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AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight: Master Chief Robert “Pac” Pagcaliwagan

24 May 2024

From Anna Marie G. Gonzales, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Growing up in the Philippines, four qualities were emphasized in Master Chief Robert “Pac” Pagcaliwagan’s household: respect, perseverance, industriousness, and faith in God.
Those qualities shaped Pagcaliwagan, command master chief (CMC) for Naval Supply Systems (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, into the leader and role model that he is today.

“I joined the Navy to have a better opportunity and to better myself. It has given me a purpose bigger than myself and allowed me to take care of my family financially,” said Pagcaliwagan, who moved to the United States in June 1994 and enlisted in the Navy three years later in September 1997.

During his 26 years of service, Pagcaliwagan has held various technical and leadership positions including advanced medical laboratory technician, platoon sergeant, medical logistics manager, command career counselor, and explosive ordnance disposal corpsman. As the command master chief, he is the senior enlisted leader for his command.

Throughout his career ascension, Pagcaliwagan was guided by the qualities that were ingrained in him as a child. Respect for others was especially resonant for him.

“In my culture, respect is shown by the ‘mano po’ or blessing, which is the placing of an elder’s hand on your forehead while bowing to pay respect to an elder during a greeting,” explained Pagcaliwagan. “This gesture of showing respect and respecting others is instilled in me which helped me in the workplace regardless of a person’s background.”

Pagcaliwagan’s humility and drive inspires many of the Sailors and officers he serves with.

“CMC Pagcaliwagan has inspired me through his unwavering commitment to leadership and mentorship,” said Lt. Jessica Smith, command legal officer for NAVSUP FLC Pearl Harbor. “His example has taught me that effective leaders not only guide but also empower their team members to their full potential, both career-wise and personally.”

She noted that Pagcaliwagan’s leadership skills have enabled him to build a cohesive and effective workforce.

“CMC's approach to leadership, which emphasizes the importance of putting the needs of others first, actively listening, and building a culture of trust and respect, has empowered me to become a better leader,” added Smith. “His cultural background has instilled a profound appreciation for diversity and the strength it brings to a team.”

Master Chief Derek Mullenhour, command master chief for Navy Region Hawaii, said Pagcaliwagan’s mentorship and focus on respect inspires Sailors to be better leaders in a diverse community like Hawaii.

“CMC Pagcaliwagan is a phenomenal leader of our Sailors today, and a sound and poised mentor for our officers,” he said. “Putting himself before others, he strives every day to improve the quality of life and overall quality of service for our shipmates. As the CMC of NAVSUP Pearl Harbor, there is no one better to lead such a challenging and diverse enterprise here on the island.”

Pagcaliwagan says Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportunity for the community to learn and understand other cultures.

“As a CMC, just being able to inspire and help others allows to have a larger sphere of influence in positively impacting the lives of Sailors and civilian counterparts,” said Pagcaliwagan. “It is what makes for a humble leader in leading a team no matter what cultural background you’re from.”

(In the month of May, we celebrate the contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) across Navy Region Hawaii. In keeping with this year’s theme – Advancing Leaders Through Innovation – we are highlighting leaders who are leaving their mark through innovation and excellence while promoting cultural awareness and fostering inclusivity.)

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