P2LT Chariser Mari Macasing PA, a strong woman from Balbalan, Kalinga, graduated from the Officer Candidate Course (OCC) "Baghawian" Class 54-2020 with flying colors. She received the Heneral Antonio Luna Kampilan ng Kahusayan for graduating as the Top 2 with a general average of 92.12% in a class of 153 Officer Candidates.
She also received the Plake ng Lakas ng Lahing Kayumangi for obtaining the highest rating in Physical Fitness Test (PFT) with a general average of 97.70%.
The PFT is a tool to measure the Officer Candidates' strength in push-ups, sit-ups, and 3.2-kilometer runs. Indeed, she showed that in a profession dominated by men, a woman can be number 1.
P2LT Chariser Mari Macasing's inspiring story
Living with the notion that YKalingas are true blooded warriors made me proud of my roots. It felt like I acquired the strength and it is tattooed in my veins but to be honest, looking back in year 2017, I felt weak and quitting during the first two (2) weeks of my training as a candidate soldier of class 497-2017. A strong heart and mind plus the fact that I already handed my resignation letter to my previous job made me survive the physical pain and emotional stress of the training. I guess, being a warrior is not just seen through how brave and strong you are in the outside but also through having a strong faith to fight all the challenges that lies ahead. The power of mind over body is also a good reckoning in solving the matter.
I suddenly realized that thinking about quitting in the first two (2) weeks of the training will not compensate, not even a half of all the adversities that I have experienced since childhood.
I am P2LT CHARISER MARI MACASING OC-3807 PA and being the eldest daughter of Mr. Dominador Engay Miguel and Mrs. Ely Rose Macasing Miguel among the three (3) siblings and an orphan at the age of six (6) is not an easy life journey.
My mother died in Taiwan as she was a victim of human trafficking to the expense of her dream to give us the best education that we could have as my father that time is a contractual employee at DPWH which made her decided to work abroad as an OFW. My mother stayed for only 11 days abroad before the tragic incident happened and during those days, she was taken cared-off by her boss, she can eat whatever she wants, exercise and no household chores to be done.
A day before the incident, she already sensed that something will happen to her because even a single sip of water is not allowed that made her wrote a letter but cannot finish every sentence and the only sentence that she could finish was, "Mama, Papa, take care of my children."
After a year, because of what had happened to my mother, wherein her internal organs were removed and used for organ transplant, my father got sick due to depression. He was not able to recognize his own children and cannot take care of his own self. This made our elders decide that my father will stay with his parents while I and my siblings will be under the care of my grandparents from my mother's side.
A month before I turn 18, I felt that I am a failure because fate snatched one of my goals from me; my father died which denied me the chance to put him in a good medical facility to better cure him after I graduate and have a stable job.
During elementary, I hike the mountains and cross three (3) rivers every weekends for six (6) hours back and forth to sell coffee beans that I harvested and the money that I get from it will be used to buy supplies such as sugar, salt, dried fish, etc. that will sustain us for the week. In weekdays, I eat my packed lunch that was wrapped in a banana leaf with my classmates in the nearest river at Tawang Elementary School, Balbalan, Kalinga where I finished my primary education. After school, I go to the rice field and get edible snails, gabi and pako for our viand.
When the month of October approaches, I and my youngest sibling harvest ripe mandarin and sell it in the neighborhood. When I study at night, I felt the warmth of the lamp and sounds of crickets in the background. At an early age, I learn to live and survive which gave me the determination to finish my studies and laid me as the class valedictorian both in elementary and high school.
From the mountainous land of Kalinga, I travelled to Moncada, Tarlac because my grandparents are already old and it was decided that during high school and college, we will be under the care of our aunts and uncles. I finished my secondary education at San Julian Sta. Maria High School, Moncada, Tarlac. As always, I hurdled it in a not so easy way because living with relatives is hard especially that they also have their own children to support. In college, I even skip meals just to buy the needed materials for my projects and if there's an excess money, it made me happy since I can buy Sky Flakes to fill my stomach and fight the hunger. But this alone did not stop me to pursue my set goals, instead, it made me stronger, braver and independent.
I graduated at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa, Manila with the degree, Bachelor of Arts in English. During college, I am very thankful to God because even if I am working to support my studies, I was able to pass the Civil Service Professional Eligibility. I was a student assistant at PUP College of Law which paved way for me to get a recommendation and be hired as a casual employee a month before my graduation. I grabbed the opportunity since the competition in agencies and companies is very high, it is practical and who am I to take down the offer since I have siblings who are still studying and I do not want them to experience the difficulties that I had in college. I want them to focus only with their studies, I want to give them what my mother dreamt-off that made her sacrifice her life; a better education.
I worked for four (4) years and three (3) months at PUP and in my sixth-month at work, I felt idle so I decided to enroll in the PUP Open University System with the degree, Master in Educational Management (MEM). After my youngest sibling finished her studies and passed her board examinations, I then decided to take the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) since I already earned 18 units in Education as prerequisite in MEM. I passed the LET through God's grace but I suddenly had a change of heart. Instead of teaching, I shifted to another and equally noble profession which is the military profession. As I stayed longer in the institution, I realized that I wanted to do more for our country and my search for a stable job and family influence made me apply for Candidate Soldier Course Class 497-2017. It was a rigorous 4 months and 2 weeks training and I managed to be the top 2 among the 185 candidate soldiers of our class.
I served the Philippine Army as an Enlisted Personnel for 2 years and 3 months prior to my application as one (1) among the 173 recruits to be trained and be part of the Officer Candidate Course Class 54-2020. I was assigned at the Army Intelligence Regiment, Philippine Army (AIR, PA) and placed on detached service at the 103rd Infantry "Haribon" Brigade, 1ID, PA for eight (8) months as part of the Battalion Integration Training (BIT) of AIR, PA. I experienced how infantry life is as the brigade let us actively participate in most of its missions. I was augmented as security element during the Special Elections in Marawi City, Plebiscite Review of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, and participated in the series conduct of Youth Leadership Summit of the 49th Infantry Battalion, 9ID, PA in the municipalities of Lanao del Sur are some of the notable experiences I had. After the BIT, we were hauled back to AIR, PA and I was assigned at OG1, AIR, PA for eight (8) months. I was reassigned at the Civil Military Operations Regiment, Philippine Army for two (2) months and the unit gave me the chance and recommendation to apply for OCC CL 54-2020.
Growing up without parents is tough but I thank God because I and my siblings strive and never surrender. We did not take it as a hindrance to have a better life. My younger brother is now a soldier assigned at 2ID, PA while our youngest sister runs her own business in Tabuk City, Kalinga. With all the hardships that I experienced since childhood, I know that those are plans and ways of God to prepare me spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically to be a leader of the Philippine Army to perform my duty in serving the people and securing the land.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - Philippians 4:13