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(A Valedictory Address)

Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines.

February 16, 2006 will be a significant milestone in the history of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1971. Vice-Admiral Ariston Delos Reyes '71, the AFP Vice-Chief of Staff, will reach his mandatory retirement at the age of 56. His retirement will mark the end of the active military/police services of the entire Class of 1971. This Class, that includes Senators Ping Lacson and Gregorio Honasan, is one of the more known classes of the Philippine Military Academy.

Class of 1971, for a long time, has been the target of the most deliberate vicious attacks from the media, politicians, public, and PMA cavaliers included. The storm that was induced had been so strong leaving many skeptics to believe its imminent downfall. Yet, PMA Class '71 as a whole weathered the storm and hence lived up to its class name of "Matatag" - the Filipino tagalog word for firm, steady, unyielding.

The critics could not forever hide from the Filipino people the truth - and true nature of PMA Class '71. In many ways, the Class was exceptional in their successful roles as military leaders, government managers, politicians, business leaders, and professionals. The impact of these tangible accomplishments of the Matatags in serving the interest and welfare of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in particular, and the Filipino nation, in general, would be felt if not today then tomorrow.

It is then a wonder how the Matatags have emerged triumphant and winners under these difficult circumstances.


One hundred forty eight (148) ambitious and confused young men, belonging to Class 1971, entered the Philippine Military Academy as plebes on April 1, 1967. For the beast barracks, they were billeted at the summer camp field near Borromeo Field. The big welcome sign conspicuously displayed atop its entrance that read – “From This Camp Shall Emerge the Future Generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines” - was prophetic.

After four years of Saturday parades and inspections, field training exercises, and military and academic classes, one hundred nine (109) Matatags, now composed of the eighty four (84) remaining original members and joined by twenty five (25) others who formerly belonged to classes ’70, ‘69 and ‘68, graduated on April 2, 1971. They were conferred the degree of Bachelor of Science, including Cadet Wilfredo Tapia who was posthumously graduated. He succumbed to leukemia exactly a month before graduation. His grieving mother was there to receive the diploma for him. Except for Willy Tapia, they were all commissioned as second lieutenants/ensigns. Second Lieutenant Narciso Abaya, West Point ’71 and Navy Ensign Bienvenido Alano, US Naval Academy Annapolis ‘71, who both started their cadet days at PMA, opted to become regular members of PMA Class ’71 upon their graduation from the US Military Services schools in 1971.

Matatags who led army and constabulary ground troops distinguished themselves as junior officers during the heat of the insurgency battles in Mindanao in the 1970’s. Their young and dashing pilots experienced bullets whizzing by their heads in an air-to-ground-to-air firefight. They flew dangerous missions like troop (air) movements, re-supply, air evacuation, night flying, weather flying, flare drops, and close air-to-ground support. The navy group sailed along the shorelines of Zamboanga and Sulu providing naval support to ground troops.

In the battlefronts, then Second Lieutenants Gregorio Honasan and Romeo Dominguez almost lost their legs in separate encounters in Mindanao in 1973. Also wounded-in-action (WiA) in the same year were: 2nd Lieutenants Rafael Galvez and Johnny Velasco. Lieutenants Antonio Duran and Manuel Nartatez had made their ultimate sacrifice – they both died young in Mindanao fighting insurgency for the country and the people. Lieutenant Librado Ladia ’72, who later rose to become Marine Commandant, would be forever grateful to Lieutenant Nolan Ramos for saving his life. Ironically, Lieutenant Ramos could not save his own life when the C-47 aircraft he was piloting crashed in Subic Bay. The promising career of the only jet fighter pilot then of the Air Force group, Lieutenant Reynaldo Doria, was cut short abruptly by an accident.

During the middle years, the Matatags, as military professionals, focused on the struggle to reform the service, foster nationalism and patriotism, and fight against corruption and criminal activities. Problems of favoritism, incompetence, and corruption in senior leadership were exposed.

“We Belong”.

With that slogan, they spearheaded and inspired the reform movement of the armed forces. There were ups and downs. Yet, they remained steadfast in moving forward. A few bogged down along the way. Some lost steam.

But they marched on!


