Enduring and Enjoying The CMT

It was one of the few times that we wished we had a medical record to show that we were physically unfit or even sick. Yes, we were looking for proof that we were advised by a doctor to restrain from doing strenuous activities. The reason? We wanted to be exempted from the two-year military training or known then as Citizen’s Military Training (CMT), a requirement for college graduation.

We had reasons why we wanted to evade CMT. First, we did not like the thought of being exposed to the sweltering heat of the sun. Second, we saw from those ahead of us how they were subjected to physical punishments, like doing push-ups or “the-do-it-yourself” knocking of the head, and others. But the more compelling reason why we shunned CMT was the requirement to cut our hair short. As teenagers, we wanted to be in vogue with the current hair style, which meant sporting long hair.

Our desperate attempt to be exempted from CMT did not succeed, except for Nox who claimed to have an asthma and JunTabs who had a strange illness that is too below-the-belt to mention here. They were clever enough to corroborate their claim with a doctor’s certificate. Actually, they were not totally exempted from CMT but were assigned to the office as typists and errand boys, which meant that they were still required to wear military uniform during CMT formation. They were however not obliged to have a military haircut as well as to join drills and formation in the field like the rest of us. It was a privilege which was a source of envy to many of us.

So, the rest of us took CMT even if contrary to our will. As cadets we had to cut our hair according to what was officially prescribed and to attend the drill and formation under the heat of the sun every Saturday afternoon. But it was not all. We were also required to do an early morning jog at least once a week, a difficult task since as teenagers we always wanted to have longer sleep.

But there was a special event which became the most memorable experience we had as CMT cadets. It was the weekend bivouac during our first year. It was done together with the cadets of the Divine Word College, our mother unit.

Prior to the bivouac a story circulated to our group that part of the activities would be a mock ambush and those caught would be detained as prisoners of war. So we were a bit terrified but at the same curious and excited at how it would go about.

The venue was somewhere between Cortes and Antequera. Like soldiers on foot patrol, we marched by two’s to reach the place. As soon as we reached our destination, we immediately pitched our tent.

The whole weekend turned out to be fun and exciting, especially on the second night when words spread out that our camp would be raided by a special team and those caught will be taken as prisoners. In order not to be caught with our pants down, our Company Commander from the Divine Word College, instructed us to prepare for a quiet pull out at 24:00 hours. The instruction was to move out one by one and bring only the necessary things we needed for the night and leave the other things behind. Like real soldiers, we executed the plan very well and moved quietly to a place we felt we were already safe from the raiding team.

If I remember it right we slept on a rice field which was already dry because summer time was then starting. Few minutes after we lied down to sleep, we heard a familiar voice calling the name of our Company Commander. “Asa mo?” It was Ceril, our Battalion Commander, who was so worried why we were gone. When he found us, he was so mad and instructed our Company Commander to bring us back to our camp.

The bivouac ended without the rumored ambush or raid taking place. We returned to the seminary very tired but happy.

Although at the beginning we really disliked CMT, we learned later on to accept it as an important requirement we had to take. We knew we could not graduate if we would not take it. As time went by, Saturday afternoon became just one of the ordinary and routine schedule we would do in the seminary. (Soc)