The passage of Republic Act No. 7192 granted women in the Philippines equal access to the service academies such that on April 1993, the first batch of female cadets were accepted by the Philippine Military Academy.
The number of female cadets accepted has since been limited to not more than 5 percent of the total number of cadets entering the Academy at any one time.
The selection and admission of female cadets into the Academy is similar to that required of their male counterparts. The only difference is in the height requirement where females must be at least 5 feet 2 inches in height as compared to males who are required to be at least 2 inches taller.
When applicants pass the written entrance examination, they are selected after thorough physical and neuro-psychiatric examinations and pre-cadet qualification interviews conducted at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center. Female appointees are not given any special treatment during these examinations.
One reason for accepting only a few female cadets is the limited availability of adequate facilities for women. The Philippine Military Academy all through these years has primarily been a school for men and it is understandable that changes could not be effected overnight.
Also, the military profession has always been a man's world and women have not generally been very keen and enthusiastic in being a part of it.
It has only been lately that women have started to venture into this rigorous Spartan way of life. The Academy recognizes this change in trend and is doing its best to provide equal opportunities for both men and women.
With the entrance of the female cadets, numerous adjustments needed to be done not only in the physical training but also in many other aspects to accomodate the very different needs of the female sex. From being a male-dominated bastion of military thought and tradition, the Academy is now home to both sexes.
The Physical Fitness Training had to be restudied to make it work for both sexes, new female barracks were constructed and female Tactical Officers were brought in. With the numerous changes that the Academy underwent, it is no wonder that because of the presence of women, the Academy has become a topic of public interest.
The female cadets also underwent basically the same training as their male counterparts. Whatever adjustments had to done were minimal. Trained to become future officers of the Armed Forces, they undergo the same physical fitness tests, made to walk the same rugged mountain trails and dusty roads during footmarches and attend the same academic classes as their classmates. No distinction is made between sexes in terms of punishments and demerits as well as rewards and merits.
Since women were accepted in 1993, female cadets have since graduated with the classes of 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000. The first female cadet to hold the distinction of graduating at the top of her class is Arlene A. Dela Cruz who belonged to the Class of 1999.
With what Arlene has accomplished as a cadet, this young Filipina woman was able to prove in just a short time that women were just as good and as qualified as their male counterparts ... and in her particular case, she has without doubt proven herself to be one of the top-notched cadets that the Philppine Military Academy has ever had.
On her graduation, Cadet Dela Cruz also received the following coveted awards: Presidential Saber, Philippine Navy Award, Navy Courses Plaque, Social Sciences Plaque, and the Humanities Plaque.
Just like their male counterparts, these female graduates were commissioned as regular officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Together with their male counterparts, they will stand among the revered alumni and be stalwart defenders of the Academy's ideals of courage, integrity, and loyalty.