Boldly, some members participated in political partisan activities to bring about reform and changes. Ideas and values clashed among Matatags as to the merits of this approach. There emerged no official or single class stand. The consensus - they agreed to disagree. To the extreme, a few brave members of their class had to sacrifice their military career to change the political landscape of the country – Colonel (Ret) Gregorio Honasan, Colonel (Ret) Eduardo Kapunan, Colonel (Ret) Tito Legaspi, Colonel (Ret) Rafael Galvez, and Colonel (Ret) Melchor Acosta. These were the men who could have been top generals of the class. The initial result of the approach was very encouraging, as people treated them as heroes of the February Revolution in 1986, but eventually became sour when people’s perception turned negative. The class reputation suffered.

From then on, it was a steep climb for the Class to surmount.

Their senior years rolled on but not without controversies. Brigadier General Romeo Dominguez was falsely accused of “collusion with the enemy” in 2001 at Lamitan, Basilan. This issue had tested his strength and character and stretched his dedication to public service. “Just as his integrity as a military officer was being questioned and put under trial by publicity, friends in the military, former superiors, colleagues and civilian friends expressed support and sympathy in an outpouring that was surprising even to himself.”

Later, the Senate and the House in a separate investigation absolved now Lieutenant General Romeo Dominguez of any wrongdoing. The issue was formally closed by AFP Inspector General, Rear Admiral Edgardo Israel in September, 2003.

Apparently, the path leading to this culmination of the Matatags’ military service was not that rosy and easy. It could be pleasant but most of the times thorny. It was strayed with tears and laughter, blood and sweat, jubilations, accomplishments, controversies, frustrations, biased reporting, heckling, and sometimes humiliation. For decades, the Class was under the scrutiny of military and government leaderships, private groups and the public. As a consequence of the distorted facts that abounded, the Class was subjected to bias reporting from the media. Unfairly, they were singled out and monitored. Any news and developments pertaining to any members of the Class were deliberately followed-up and magnified.

Yet, the Matatags’ men in uniform, emboldened by the injustice being done to them, bravely met the nonbelievers head on with more determination, conviction and perseverance.



And convinced! -

They did their best observing the proud heritage, glorious traditions, and noble standard of the Philippine Military Academy.


One could not just put down and ignore good men.

Despite persistent effort to discredit the Class, forty-five out of 111 (or 41%) rose to attain the rank of brigadier general and up to the highest rank of general/director general. General Narciso Abaya served as Chief of Staff, AFP despite being a regular member of PMA Class ’71. Two Matatags served as Chief, Philippine National Police: Director General (now senator) Panfilo Lacson and Director General Edgardo Aglipay.

Matatags rose to top command and staff posts of the army, navy, air force and police. The most prominent among them and their respective ranks and positions last held were:

