The Call to Lead: How Girl Scouting Influenced Me

By Cadet 1st Class Joleen A Villagantol

A Girl Scout and a PMA Cadet



Do you still remember when you first thought of what you wanted to be when you grow up? Or, how you answered your elders when they asked you this question? Did you ever dream of becoming a pilot, a soldier, a doctor? Then, as you grew older, you realized there were more options that you could take – a teacher, perhaps? a business tycoon? a military general? Where we are now all began with a dream that we turned into reality.

When I was a child, I dreamt of becoming a businesswoman or a teacher. I remember playing a cashier with my drawers filled with guava leaves that served as 100 peso bills, guyabano leaves for 50 peso bills, and santan leaves for five peso bills. My brother, who was my playmate, didn’t have any choice but to keep buying my products, while he was playing his own mini tractors and robots. In the afternoon, when my younger cousin would arrive from school, I would call him and teach him basic arithmetic.

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Cadet 1st Class Villagantol with Dr. Cristina Lim-Yuson, GSP 1st National Vice-President

It was while growing up that I realized these dreams could actually change.  It began with joining encampments through the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP). At these encampments – from district level to national encampments – I learned about personal and community developments. The lessons I learned from these girl scouting events rekindled my interest in serving our community and our country. I became aware that our nation is in need of leaders, even young leaders, who could stand firm on their principles and voice out their beliefs. I realized, this is my calling –  to stand up and be a leader for this generation.

Being a leader runs in our family. My grandfather is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Philippine Constabulary. That was when I figured out that the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is an excellent place to bring back the name of our family to soldiery. This is also the best place for me to be molded, be equipped, and be trained to serve the country. PMA’s Mission: “To instruct, train, and develop the cadets, so that each graduate will possess the character, the broad, and the basic military skills and education essential to the successful pursuit of a progressive military career,”  provides one of the most essential foundations for developing leaders in our country, especially when one foresees to be part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

This intense desire to lead may seem idealistic, but really nerve wracking. Despite the obstacles, however, the desire to lead and serve continues to burn in my heart. I am being empowered by the leaders at the Academy and the alumni who achieve their personal life visions and also fulfill their commitment to the nation. I have had the privilege of meeting some of these Officers during Command gatherings and interactions, to mention a few: Supt. Lt. Gen. Ireneo C. Espino; Asst. Supt. Brig. Gen. Emeraldo C. Magnaye; and Cadet Commandant Brig. Gen. Carlos F. Quita. They are proof of the existence of leaders serving selflessly, with their feet on the ground, who love this country very much that they will continue to provide and build lasting foundation for new generations of leaders.

I learned from the life testimonies of the alumni of my beloved Alma Mater. Their presence and support will keep the desire to serve burning in my heart and in the hearts of the Cadet Corps. It was God’s calling that led me here and it all began with my first encampment as a Girl Scout.

Soon, it will be our generation’s turn to lead ourselves and this beloved country.  May we never hesitate to rise up, stand firm, and do our part;  in honor of the men and women who are now actively serving and setting countless examples of honest and service-filled leadership for the nation.