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          More than two hundred youths trooped to the city gymnasium of Tacurong on August 28, 2011 to take the entrance examination of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
The entrance examination, the first ever to be conducted in the city, was the initial stage in the arduous process an applicant has to hurdle to enter the most prestigious military academy in the country.
Many of the applicants who took the exam were from Tacurong City but a sizable number also came from other municipalities of Sultan Kudarat and neighboring provinces.
Before the written test, examiners from the PMA checked first the exam permits of the applicants and subsequently conducted a limited physical test, which included height measurement among others. For males, an applicant must not be less than 5 feet and four inches tall, while a female applicant must reach at least 5 feet and two inches limit.
The examiners also accommodated a number of walk-in applicants with complete documentary requirements.
Major Edgar Catu, Senior Tactical Officer of PMA and team leader of the examiners who arrived in Tacurong, said that most of the applicants passed the limited physical test but there were some of them who failed to reach the height requirement.
One hundred ninety-nine applicants who passed the physical test were eventually allowed to take the written test.
Joining Major Catu in the team of examiners were Technical Sergeants Adelino Lomibao and Joel Tongawan. Two Cadets 1st Class, Bryan Vingno and Alvin dela Cruz, also were part of the five-man team. Vingno and dela Cruz, both residents of Barangay San Pablo, Tacurong will graduate in the PMA next year.
Residents of Tacurong and neighboring municipalities were excited upon hearing that the PMA selected the city as one testing centers in Region XII.
Mayor Lina Montilla said that the city government is grateful to the effort of Major Catu who personally recommended and lobbied to the PMA to add Tacurong as another testing center in the region.
In an interview, Major Catu said that in years that he has been conducting entrance tests, he observed that many applicants from Tacurong and neighboring towns were flocking to the testing centers in General Santos City and Cotabato City.
“I saw how difficult it was for them to go to far testing centers”, Major Catu said. “I recommended Tacurong to be a testing center and I am grateful that my recommendation solicited a positive response”.
He also stated that Tacurong has been a familiar place since he spent three years in the city when he was still with the 301st Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, which was formerly based in Barangay Kalandagan.
With the number of examinees who took the entrance test last Sunday, Major Catu is confident that the PMA will make the place a permanent testing center in the years ahead.
Mayor Montilla also hopes that with this recent development, the city will start producing a number of PMA graduates every year. [Allan S. Freno]