Vice Admiral Ariston Delos Reyes

Vice Chief of Staff, AFP

Vice Admiral Ruben Domingo

Commander, Western Command

Lieutenant General Romeo Dominguez

Commander, Northern Luzon Command

Deputy Director General Rex Piad

Chief, Directorial Staff, PNP

Deputy Director General Virtus Gil

PNP Deputy Chief for Administration

Deputy Dir General Reynaldo Velasco

PNP Deputy Chief for Administration

Deputy Director Ricardo De Leon

PNP Deputy Chief for Administration

Major General Reynaldo Rivera

J-9, AFP

Major General Diosdado Tabamo


Major General Neon Ebuen

Commandant, JCSC

Major General Arcadio Seron

Vice Commander, Philippine Air Force

Major General Edwin Galzote

The Inspector General, AFP

Major General General Reynaldo Alcasid

Division Commander, 5th Infantry Div, PA

Major General Cicero Castellano

J-4, General Headquarters, AFP

Major General Carlos Garcia

J-6, General Headquarters, AFP

Rear Admiral Jack Tan

Vice Commander, Philippine Navy

Police Director Jaime Dela Cruz

Director, Directorate for Logistics, HPNP

Police Director Jose Lalisan

Director, Directorate for Pers and Records PNP

Police Director Hercules Cataluna

Directorate for Plan, PNP

Police Director Eduardo Matillano

Director, DIDM, HPNP

Police Director Ruben Cabagnot

Deputy, Internal Affairs Office PNP

Police Director Victor Batac

Director, Directorate for Logistics,PNP

Police Director Reynaldo Acop

Director for Personnel and Record Management PNP

Brigadier General Edgar Elona

Wing Commander, Villamor Air Base, PAF

Brigadier General Cesar Gopilan

Deputy Commander, CENCOM

Brigadier Genera Ernesto Lumang

Deputy Commander, SOLCOM, GHQ

Brigadier General Rudolfo Vasquez

Chief of Army Staff, HQs. Philippine Army

Brigadier General Jaime Canatoy

Commander, Air Reserve Command

Brigadier General Danilo Francia

Wing Commander, 15th Strike Wing, PAF

Brigadier General Lamberto Sillona

Wing Commander, 410 AMW, PAF

Brigadier General Nelson Eslao


Brigadier General Prospero Ocampo

Palawan 570 CTW Commander

Police Director Rolando Garcia

Director, Philippine Center for Transnational Crimes

Police Director Dominador Domingo

Police Director, PRO 9, PNP

Police Director Renato Paredes

Director, PNP Traffic Management Group

Police Chief Superintendent Teodorico Viduya

Dep Director, Dir -r Pers and Record Mgmt PNP

Police Chief Superintendent Jose Ayap


Polcie Chief Superintendent Francisco Zubia

Director, CIDG PNP

Colonel Ralph Flores

Head, Air Force Logistics Command

Colonel Jerry Albano

Chief, Special Services of GHQ

Colonel Levy Zamora

Brigade Commander, 5ID

Colonel Artemio Lim

Dep Wing Commander, 420th Supply Wing, CABCOM

Colonel Marte Chioco


Colonel Rolando Malinis

Deputy Asst Secretary of Defense for Installations and Logistics, DND

Notables among the honorary members were: Lieutenant General Al Dagudag, Commander, Southern Luzon Command, Brigadier Generals Eduardo Purificacion and Tadeo Claravall, both former Dean of the Corps of Professors, PMA.

Credits went also to the 49 Matatags who retired or resigned earlier for the productive services they rendered to the armed forces.

The honor brought to the Class and country by eleven (11) Matatags who already died would not be forgotten. They eulogized for the late Cadet Wilfredo Tapia, 2nd Lieutenant Antonio Duran, 2nd Lieutenant Manuel Nartatez, 1st Lieutenants Reynaldo Doria and Nolan Ramos, Major Nonito Dallo, Major Benjamin Casabar, Cdr Amable Costales, Lieutenant Colonel Ceferino Sarmenta, Jr, Police Superintendent Edwin Cuenco and Colonel Franklin Brawner.

Last February 16, 2006, the sun had set for the Matatags in the active military/police service. The last salute was executed by Vice Admiral Delos Reyes in behalf of PMA Class 1971. No more donning of snappy military/police white ducks and uniforms. Back to civilian life again. The Matatag story, however, was not destined to end. Not yet! Golden times with spouses, children and now grandchildren were on hold. They would remain committed to continue to work, honor and serve this country and race by being an epitome of a proud and successful Filipino in any undertakings it seeks in.

The mission goes on in another era and arena.


The presence of the Matatags should continue to be felt in various high and sensitive positions in different government offices. Members belonging to them are still holding the following positions:

Senator Panfilo Lacson – Philippine Senate;
Attorney Zosimo Paredes II - Executive Director, Visiting Forces Agreement Committee (rank of Undersecretary) and Special Assistant to the President;
Deputy Director General (Ret) Virtus Gil – Deputy Director of the National Security Council;
Ambassador Marciano Paynor, Jr. - Consul General at LA Consulate and at the same time Presidential Consultant on Presidential Visits;
Attorney Roberto Sacramento – Custom Collector, Cagayan De Oro City Port, Bureau of Customs;
General Narciso Abaya(Ret) – CEO Bases Conversion Development Authority;
Colonel (Ret) Roberto Navida – President/CEO Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation (PADC);
Major General (Ret) Neon Ebuen – Vice President, PADC;
Brigadier General(Ret) Lamberto Sillona – Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations and Logistics, Department of Defense;
Deputy Director General Ricardo De Leon – President, Mindanao State University;
Brigadier General(Ret) Danilo Francia – President and CEO of Clark International Airport Corporation;
Colonel(Ret) Alex Lasan – Regional Manager MBAI;
Police Director(Ret) Efren Fernandez – Executive Director, Dangerous Drugs Board, Office of the President (USEC);
Vice-Admiral(Ret) Aris delos Reyes - Undersecretary, Department of National Defense (DND)
Director General (Ret) Egay Aglipay - President, Philippine Retirement Authority
Police Director(Ret) Rolly Garcia - Under-Secretary, Transnational Crime and
Colonel(Ret) Marte Chioco – Deputy Director General of NICA.

