Text & Photos: Gloria Hernandez Grejalde, Moscow
“It’s most boys’ dream,” was what Col. Dennis Francis V. Pastor said on how he became a soldier. A native of Cebu City, he said his goal was to serve the AFP with utmost professionalism.
A member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Tanglaw Diwa, batch 1992, Col. Pastor speaks highly of the PMA describing it as “the most prestigious educational institution in the Philippines that offers full scholarship.”
“It is a privilege to be part of an institution which is the foremost investment of the government in national security,” he enthused. He completed the mandatory military schooling required in the service to include the prestigious Scout Ranger Course.
He joined the Philippine Army and served in various capacities as platoon leader, company commander, and battalion commandeer in Samar, Basilan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Surigao, Agusan, and Bicol.
Prior to his deployment as the first ever DAFA in Russia on May 2018, he was assigned at the Intelligence Service of the AFP.
More than his military training and education, Col. Pastor tucked in his wings a master’s degree in Development and Security from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines (UP).
“It is a sad thing; it took us over 45 years before a DAFA is assigned here. We could have learned so much during the lost times,” he related.
History records show that the Philippines is the first country in the Far East where Russia established its consular relations in 1817. Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Philippines were established on June 2, 1976.
The assignment of the military attaché in Russia was in line with President Duterte’s drive to diversify Philippine connections to more countries other than the United States of America (USA) which has been the Philippines long time “ally.”
Dispensing his duty as the first DAFA is not without challenges but Col. Pastor said he has done enough to accomplish so much during the initial establishment of military cooperation with the Russian government.
Among which he said was the conduct of defense-military cooperation activities in Russia and in the Philippines such as high-level visits, participation in conferences, meetings and consultations, port visits of navy ships, and information exchanges.
“The historic visit of the Philippine Navy ship BRP Tarlac in October 2018 felt surreal. It was mesmerising,” Col. Pastor enthused. The ship docked at the Russian Pacific Fleets’ headquarters in Vladivostok. On board it is the 440-man contingent from the Naval Task Force 87.
Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta, Vice Consul Luningning Camoying, and Col. Pastor along with Russian representatives welcomed the arrival of the ship.
Another notable achievement was the negotiations for the procurement of defense material to continue modernize the AFP. He, however, said that despite some hitches due to continued Filipinos “American inclination,” he facilitated the signing of military cooperation and implementing agreements for the procurement.
In lieu of his end of duty in July 2022, Col. Pastor said that he looks forward to continued military relations and cooperation between Russia and the Philippines. “We could learn a lot from them in terms of strategy, technical expertise, and security,” he stressed.