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Evolution, Myths and Traditions of the Gala Uniform

Due to lack of accepted written standards pertaining to the tradition of the new gala uniform, different ruling classes were left to their own devices to freely introduce changes to its original version. A few years after 1954, some noticeable changes were:

  • Cadet officers no longer tack their rank pins on the 'golden crown' cuffs.
  • Cross-bands were introduced to the model and band units.
  • The Band leader's tunic was no longer tacked in.
  • The Model Cadet's black cuffs were decorated by a gold lining placed a few millimeters below the white lining.
  • Also with the Model Cadet's gala, a golden patch overlapping the class bars was added above the black cuffs. Rather than resemble a crown, this version resembles an arrow pointing to the rear with an inner lining of black and an outer lining of white.

Sometime in the 1960s, cadet officers used red chevrons with white lining to indicate designation (Platoon Leader to Corps Commander). The Corps Commander used a red pom-pom on the upper left side of the shako. Pom-poms were used to mimic the plumes worn by Officers of the Buckingham Palace Guards. The use of fourragere or aiguillette was introduced. The 'golden crowns' of the cuffs were misplaced a few centimeters above the edge of the sleeves. As of this writing, the myth of the 'Letter-to-the-Queen' can be traced as early as this period. We have yet no details when it really started. The 1970s saw the introduction of braids (borlas) hanging across the commanders' shakos. The chevron's color changed to golden-yellow with black lining. It was also around this period that the gala overseas-cap, originally designed by Luzmindo Fajardo, came to be known as Thunderbird.

The late 1960s up to the early part of the martial law era saw a rise in numbers of cadet officers. They were so many most cadet officers didn't have designated command or staff positions. These 'position-less' cadet officers occupied the ranks of the Model unit which was once purely composed of ranker cadets (C/Pvt - C/Msgt). The later years of the martial law era saw a decline in popularity of the military. Fewer cadets were joining the ranks of the cadet officers. The Model unit, once again composed of ranker cadets, was reduced from a battalion (of three companies of two platoons) to a single company (of two platoons).

In the late 1980s, the Long Red Line of the Model unit was almost lost. There was a popular belief among cadet officers that only them were allowed to wear the Buckingham-style gala uniform and that cadet officer aspirants need to undergo a certain form of 'recognition' ritual before they can be allowed to wear the gala uniform. Perhaps it was also during this time that the officers' tradition of the First Wearing came to be in existence. To date, the following rules and policies are more-or-less still observed by cadet officers when in their gala uniform:

  • A cadet officer candidate must first undergo a certain 'recognition' ceremony before he be allowed to wear the uniform.
  • That a cadet officer wearing the gala uniform for the first time should be 'congratulated' by all other cadet officers who had worn the uniform before.
  • When not wearing the uniform, it must be properly and totally concealed. Not a single part of it should be exposed.
  • One must not bee seen by anyone when donning the uniform except by fellow cadet officers, cadet officer candidates, model cadets, or lady sponsors.
  • When in the uniform, one is not allowed to make unnecessary chatter.
  • When in the uniform, one is not allowed to bend or bow. If an officer in gala accidentally drops his sword or if any of his paraphernalia fell off from his uniform, there must be a runner to pick it up for him.
  • When in the uniform, one is not allowed to show emotions. This includes smiling, laughing, nor making facial expressions when something went wrong (during ceremonies for example).
  • When in the uniform, one is not allowed to run nor march on double-time as this degrades the uniform.
  • When in gala formations other than parades, one must always be with his assigned 'buddy'.
These practices have been understandably accumulated through years. The first time the red gala uniform was worn, however, the rules were more practical and simple. Back then, wearing of the uniform simply demanded neatness of appearance, prescribed hair-cut, good fit, shined brass, authorized accoutrements and insignia, and wearing of head-gear at all times when outdoors. Riding a public transportation in gala uniform was (and still is) a major 'no-no'!

Around the same era up to 1994, the Corps Commander used a yellow pom-pom on the upper right side of the shako to signify his position. His staff and immediate subordinate commanders wore white pom-poms. All pom-poms were worn on the right upper portion of the shako until 1991 when cadet officers formulated a standard to distinguish command positions from staff positions. Cadet Officers with staff position wore their pom-poms on the left. The Corps Commander's staff and brigade commanders wore red pom-poms, while battalion commanders and company commanders wore white pom-poms. Tassels (borlas) were worn in the following order (top-to-bottom):

  Pom-pom/Plume Braids (Borlas)
Corps Commander Yellow on right Yellow, White, Red
Corps Staff Red on left Red, Yellow, White
Brigade Commanders Red on right Red, Yellow, White
Brigade Staff White on left White
Battalion Commanders White on right White, Red
Battalion Staff None White
Company Commanders None None
Company Ex-Os None None

On October 1988, the solid will of the Commandant, Lt Col Rosendo A Abinoja (a product of Mapua ROTC), to revive the Long Red Line he once so admired, managed to get the cooperation of the school administration to supply the Model Company with free gala uniforms. However, the gala uniforms supplied by the administration were produced en masse and were patterned after the cadet officers' version of the gala (with gold collar and golden crown cuffing). The original design of the Model unit's gala was lost. On March 1989, cadet officers tacked their rank pins above the black shoulder strap. Around summer time of the same year, it was no longer practiced. From 1992 to 1995, some cadet officers can be seen placing black-strap underneath the gold-chain of the shako to highlight the chain especially during evening parades. In 1993, cadet officers replaced the white gloves with black. The white gloves were restored the following year.

In 1993, the commandant, Major Reynaldo Sucgang, himself a graduate of the UST Advance ROTC Class 1972, introduced the use of white 'jinete'-helmets for the Model units. Cadet Officers did not welcome this change warmly and so the following year, 1994, the Corps with a new commandant, thrashed the use of the 'jinete'-helmets. Around 1995 to 1996, the use of the red pom-pom and the yellow pom-pom was interchanged. Sometime around 1998 to 1999, the Model unit was made to use overseas-cap, similar to the 1954 version without the yellow pom-pom. In 1999, the cadet officers moved the chevron's tip an inch higher above the black shoulder strap. They believe this to be the standard since most ROTC units and even the PMA wear their chevrons in this manner. The black shoulder strap spelled the difference. The gala units of other schools do not have shoulder straps on their uniforms and so after three years, the chevron's position was restored to its original location.

As early as 1998, some cadet officers can be seen wearing black collars instead of the usual gold. They thought this to be the most accurate resemblance of the Buckingham Palace Guards.Buckingham Palace Guards - Welsh Regiment By the year 2000, almost all cadet officers sport black collars in their gala uniform. Had they known that officers of the real Buckingham Palace 'Foot Guards' wear golden collars to distinguish themselves from the rank-and-file guards wearing black collars, the change would not have occurred. Gold 'liwayway' buttons were also introduced above the white zipper lining of the red tunic. The golden crown cuffing no longer resembles a crown. Its three sections have been reduced to two! It was, however, realigned with the edge of the sleeves. The white lining of the crown was also changed to gold. In 2003, the cadet officers, becoming more aware of their historical roots, removed the 'liwayway' buttons that was recently introduced. Financial difficulties prevent the current cadet officers from changing the black collar back to gold. Since the turn of the new millennium, the elite Long Red Line Model (ala Buckingham Palace Guards) unit was all but history.

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