Not to be forgotten is Secretary Roberto Pagdanganan, an honorary member of the Class, who is now the Head of Philippine International Trading Corp (PITC) with rank of cabinet secretary.


Additionally, the Class is proud of its achievements in governance that is hard to match.

The Class produced a member with presidential caliber – Senator Panfilo Lacson. He ran for president in 2004 offering the people his boldness, tenacity, dedication, and commitment to fight crimes and clear the government of graft and corruption. He might have not won the election, yet as a senator he has continued to keep the spirit alive in fighting government graft and corruption, in the process endearing him to many patriotic Filipinos and cavaliers as well. Many were inspired by his golden principle - What is right, must be kept right. What is wrong must be set right.

PMA Class ‘71 still hold that distinction of being the only class with two senators, serving at the same time, in the Philippine Senate – in the persons of Senators Ping Lacson and Greg Honasan. Attorney Zosimo Paredes II, the first duly elected official of the Class, served earlier as Assemblyman of the Old Batasang Pambansa.

A few others turned to politics too to continue its quest for service, reform, and changes, banking on their experiences and quality of characters they acquired from the Philippine Military Academy. Police Director (Ret) Renato Paredes was an independent candidate for congressman for the province of Ifugao. Police Director Efren Fernandez(Ret) was an independent candidate for Governor of Aklan. Police Chief Superintendent Francisco Zubia(Ret) was formerly a candidate for Governor of Quezon; while Colonel (Ret) Bobby Navida was also candidate for congressman under the Alliance for Democracy (ANAD) in the 2004 election.


Nine of them have retired from the service early but they never retire from work. They are still managing their own businesses:

Lieutenant Colonel(Res) Arthur Balmaceda – President and Broker of AF Properties in Hawaii;
First Lieutenant(Res) Ariel Domingo – CEO of Ariel Domingo Insurance Agency Farm Insurance, California;
Major(Res) Ernesto Fernandez – President of CETER – an IT consulting company in California;
Colonel(Ret) Voltaire Espejo – President, UTS Transport Company;
Captain(Res) Huey Tabanda – Owner, Caltex Station in Baguio City;
Colonel(Ret) Tito Legaspi – President, Aircon Services;
Colonel(Red) Eduardo Kapunan – Manager of his own private bank;
Navy Captain(Ret) Archilles Almario – Manager family owned Querubim Child Care Center, California; and
Major(Res) Angelo Molato – Pres/CEO, STI College, Rosario, Cavite.


Technical experts and skillful managers belonging to Class ’71 have continued to abound in many businesses and agencies. Among them are:

