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Fil-Am West Pointer urges ‘mestizos’ to come home, join AFP

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:37:00 07/03/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino-American West Point graduate called on his fellow “mestizos” (Filipinos of mixed blood) around the world to return and serve their homeland by joining the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

It doesn’t matter if they don’t look Filipino, the important thing is they remain Filipinos at heart, said Second Lieutenant Mario Feliciano, who graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.

Feliciano’s father is a native of Zamboanga City, his mother is Iranian. He grew up in Kuwait. Armed Forces chief General Alexander Yano described him as “Filipino by choice.”

“I just hope that this act, by my actions, joining the AFP, [being of] service to the nation, will help inspire other mestizos out there around the world because I know there are millions of us out there,” Feliciano said.

“You don’t have to look Filipino. Ang puso mo Pinoy, pinoy ka talaga [If your heart is Filipino, you are a true Filipino],” he said.

Feliciano and four other Filipinos who graduated from US military academies this year, called on Yano in Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, after they formally enlisted in the AFP.

Feliciano and fellow West Pointer Christy Isis Achansar, the first Filipina to graduate from the prestigious military school, joined the Philippine Army.

Ensigns Carl Roy Catalan and Amando Berjuega, who graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, joined the Philippine Navy.

Second Lieutenant Mario Mendoza, who graduated from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, joined the Philippine Air Force.

Alchansar said her West Point stint proved that: “What male soldiers can do, female soldiers can do too.”

“We do not necessarily [recognize a] double standard [at West Point], but they also consider the capability of females when they are assigned difficult tasks… It’s basically doable, don’t be afraid to try,” she said.

Mendoza said his stay at the US Air Force Academy proved the Filipino’s grit and strength of character.

“Filipinos are the best…In the Philippines, even if they’re not eating three times a day, they are still getting their job done,” he said, adding that in contrast, with their American counterparts, “You don’t give them all the benefits, oh my God, you can see them all like

Catalan agreed, saying, “They really complain a lot and you need to provide everything that they need for them to do their job or else they won’t do it.”

But Mendoza was all praises for American soldiers’ “professionalism,” doing their work “by the book.”

The five junior officers join the ranks of graduates of US military academies who joined the AFP, including former president Fidel Ramos, former AFP chief of staff Narciso Abaya, and Brigadier General Danilo Lim, one of the 28 officers on trial for mutiny before a court martial over an alleged coup plot in February 2006.

Ramos, Abaya, and Lim are West Point alumni.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-07-03T10:17:37+00:00UTC07bUTCThu, 03 Jul 2008 10:17:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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