How I Passed ROTC
by Oliver Carlos
During my time, the Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC) was a required subject in college. A student needs to take it in 4 installments, meaning, 4 semesters. It’s plotted on the first four semesters of our curriculum. We’re supposed to take it in our freshman and sophomore years. The schedule was every Saturday, from 7 AM to 12 PM. We call a session a “Drill Day.” There will be 16 drill days in one semester, or 64 drill days all in all. Oh, by the way, 4 of those were called “Drill Nights.” Those were times when we were required to buy a ticket to a dance party sponsored by the ROTC Corps. There’s no drill day for that week as the drill night replaces it. This happens once a semester. So there’s just 60 drill days in all.
ROTC was such a dreaded subject then, and I guess until now. Maybe 90% of the students (my conservative estimate) hated it. Most probably because of the military discipline rammed down on the cadets who were 16- and 17-year-old university students. It’s not in their mindset that they are soldiers, but rather students trying to earn a degree and become a civilian worker in the labor force. Thus, most people find it irrelevant. Many of us didn’t like standing up in the middle of the field under the hot morning sun. Once in a while, we march, salute, and do push-ups. Everything we do seems meaningless, but we can’t do anything about it, so we just have to endure those 60 drill days.
Students in my time tried to evade or get exempted in ROTC. But since this subject was mandated by law, the best they can do was just delay it or take it in their last 4 semesters. They didn’t realize that that’s a tougher option as one’s subjects were more tedious in the junior and senior years. That’s the time when students conduct and write their thesis. As for me, I took ROTC in my 1st and 2nd years in college so I could concentrate on my major subjects later on.
Today, as I look back, I get amazed at how I was able to get past such a difficult part of my life, how I was able to endure ROTC. Here’s how it happened:
Every drill day, I imagined myself being in my high school COCC (Cadet Officers’ Candidacy Course). That’s the gruel-some 1-year course to become a lieutenant in the CAT (Citizen’s Army Training). The COCC is tougher than the ROTC by leaps and bounds. While ROTC is just 4 hours every Saturday, COCC is a daily thing for one whole year, including weekends. In essence, the road to being a lieutenant in high school is more difficult than being a private in college.
In COCC, we were treated like PMA cadets. Discipline was stricter, and if you’re lousy, you’ll do push-ups. A hundred push-ups a day was just a normal thing. Meanwhile, in ROTC, the worst that could happen is just get soaked under the sun for 4 hours, and that’s it. So while my platoon-mates grumble endlessly as we were doing our drills or standing in formation, I just took things lightly. I’m smiling behind my tiger-look, soldier’s face. I knew that what I’m doing in ROTC was so much easier than what I went through in high school.
For the record, I actually didn’t survive my high school COCC. After about a couple of months of it, I quit. I couldn’t take the hardship. But at least I was able to endure 2 months of daily tribulations. So, when I stepped into college and took up ROTC, it’s seems like that subject was a walk in the park. It was easy-breezy.
In life, the hardships we go through are actually beneficial to us. One day, we will undergo bigger trials. Our past experiences will come in handy. The Apostle Paul explains this in Romans 5:3–4 (ICB):
“And we also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope.”
According to this verse, my COCC days have somehow developed in me patience, a strong character, and an ability to hope. This made me survive ROTC.
My friend, what trial or hardship are you going thru right now? Don’t be sad and gloomy about it. Think that God is just molding your character with it. You will be a better person once it’s over. Rejoice knowing that God is with you and he will give you the grace to grow under such circumstance.