Tourism Triangle: A Visit to a Military Camp

For the longest time, Mindanao has been synonymous with "war" or "conflict" or "violence."  I get many surprised and/or confused expressions when I tell people from other parts of the country that I'm from Mindanao.  It's almost as if they were expecting war-torn faces or scared kidnap victims; not happy and cheerful people.  This is just plain sad and frustrating.  

Mindanao is NOT all war or conflict or violence.  Mindanao is beautiful. Mindanao is blessed. Mindanao is wonderful.  And it's unfair to tag all of Mindanao as war-torn or violent or unsafe.  

Iligan City, my home, is in Northern Mindanao; but Iligan City is just as safe as any other city. I would even dare say that in comparison, it's a lot safer than Metro Manila.  I know that because I've lived here for practically all my life.  And before you say that's a biased statement, I heard confirmation straight from the people who guard our city -- the gallant soldiers of 2nd Mechanized Infantry (Magbalantay) Brigade, Light Armor Division, Philippine Army.  The camp in Brgy. Maria Cristina was the first stop of the Tourism Triangle Tour in a Day by Iligan Bloggers Society, which was made possible through the efforts of Mr. Pat D. Noel of Iligan City Tourism Office.

We received the warmest welcome from the brigade commander, Col. Aldred L. Limoso, in Pagari Park, a garden within the military camp.  Pagari is a Maranao term for "friend" or "friendship," an apt name for a place used to receive guests and a spot dedicated to promote friendship and harmony. The park has three corners representing the major Philippine Muslim cultures — Maguindanao, Maranao, and Tausug.  
Pagari Park and its Three Corners | Travel Jams
Pagari Park and its Three Corners
Col. Limoso shared 15-20 minutes with us over a cup of coffee (and juice for some).  IBS was thrilled to hear that the Philippine Army is working hand in hand with Iligan City Tourism Office to help correct the image of Iligan City.  Majority of the soldiers deployed in Northern Mindanao are from Luzon and Visayas, and it is indeed inspiring to know that they really invite colleagues and families to experience what Iligan City has to offer.   
A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams
Photo credit:  IBS members
After the inspiring talk and sharing of ideas, Col. Limoso, along with other officials, toured us around the camp.  The Magbalantay Brigade, which literally translates to "guardian" or "defender," houses 61 armored vehicles. We got a chance to be inside one of their armored personnel carriers (APC).  It was fun seeing fellow IBS members be like children again who were let loose in a playground.    

A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams
Caution: Student Drivers (^__^)
Then we got to see the rest of the camp.  Col. Limoso also showed how they encourage their men to live well-balanced lives.  They're not all work and no play.  They have a pond and a park with relaxing view; they have basketball court, soccer field, and tennis courts for leisure activities; and they also have a chapel and a mosque to enhance their spiritual growth.   

A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams
Outside the Headquarters

A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams
A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams
A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams
The Chapel

And oh, if you're a chronic smoker, do look out for this sign:
A Visit to a Military Camp | Travel Jams

And to end the tour, we had the chance to try out the action-packed life of a soldier (well, sort of).  We rode the APC and went around the camp.  Woot!

The 2nd Mechanized Infantry (Magbalantay) Brigade is open to visitors.  They welcome educational tours and excursions.  There are planned renovations to ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable visit.

If interested, you may contact the Iligan City Tourism Office to schedule a tour.

Contact Details:
City Tourism Office
Bahay Salakot

Buhanginan Hills, Pala-o
Iligan City 9200
Tel No:  +63 (063) 221-3426

How To Get There:
The 2nd Mechanized Infantry (Magbalantay) Brigade is located along the Iligan-Marawi Road in Brgy. Maria Cristina.  It is before the welcome arc of Baloi, Lanao del Norte.
          *Public Utility Jeepney / PUJ (Ditucalan Route)
          *Taxi (as agreed by passenger and driver)          
          *Private Car 

This post is part of a series on the Tour of Iligan City Tourism Triangle.  Do check the rest of the entries out.

          1.  The Plan
2.   A Visit to a Military Camp
3.   NPC Nature's Park

                   Part 1: The Park and the Waterfalls
                   Part 2:  The Treetop Tour (Zipline) Experience
4.   Iligan Paradise Resort
5.   Tinago Falls

Photo Credits: Ma'am Binky, Alex, Alingatong, Arlene

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