Today is the 30th day of December 2010, the weather is gloomy, the rain has been pouring, and if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s Dr. Jose Rizal’s death anniversary, this day would have been ordinary. But no matter how uneventful this day has been, I am still bound to remember it for the rest of my life. ‘Cause today, after 5 years, 6 months and 30 days, I am officially leaving the Presidential Security Group.
The first time I step foot on PSG grounds was in 2005. I was 22 years old, unemployed, and was dealing with the frustration of failing the last part of the training in a call center company. I was basically penniless, with no other means to earn a living. Job hunting was a torture because the companies I’d been applying to wouldn’t take me for lack of experience. I was at my wits end, overwhelmed with the feeling of dejection. The pressure was made worse by the fact that I was supposed to be the bread winner. My father died in 2000, my mother is unemployed, my older sister has a family of her own, and I got 4 younger siblings who were still in school. Imagine having that big a responsibility at 22. To me it all seemed unfair, a burden I never thought I’d have to carry. Still I took it as something that I had to do so I kept looking for a job.
I thought there was no ending to my darkest days until an opportunity knocked on my door. A friendly neighbor, Mrs. Lolita Sebastian told me of a job opening for a writer/researcher at PSG. Back then I had no idea what the PSG was all about so you can say it was one of the things that I did with eyes half opened. But as they say, beggars can’t be choosers so I no longer asked too many questions and decided to just pass the application. Tita Lolit was kind enough to help me go through it all.
The person who received my application was Mrs. Ariele Rustia, the PSG’s chief civilian employee. She took me to CMO (Civil-Military Operations) Branch office where I met Major Eugene Badua, who was then the Deputy of said office. Maj. Badua then introduced me to then Chief of Staff, Colonel Emmanuel Cacdac for an interview.
Months passed by before I got another call from PSG. Yes, it took them so long to get back to me that I had already given up any hope that I’d been accepted. The second call was for another interview, this time by the new Chief of the CMO Branch, Maj. Palmer Parungao. So I excitedly returned to the PSG, under the impression that I finally got the job. But boy was I so wrong. I found out that they were yet to make a decision. I couldn’t help but wonder how long must I wait. It was by far the longest time I had to spend for a job application and wondered if it was always the case when you apply to a government agency, or a military institution.
The status of my application was finally confirmed some time in May 2005. On the 1st day of June 2005, I was officially employed and designated as writer and researcher of PSG under the CMO Branch of OG3.
The PSG by the way is the lead agency that owns the responsibility of protecting the president of the Philippines including the First Family and the seat of government. They also extend their services to the heads of states from other nations and foreign dignitaries who visit the country. They are literally the body guards of the president, the local counterpart of the U.S. Secret Service.
They shadow the president wherever he goes, be it in professional or personal engagements. Being a PSG is a sort of a specialization. You don’t become one over night. You have to undergo their unique training which centers on VIP protection. Of course, a PSG must take an oath, that no matter what happens, even if it costs him his life, he must do anything in his power to ensure the safety of the president or the VIP he is tasked to protect. Pretty hard core huh?
As the PSG writer I had to cover events, write articles, and take care of the monthly PSG Newsletter as well as the twice-a-year-production of the PSG Troopers Magazine. I honestly loved my job and the people I worked with. The soldiers were cool and nice with me and the environment though military is not as strict as in private companies. I thought myself lucky for scoring such a cool job.
The highest point of my career in PSG was when I’d been tapped to become the speech writer of the PSG Commander. It was a job I totally disliked at first but eventually grew on me. I wrote speeches for three previous PSG Commanders; Major General Romeo C. Prestoza, Brigadier General Celedonio Boquiren (retired), and Colonel Jonas C. Sumagaysay. For this stint, I have to thank the two former Admin Officers of the Office of the Group Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Dante Barotilla and Lieutenant Commander Estelito Lagadia. By the way, my speech writing potential was first discovered by Major Fabian Marco Verzosa. He had a pre-made speech, which he allowed me to edit and improved. I will never forget the day he read my speech for it gave me that great sense of pride. Hearing my thoughts and words being spoken in front of many people was an experience like no other. I tell you it literally gave me the shivers.
Eventually I got indoctrinated, so to speak, in the military ways. I noticed that officers call each other “Bok,” while the Enlisted Personnel, especially those who were in the same class call each other, “Ching” or “Mate.” I also learned other military terms such as:
- Kamas-Kamas – a half-baked effort; a task completed haphazardly
- Relax – a person of a lower rank who either slackens or is disrespectful to his or her senior
- Snappy – A person who is good at following rules and produces quality work
- Low Morale – When a person is dispirited, sad, feeling underappreciated or exhausted
- High Morale – When a person is happy or feels valued
- Take Life – Doing something forbidden or against the rules
- Scag – Cigarette
- Scagger – A smoker
- Commo – Military communications’ documents.
- Positive – Can be used in different circumstances but basically means “yes”
- Negative – Obviously the contrast of the term “positive,” basically means “no”
- Happy Hour – A get-together or party which usually involves food and booze
The military has unique ways of doing things too. When writing the date, the day always comes first, followed by the month then the year, ex. 30 December 2010. They also use the 24-hour clock also known as military time, astronomical time, or international standard notation of time. It means that from 12 noon onwards, the hours are written as 1300H (1:00 p.m.) to 2300H (11:00 p.m.). When writing their names, they always include their branch of service like Sgt Delilah Cruz PA (PA means Philippine Army). For the name of the officers, they write it on uppercase like this, LTGEN DELFIN N BANGIT AFP.
