Women of the Philippine Army: Stepping up to the Challenge

In a male-dominated field, women are fiercely breaking the stereotype and leading the Philippine Army towards greatness. One after another, the achievements of women in the Army are surfacing and they proved to be a valuable asset in carrying out the Army’s mission.

Being a soldier is not easy, and being a woman in this field leads to many responsibilities not many of us can take but these Army women showed their excellence in their units and in serving the people and our country. Women rising up to the challenges and dominating not only proved the women’s excellence, they also serve as an inspiration to other women in the Philippine Army and young women of the new generation that they can lead and do the work just as good as the male.

Rising up despite the challenges, here are the women of the Philippine Army who succeeded in showing that women can do a great job as well as men.

Lt. Col. Leah L. Santiago proved this to be true when she became the first woman that leads an Army Artillery Battalion as the Commanding Officer. She is also a graduate of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1997, the class with the first batch with female in PMA history, as Summa Cum Laude.

After graduating with flying colors from the Command and General Staff Course, Santiago was then designated as the Battalion Commander of the 9th Field Artillery (FIRESTORM) Battalion (P), Army Artillery Regiment, Philippine Army which is attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Within a year, she was able to command and supervise a total of 645 fire missions in support to the maneuver units in Sulu Province that contributed to the neutralization of three (3) Abu Sayyaf Group members and permitted the voluntary surrender of three (3) rebels. She also served as the Fire Support Coordinator of the Joint Task Force Sulu and acted as an adviser to her superiors responsible for directing all Fire Support Operations.

Santiago also facilitated the conduct of various Civil Military Operations (CMO) in partnership with different units and stakeholders in the area such as the donation of classroom desks made from artillery ammo boxes to indigent schools.

“Dare to dream and Do It,” Santiago lives by these words as she aims for excellence in her field. She is still serving as a Battalion Commander and still inspiring her colleagues, both male and female, to strive in the workplace.

A woman known as “Babaeng Mandirigma” dominated the 4th Infantry Division as the first Company Commander in the Field Artillery to experience real battle in the campaign against the terrorists in Lanao Del Sur and Del Norte. Maj. Sharon Gomez-Orbon, despite being in a male dominated profession, is the first woman to be designated as Executive Office of Combat Field Units in the Philippine Army.

Orbon is also known for her charisma in the CMO field. She started her advocacy on Gender and Development (GAD) on 2011 by writing various articles, teaching, and cascading GAD in addition to her primary duty. Her efforts are part of the primary reason why GAD is included in the curriculum and came to realization in 2015.

With the position that was designated to Orbon, responsibilities are sure to follow. She is determined to take on the task and rise through the challenges that lies ahead.

These women are committed to their duty, causing them to shine even in an environment dominated by men. They are just the firsts of many more women that will bring honor to the Philippine Army and will lead us to a better nation. #