Navy Captain(Ret) Bienvenido Alano – UN Consultant;
Major General (Ret) Cicero Castellano – Consultant/EVP – GM AFPGEN/Pres , RSBS Holding Coy/AFRGEN/RR Tvl Tours
Colonel (Ret) Oscar Martinez – Consultant, Kuwait;
Colonel(Ret) Rolando Degracia – Business Analyst/Cost Accountant for Boeing Commercial planes;
Lieutenant Colonel(Res) Danilo Perico – Project Manager for EDS at Herndon, Virginia;
Colonel(Ret) Gregorio Cagurangan – General Manager of Japan Special Glass, Inc. Rosario, Cavite;
Colonel(Ret) Cesar Ibo – Manager Vanguard Holdings:
Colonel(Ret) Narciso Dauz – Manager Valley Golf Club, Antipolo City;
Colonel(Ret) Wenceslao Cruz – General Manager of Ayala Center Association, Inc. and Security Coordinator of Ayala Land Inc.;
Navy Captain(Ret) Urbano Fabros – SW Engineer of TRW, East Coast, USA;
Police Director(Ret) Renato Paredes – Head, Security Department of Negros Navigation Company, Inc.;
Police Director (Ret) Dominador Domingo – VP for Security, BPI;
Colonel(PC Ret) Teodoro Runes – Corporate Security Manager of Coca Cola Bottlers, Inc.;
Colonel(Ret) Eduardo Marañon – Senior Programmer Analyst of Los Angeles County, California;
Commander (Res) Socrates Brazal – Technology Analyst, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.;
Lieutenant Colonel(Res) Estanislao David – Consultant, Social Services Los Angeles County, California;
Colonel (Ret) Remegio Santos – Homehealth, USA;
Lieutenant Colonel (Res) Eduardo Fiñones – Real Estate Broker, Coldwell Banker , California;
Colonel (Ret) Fernando Francisco – IT Consultant, Philippines;
Colonel (Ret) Joseph Ramos – Pilot Transafrik Corp. , Angola;
Colonel(Ret) Danilo Belonia – Cebu Pacific Pilot;
Colonel(Ret) Manuel Domingo – Cebu Pacific Pilot;
Colonel(Ret) Manuel Foronda – Orient Thai Airlines;
Colonel(Ret) Manuelito Resplandor – PAL Pilot:
Colonel(Ret) Jose Yarisantos – Orient Thai Pilot.
Major (Res) Ruben Gange – Australia;
Colonel (Ret) Moises Millena - Australia;
Lieutenant Colonel (Res) Edwin Abello – East Coat, USA; and
Colonel (Ret) Philip Espejo – East Coast, USA.

Among the honorary members of the class: Nap Aquino is IGS Consultant, Moonpark CA; Avelino Cruz is Electrical Engineer of Raytheon Company; while Romulo Paredes is President of CEDCO, Inc.; and Cesar Pabuayon is a religion pastor.


Never satisfied with the basic education they acquired from the Academy, Matatags pursued college/graduate/post-graduate degrees which have been very useful in pursuing their progressive careers in the military and government services and professional life. Advanced knowledge acquired facilitated their handling of delicate tasks and under difficult circumstances. Success was inevitable. Here is a shortlist of the Matatags with the degrees they finished:

Colonel(Ret)/Attorney Roberto Sacramento

Bachelor of Laws. CSEE

Colonel(Ret)/Attorney Oscar Martinez

Bachelor of Laws

Attorney Zosimo Paredes II

Bachelor of Laws

Navy Captain(Ret) Bienvenido Alano

Master of Arts and PhD (Econ)

Lieutenant Colonel(Res) Jaime Gopilan

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

First Lieutenant(Res) Ariel Domingo

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering

General (Ret) Narciso Abaya

Master of Science in Civil Engineering, Master in Business Admin.

Navy Captain(Ret) Urbano Fabros

Master of Science, Information System

Lieutenant Colonel(Res) Danilo Perico

Master of Science, Information System.

Major(Res) Angelo Molato

Master of Science, Information System

Colonel(Ret) Rafael Galvez

Master in Business Management

Colonel(Ret) Philip Espejo

Master in Business Administration, Master in Log Mgmnt

Colonel(Ret) Voltaire Espejo

Master of Science in Log Management

Colonel(Ret) Rolando Degracia

Master of Science in Log Management, CPIM (Certified in Production & Inventory Management)

Senator Gregorio Honasan

Master in Business Management

Colonel(Ret) Fernando Francisco

Master of Science, Industrial Engineering

Colonel(Ret) Moises Millena

Master in Business Management

Colonel(Ret) Rolando Malinis

Master of Arts (Econ)

Commander (Res) Socrates Brazal

Master in Business Administration

Vice Admiral(Ret) Ariston Delos Reyes

Master in National Security Administration

Police Director(Ret) Jose Lalisan

Master in National Security Administration

Major General(Ret) Diosdado Tabamo

Master in National Defense Studies

Police Director(Ret) Renato Paredes

Master in Business Administration

Major General(Red) Cicero Castellano

Master in Business Management

Lieutenant Colonel (Res) Estanislao David

Master of Science in Mgmnt and Organizational Development

Lieutenant General(Ret) Romeo Dominguez

Masters in Accountancy, and Master in Public and Business Mgmnt

Senator/Dir Gen Panfilo Lacson

Master in Government Management

Colonel (Ret) Manuel Foronda

Master in Management

Major (Deceased) Ceferino Sarmenta

Master in Management

Police Director (Ret) Dominador Domingo

Master in Management

Brigadier General(Ret) Lamberto Sillona

Master in Business Administration

Colonel (Ret) Wenceslao Cruz

Master in Management


It might be surprising to many how the Matatags, despite the relentless attacks from different quarters and name calling, were able to achieve such high rate of success.