The military officers are automatically the head honcho or the boss in an office or unit. They also get rotated; two years is usually long enough for a chief of office to serve, after which, he will be re-assigned somewhere else. Okay let me paint a picture more lucid; in my five years in PSG I have worked with a total of seven different bosses.
This presented a challenge, which at first I didn’t know how to handle. Each boss has moods, styles, and attitudes that I had to learn to adjust to. There are some who are easy to get along with, some are just pain in the ass, some are generous, some wouldn’t care if you haven’t eaten in days, some would give you kind consideration, some simply don’t give a damn. Some would be your friend, others you would rather not see again ever. Even so, I am thankful to these officers because they did affect my life or my kind of thinking one way or another. Allow me to mention all of them; Major Palmer M. Parungao, Major Thomas Dominic B. Baluga, Lieutenant Colonel Alex C. Maglajos, Lieutenant Colonel Edgardo C. Palma, Major Emilio G. Bartolo, Major Rolie Fernan, and Lieutenant Colonel Georgie B. Domingo.
I am amused to learn that being a PSG member carries some sort of a prestige. Suddenly people started paying attention to me. New acquaintances and old friends look at me in amazement upon hearing that I work for PSG in fact, I couldn’t count on my fingers the time I heard people utter, “wow” when I mentioned this fact. Some even call me “big time,” some thought I earned a lot (which by the way I didn’t), and some had an impression that I’d become untouchable or somebody important.
Other perks of being a PSG member include: connection with the military and the police force; meeting important people like former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; the opportunity to enter not only the Malacañang Palace but also the two other official residences of the Philippine President, the Malacañang sa Sugbu in Cebu and the picture-worthy, The Mansion in Baguio, among others.
You might be wondering now why I decided to leave PSG when I just painted a perfect picture. Well, it was a lot like breaking up with someone; it was an outcome of a variety of reasons, making you realize that this is it, you’ve reached the end of the road. Let’s just say that there were certain things that didn’t work quite well for me, and now I am choosing to move on.
Many believed that my decision was out of impulse, in Filipino, “Hindi pinag-isipan.” Besides, it’s not like there’s already a new job waiting for me. I honestly think though that it’s a long time coming. I do not expect people to understand especially those who are not privy to my thoughts or had little idea of my status in PSG. All I can say is, I am completely at peace with my decision. Though it breaks my heart to leave the people I’ve learned to care about all these years, I know that this is something I must do for my own advancement.
There are some matters in our lives that we eventually have to let go of in exchange for better things. At 28 I still have other dreams I want to pursue and I feel that there is no better time than now to start working on it. I want to shake my life a little, discover what other things the world has to offer.
Without any misgiving I will miss everyone in PSG. Forgive me but I am taking the liberty to thank and honor them by mentioning their names.
My heartfelt gratitude to my former superiors whose names I mentioned earlier and to my OG7 family; Major Peter Garceniego Jr., Police Senior Inspector Mary Ann P. Male, Technical Sergeant Ruben T. Lorenzana, Sergeant Froilan M. Sumayao, Sergeant Rolando Macapagal Jr., Corporal Wendylyn D. Esquillo, and Private First Class Wilzar A. Del Mundo. Also to former OG7 personnel, Master Sergeant Rogelio P. Ramirez, Staff Sergeant Amelito Aco, Private First Class Wendelio Sera, A1C Michelle Luis, Mr. Henry Atanacio, and Mang Ruming.
Many thanks also to my fellow civilian employees especially to the following: Mrs. Ariele B. Rustia, Mrs. Maricor B. Del Rosario, Mrs. Lolita Sebastian, Mrs. Julie Ann B. Tabongbong, Mrs. Nenita Nudo, Mrs. Michelle Antonette Narvaez, Mrs. Christina Verzosa, Mrs. Rose Balios, Mrs. Bernadette Torres, Mrs. Sandra Laguimun, Mr. Francisco Lontoco, Mrs. Lorna Cabayao, Mrs. Estrella Tabinas, Mr. Joseph Olbes, Mrs. Editha Cacdac, Ms. Eufemia De Leon, Dr. Cathy Belen, Dr. Girlie David, and the civilians of the 22nd FSU.
To the PSG Combo, other Officers, Enlisted Personnel, and all other former and current members of the PSG, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Most of all, to this one person who made everything wonderful…
To all people I might have caused pain, please accept my sincerest apology. To those who wronged and hurt me, I forgive you. All in all I am happy and grateful that I spent five years of my life in PSG. Before I end this, let me share with you one of the best pieces of advice that I got from a fellow civilian employee, Kuya Francis…
“Kung may di magandang nangyari sa to dito sa PSG, iwan mo lahat dito, wag mong dalhin sa labas. Huwag kang magsalita laban sa PSG kasi kahit papano, kahit maliit pa ang sweldo mo o di ka naregular may naitulong yan sayo. Magsimula ka ulit, wag mo ulitin ang pagkakamali mo pag natanggap ka sa iba, at yung mga mabubuting napulot mo dito, yun ang share mo sa iba…”