended luxurious sea cruise. As it was to be our “boarding house” for the ten-day Taiwan tour, we knew that we were in the sea cruise for all the usual discomforts and deprivations met by sea-faring adventurers.
- to be continued…