2nd Lieutenant Catherine Mae Emeterio Gonzales, who was among the Top 10 graduates of the Philippine Military Academy in 2017, is the first woman pilot aviator from the Philippine Air Force to be selected for the Aviation Leadership Program (ALP) in the United States.
Gonzales, the daughter of a carpenter from Pagadian City, will attend the ALP from February 2018 to May 2019, where she will receive 164 hours of flight training in the T-6A Texan II aircraft, as well as 239 hours of flight operations ground training.
She was selected by the Philippine Air Force selection board to attend the ALP.
Gonzales was one of 8 female graduates of the PMA Salaknib Class of 2017 who landed in the Top 10. Although they were from Pagadian, the Gonzaleses transferred to Zamboanga City when Catherine Mae enrolled at the Western Mindanao State University.
Eight women graduated top of their class at the country’s premier military school.
The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 2017 is led by a female valedictorian, Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez of Cabanatuan City.
The PMA Salaknib (“Sanggalang ay Lakas at Bukay Para sa Kalayaan ng Inang Bayan”) Class of 2017 top 10 are as follows:
1. Rovi Mairel Valino Martinez, Cabanatuan City
2. Philip Modesto Viscaya, Ligao City, Albay
3. Eda Glis Buansi Marapao, Baguio City
4. Cathleen Jovie Santiano Baybayan, San Fernando, Pampanga
5. Carlo Emmanuel Manalasan, Canlas, Pampanga
6. Shiela Joy Ramiro Jallorina, Bagabag, Nueva Viscaya
7. Sheil Marie Calonge De Guzman, Manaoag, Pangasinan
8. Joyzy Mencias Funchica, Butuan City
9. Resie Jezreel Arrocena Hucalla, Compostella Valley
10.Catherine Mae Emeterio Gonzales, Zamboanga City
She said that her decision to become the first woman pilot was inspired by the 2013 Zamboanga siege, where she witnessed how the military air force won the battle.
“Since then, I started to dream of becoming a pilot,” Gonzales said. “During those times, I really felt a great eagerness to defend my hometown, and I thought I could be of great help to that mission from above, since insurgents are vulnerable from this point.”
“Serving my country as a female officer shows how the military profession has matured and opened for great changes by allowing us, female officers, to lead,” she added.
Prior to Catherine Mae’s graduation from PMA, the Gonzaleses were considered “indigents” of Zambowood Barangay.
The Aviation Leadership Program was established to provide pilot training, related training and information exchange to air force personnel in allied developing states with the purpose to support their aviation expertise and defense institution building.
Interestingly, once she finishes training in 2019, she could actually be ready to undergo transition training to the Embraer A-26B Super Tucano, which the PAF is expected to receive starting late next year.
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