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Pedro Baban: The First Igorot General and Pilot

Pedro C. Baban, a World War 2 veteran from La Trinidad, Benguet, was the first Ibaloi-Igorot General and Pilot in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

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PEDRO C. BABAN, first Igorot General and Pilot, WWII Veteran | 66th Infantry, USAFIP-NL
PEDRO C. BABAN, first Igorot General and Pilot, WWII Veteran 66th Infantry, USAFIP-NL

Brigadier General Pedro C. Baban, from La Trinidad, Benguet, was the first Ibaloi-Igorot to obtain the rank of a General in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He is a World War 2 veteran who saw the action in the liberation of Benguet and he also holds the distinction as the first Igorot pilot.

B/Gen. Pedro Baban, a full-blooded Ibaloy and graduate of PMA Class 1940, is the country's first Igorot general.  He was a pilot and also fought bravely with the mighty 66th Infantry in WWII.  | Gaby Keith
B/Gen. Pedro Baban, a full-blooded Ibaloy and graduate of PMA Class 1940, is the country's first Igorot general. He was a pilot and also fought bravely with the mighty 66th Infantry in WWII. Gaby Keith

After the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth, the National Defense Act paved the way for the establishment of a brand new Philippine Military Academy. After a nationwide call for PMA recruits, nearly 10,000 young men responded. Only 120 reported as PMA plebees at Teacher Camp, Baguio City on June 15, 1936 - and only 79 made it to graduation.

The 1940 PMA batch had six "starmen" mentioned on the Superintendent's List for outstanding academic achievements - a record unbeatable for the next half century. Included in the list is Cadet Pedro Baban, who ran the 400-meter dash in 58.0 seconds, a record that lasted 30 years.

PMA Pioneer Class of 1940 as plebes in their drill uniforms. | Angkang Pilipino
PMA Pioneer Class of 1940 as plebes in their drill uniforms. Angkang Pilipino

The Class of 1940 also wrote the Honor Code, renamed the school publication "Corps", composed "PMA, Oh! Hail To Thee", and launched the "Peemay Slingo".

They graduated on March 15, 1940 and went to war nineteen months later.

Pedro Baban, a graduate of the 1940 PMA Class, joined the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC), now the Philippine Air Force (PAF). He also served as Commanding Officer of the 2nd Batallion, 66th Infantry Regiment, USAFIP-NL during World War II.

Brig. Gen. Pedro Baban of La-Trinidad, Benguet, first Ibaloi-Igorot General and Pilot | Nabartek Manen
Brig. Gen. Pedro Baban of La-Trinidad, Benguet, first Ibaloi-Igorot General and Pilot Nabartek Manen

The Ibaloi pride Baban also holds the distinction as the first Igorot pilot.

Trained as the best flyers of the time, the PAAC was the first unit of the Philippine Army drafted in the USAFFE.

What's remarkable is that the inducting officer was Gen. Douglas MacArthur himself who swore in the PAAC under the command of Maj. Basilio Fernando with his 141 air pilots, 17 ground O's, 1,200 EM's, and 64 planes.

Brigadier General Pedro Baban was married to Priscilla Baban, a former vice mayor of La Trinidad, Benguet.

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