Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A YOLO Trip in Patikul, Sulu


Geloy Concepcion: Ate Carla napaka - YOLO ng trip na to noh! 
Carla: Huh? YOLO?
Geloy Concepcion: You Only Live Once! 'Di mo alam?


I salute all of you. You dared to go where others would never dare to...
Gen. De Leon, Deputy Commander, Western Mindanao


The intro part to every literary piece is a make or break thing but believe me, I didn't know how to start this series of my recent trip. With one heavy breath and a promise to objectively actualize what I had in mind, I am sharing to you our experiences in the Province of Sulu in Mindanao.

It was early May this year when I was invited by Christian to join the Help Juan Portrait / Klasrum ng Pag-Asa on a mission to Sulu (which will be featured on a separate post). Armed with our cameras and undying passion to be everywhere and experience everything, we went to Sulu and came back in one whole piece and with a different view of what war and peace really meant. 

It was gloomy when we arrived at the Zamboanga airport. We were welcomed by the Marines and escorted us to the Camp Navarro of the Western Mindanao Command. We could've taken a 10-hour commuter ferry boat to Sulu but we used the MPAC (Philippine Navy's Multi-Purpose Attack Craft) that shortened the trip to just 2 hours. The ride was not as scary as I thought it would be and the weather cooperated for us to stay on the topmost part of this amazing watercraft.

the mighty MPAC 
sleepy, cold, rain, wind, blood, sweat and tears - nah...
At 11:00 a.m., we arrived at a port in Jolo bewildered. I knew that we would have escorts but not the whole brigade of a certain battalion. There were loads of Marine armies with a tank and huge army trucks (I dunno how they are called) waiting at the port and at that time the feeling was very uncomfortable (me thinking it was overkill but then I kept on telling myself that I was in Sulu). We were asked to not let go of the group and keep an eye on each other. We were literally surrounded by the Marines. I should be feeling secured at that time but I just can't deny the fact that it felt uneasy. Too much security can mean more threats.

first look at Sulu
only a fraction of them - believe me
We scattered on different army trucks and went on a convoy to the house of the mayor of Jolo, Sulu. Jolo felt like your typical urbanized town. There were tricycles everywhere. Uniformed army men and policemen were visible around town. It felt everything and everyone were doing their normal routine when tons of army trucks and a tank convoyed. Everyone knew that there were guests. 


loaded
escort service
a peek of the town - literally
A scene from one of our trips to downtown Jolo.


Arriving at the mayor's house, there was this sigh of relief that we were in a "safe" ground. We feasted on a treat of Sulu's amazing local delicacies and the Tausug's local coffee - perfect for the weather. Of course, I tasted everything and almost finished the first serving (yes there were more than just one serving of everything). Stress eating eh?


everything was so yummy that I forgot to ask what they were called
And so we thought that it will end there. After 20 minutes, lunch was served. Amazing! We feasted on Curacha (spanner crab/red frog crab), Grilled fish and Beef sour stew (like Sinigang). All of which were Halal. And it felt like we were on a buffet restaurant. They replenished every item everytime it looked finished. Ang galing lang

I was so full that all I wanted to do at that time was to go to a nice spot and nap. But we were told that we were leaving in a few.  And so we headed to the Marine Battalion Landing Team - 2 in Jolo, just near the Jolo airport. I dunno what we did there but we only stayed for a few minutes and left again for the next destination.


Curacha is the bomb
And it was Patikul. Almost 1 hour away from Jolo, we finally reached our final destination for the day. I felt a laid back atmosphere there. The sight of the simple life on this side of the country erased all the fears I had when we were in Jolo. We arrived at the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 Brgy. Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu with a feeling of relief that this place will be our temporary home for 5 days. The only place I could roam around without escorts following my every move. 

During breakfast on our very first morning we were all so excited for the day's activities when suddenly someone broke the news that 12 men were dead from a serious gun battle between the Marines and the rebel group in the area. Just 3 kilometers away from our camp...

a heavily guarded photographer
our normal 10-minute ride

When in peace, prepare for war. When in war, prepare for peace.
Fire team leader Fernando Layugan, Marine Battalion Landing Team 6, Patikul, Sulu 

23 comments:

  1. Nakakatakot naman dito, pero gusto ko din mapuntahan. :D

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    1. maganda ang sulu marx. mahirap nga lang dahil sa security issues :(

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  2. hindi ko alam kung ano mararamdaman ko kung anjan ako feeling ko di rin ako mag eenjoy kc lage kang alerto baka may biglang umatake at magtanim ng mga pampasabog. pero astig ito palang nabsa ko na ganyan mga nakasama sa pagsundo at paghatid..

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    1. we choose to be happy despite and inspite of everything. :)

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  3. this post gave me an insight of Jolo, Sulu... something you don't usually read on blogs... Kudos to all of you! sana makapunta din ako dyan soon! :)

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    1. salamat! and i'm sure you'll enjoy sulu mervs.

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  4. WOW...saludo ako sayo mam, na my halong pagkainggit at kaba...gusto ko ang mga ganyan gawain, matagal tagal na nun huli akong sumama sa mga gawaing school projects...hopefully makasama ulit sa ganun..lalo na sa ganitong lugar..
    sana rin makapunta ko dyan soon...^_^

    Looking forward to the other adventures you have in 5 days!

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    1. salamat po itay! hihi. ang sarap lang sa pakiramdam ang mga ganitong gawain...

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  5. Ikaw ang star ng Sulu! Alam mo yan ma'am Carla diba? :)

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  6. Indeed a memorable trip, good job mam! :)

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    1. hi gladys! super memorable talaga. :)

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  7. This post is very interesting. My touch ng journalism. Parang nararamdaman ko na din yong kaba habang binabasa ko sya. May phobia kase ako pag nakakakita ng madaming sundalo, sobrang bumibilis ang tibok ng puso ko. I'm so glad safe kayo nakabalik. :)

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    1. hi pang! salamat naman. isang malaking buntong hininga kada lumalabas kami ng camp at kada balik namin :)

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  8. Twelve dead in a gunfight - Marines or rebels? I wonder how often these young marines are rotated to a safer assignment.

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    1. 7 of those bert are from the Marines :(

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  9. Life threatening itong travel na to, but that makes an excitment for some. For sure. baka panay dasal lang gawin ko pag nagkataon napunta ako ng Sulu.:)

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    1. hi guys! travel for a cause naman so ok pa rin. pero ang ganda talaga ng sulu. sana dumating ang panahon na ok na pumunta ang tourists dun :)

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  10. im from mindanao pero dreadful pa rin sakin ang area ng ARMM. buti naman nakauwi kau ng buhay at buo. at mejo may point na nakalimutan kong jolo pala tong post mo dahil don sa mga pagkain. nomnom kasi

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    1. hi phioxee! super nomnom talaga dun grabe! ang sarap lang talaga :)

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  11. Gusto ko pa rin mapuntahan 'yan. Naalala ko yung movie na Patikul sa Cinemalaya 2 yrs ago. Hindi ko siya napanood, pero sabi ng mga nanood lalo daw nila na-appreciate yung mga teachers na nagwowork sa Sulu. Saludo ako sayo :D

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    1. eek. we met kristoffer the screenwriter of the movie there when they had the film showing. salamat mica!

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