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About Rogelio Iroy Calunsag
« on: January 18, 2017, 04:02:35 PM »
Published: December 17, 2006 by The Bohol Standard
By Loreto "Loy" Palapos

Boholanos prosper admirably in all professions, be it derived from decade-long courses or instinctive inclinations and talents. By land or in the air, they excel even without caring for celebrity status. At sea they are at their best. It does not come as a surprise that the first recognized school for seamen was founded by a Boholano.

In the military hierarchy, most particularly in the Navy, a Boholano stood out in brilliance of performance that was spanned for 33 years. His devotion to his tasks earned him several recognitions and awards, but as far as Rear Admiral Rogelio I. Calunsag is concerned, they are only icing in the cake. He never asked for them, but were freely given as accolades for his exemplary performance which brought him all over the country and in some foreign shores. Being awarded one of the Ten Outstanding Boholanos Around the World (TOBAW) last July was another feather to his cap. Last Friday, December 8, he was promoted the new flag-officer-in-command of the Philippine Navy.

Rogelio Calunsag was born in Loay, Bohol on August 2, 1952. His father, Exequiel Calunsag, was involved in trading tobacco, which he sourced from Mindanao and retailed in Bohol. His mother, Emiliana Iroy, from Alburquerque, tended a store to help in the family upkeep. He is married to Imelda Benavides, a Nurse by profession, who was a Chief Nurse in the Perpetual Soccur Hospital, at the same time Head of the School of Nursing, until she resigned in 1987 to put up a placement agency for nurses and caregivers, most particularly in USA, Canada, Malaysia, and the Middle East.

The Calunsags are blessed with three children. The eldest, Rommel, finished BS Biology, and is now employed in a call center based in the Mall of Asia. Michelle took up Journalism, and now works in a Makati publishing house, involved in the production of books and magazines. The youngest, Joy, studied Foreign Service and, while preparing to take a consular examination, teaches nursery pupils in Fort Bonifacio.

Commodore Calunsag is a distinguished product of the Philippine public school system. He enrolled at the Alegria Elementary School in Loay, and was a government scholar at the Philippine Science High School at Dilliman where he derived his secondary education. In 1970 he passed the examination for admittance to the Philippine Military Academy where he finished Bachelor of Science in Military Sciences in 1974. He ranked ninth among 114 graduates.

He holds two masters degrees: Master of Science in Business Administration from the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School of Business in 1980, and Master in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines in 2000.

Right after his graduation from PMA, he experienced his “baptism of fire” as a young Philippine Marine Officer in the battlefields of Sulu during the campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 1974. Shortly thereafter he joined the Philippine Navy, rising through the ranks while at the same time honing his administrative and command skills at the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard (which was then attached to the Philippine Navy) headquarters as well as in various types of Philippine vessels.

He became the first commanding officer of BRP “Apolinario Mabini” (PS-36), one of three Peacock Class offshore patrol vessels that the Philippine Navy acquired from the British Royal Navy. Commodore Calunsag’s achievements in his Command at Sea were highlighted exemplary achievements when he became the Naval Task Force 41 Commander from 1998 to 1999. As Naval Task Force Commander, he was instrumental in safeguarding Philippine territorial waters and marine resources in Kalayaan Islands and Scarborough Shoal against maritime intruders, smugglers and marine poachers.

He had various special trainings abroad. In 1983 he was in Fort Bragg, New Connecticut, USA. He attended the General Staff Course “SESKOAL CL 33” in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2002 he went schooling in Monterey, California, USA.

Battle-tested and a prominent figure in time of peace, Commodore Calunsag is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, among them are: 4 Military Merit Medals, 7 Military Commendation Medals, 3 Campaign Medals for his distinguished service in the Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao, 2 Distinguished Service Stars, Presidential Unit Citation Badge and 6 other Badges, and other commendations from the Department of National Defense.

His services are not limited to his officially assigned tasks. He participated in numerous search and rescue operations of vessels and persons lost at sea, and several disaster relief and rehabilitation missions in many parts of the country. From 1989 to 1992 he arranged the repatriation of Filipino fishing crew-members in Indonesia. He also participated in several civic action programs such as environmental clean-up activities and projects, which brought him to the Manila Bay, Sangley Point in Cavite, Coregidor Island, and many other places in the nation. He initiated, as Commander of Navy Forces in Eastern Mindanao, the “cleaning and greening” of the naval headquarters in Sasa District, Davao City, and spearheaded the construction of “backyard fishpond” for tilapia breeding to augment the food supply and diet of camp personnel and members of their families.

Commodore Rogelio Iroy Calunsag was Assistant Chief of naval Staff of the Philippine Navy in 2002. In 2004 he was promoted Commander of the Assault Craft Force of the Philippine Fleet. On April 14, 2004 he was assigned Commander of the Naval Forces of Eastern Mindanao, and later, Naval Inspector General of the Philippine Navy with the rank of Rear Admiral.

It has been a long and tough grind for this living hero, both in war and in peace, from the moment he left the portals of PMA. His varied assignments brought him all over the country. His special mission to Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and some other nations, helped shape his determination to be of service to the nation he loves. His commitment to his responsibilities can only be equaled by his dedication to the oath he upholds all throughout the years. In the high position he now perches himself on, he can view a panorama that includes his struggles as a neophyte in a life-and-death drama that fiction cannot encompass. His reality is more intense than the ordinary man. More breath-taking, and more hazardous.

Nonetheless, on his lofty peak he has remained a God-loving naval top brass, aware that he is only an individual the Almighty has bestowed blessings on. This Rear Admiral of the Philippine Navy never forgets that he is a Boholano.

Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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