There is a big difference between what one perceives and what one actually sees.

The detractors can manipulate, through propaganda, people’s perception about the Matatags. They coated. They painted anything to make the Matatags look bad and distasteful. Unfortunately, they were not the ones who lived and interacted with the Matatags everyday. It was their superiors, colleagues, friends, and subordinates who may have to judge the true color and identity of any Matatags. They were the ones who looked and evaluated them based on what they actually saw and not on what other people believed they were.

The detractors can not take away from the Matatags what are internals and firmly imbibed in them by PMA for four years. As other alumni, who provided them moral support, said - “... ignore the press, ignore the detractors and instead just practice what the Cadet’s Prayer says:

… Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct us to a firm resolve to live up at all times to the creeds of our institution and teach us never to fail to measure up to the ideals of the profession we have chosen through life to follow…
…Give us that honest purpose in life which seeks fair deal with everyone and spurns all forms of hypocrisy that will enkindle our fighting faith, and smother all seeds of cowardice and fear in our hearts…
… The loyalty to our principles that places all issues above personal considerations, and shuns compromise with vice and injustice…
… Strengthen our hearts with fortitude that we may discipline our lives to trail the difficult paths rather than to stray on the easier ways…
… Teach us to make our play in every game, whether in mere sports or in life's mightier struggles, one where our desire to win is second only to our love of the game itself, where we triumph as considerate victors or lose with grace and a determined will to win….
… Endow our hearts with kindness that we may sympathize with those who sorrow and suffer…”

And they did!

Indeed, character, the hallmark of a Peemayer, had provide them the edge over others and also, in most cases, insurance for success. To many, hard work, dedication, patience, perseverance, knowledge, courage, integrity and loyalty imbibed in them by the Academy would govern their lives whether it be in the military environment, government offices, private offices, or private life. Many, who worked with them, were awed by their skills and values. They were appointed, selected or hired regardless of the bad publicity labeled against them. Matatags had proven their worth and succeeded. This is the secret of the Matatag class, and of any Peemayers for that matter, that explain their phenomenal rise in any undertakings despite odds.

A few may have gone astray. They failed. They knew and what is more important was that they accepted their failure and consequences of their actions. This is a mark of a true cavalier.

It is but fitting and proper, therefore, that as they celebrate the end of their military services, the Matatags are expressing their gratitude and respect to their alma mater – the Philippine Military Academy for what it has produced out of them, good or bad. They will forever love her and will continue to support her vision of being an institution of excellence and professionalism for future military leaders dedicated to a selfless service to the nation.

Not to be forgotten are their OAOs (cadet lingo for One And Only) spouses. For the strength, stability, support, and understanding they have exhibited especially during times of depression and despair, the wife of a Matatag has now been known as MasMatatag (English translation – more firm, more stable, more unyielding). Aside from being the good and loving mother of their children, they have been their source of inspiration and pride for being there both in times of triumph and defeat. For all of these, every MasMatatag deserves love and praises from her Matatag!


As the dusk set-in in the life of the Matatags, it is their fervent wish that tomorrow the dawn of the new era would offer new opportunities and approaches, and the realization of the Filipino people of the true undistorted picture, dreams, aspirations, and achievements of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1971. It could only claim complete success, though, if the quest for genuine reforms they had sown should ultimately bear fruit in the future. By then, the legacy of the Matatags ‘71 would be completed. They can die in peace proud of their illustrious service to the country and the Filipino people.

"I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and there is purpose and worth to each and every life." *

* Quoted from the inscription found at the memorial site where former President Ronald Reagan was laid to rest in California.


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