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    APC ferries brides to their wedding in Lanao del Norte village

    MUNAI, Lanao del Norte-  Four young  brides were ferried by an M113A2 Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) fitted with Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS) to their wedding venue Tuesday  May 18  inside a military  camp of  the 43rd Mechanized Armor Company, 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion in the hinterland village of Cadulawan  in Munai town, Lanao del Norte.

    The wedding ceremony  was officiated by Reverend Father Ramon Torres, Vicar General of the Diocese of Marawi, and  witnessed by military officers, government officials and stakeholders.

    The new type of APC was first utilized as a bridal car on December 12, 2020, at  4th Mechanized Infantry  Battalion Headquarters  at Nangka, Baloi town, during the stint  of Colonel  Domingo Dulay Jr.,  former Commanding Officer.

    Major General Efren Baluyot, Division Commander of Armor "Pambato" Division said Wednesday, “These APCS with RCWS were acquired from Israel as part  of the military modernization program.”

    Baluyot said “the M113A2 APCs fitted with Remote Controlled Weapons Stations (RCWS) were a vital support to the military infantry  operations that liberated Marawi City from the Maute – ISIS terrorist group during the five-month long Marawi Siege on May 23 to October 2017,  and the recent joint military operations against the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters – Dawlah Islamiya in Maguindanao province."

    1st Lieutenant  Julieto Jakosalem, Company Commander said the four couples include Corporal Benitez and Edna Ermac, Private First Class Sonnie Bantas and Chiara Hermosilla, Pfc. Frank Limjuco and  Claire Velle Bariga , and PFC Kim Son Tabada  and Jennifer Ventura.

    One of the grooms, Corporal Helrod Benitez, 32 years old , a high school graduate from M'lang  North Cotabato currently  assigned at 43rd Mechanized Company in Cadulawan , Munai town this province  was one of the troops who fought  against ISIS -Maute terrorist group in Marawi City with his buddy Private First Class Limjuco and were both promoted one rank higher.  

    Benitez said he first met his wife Edna Ermac 24,  a resident of sitio Pindugangan, Tipanoy in Iligan City  on November  2019 when he  went to Wet Market in Poblacion Iligan City where she manages a stall. 

    “I asked her number and we had a constant communication until we established our relationship.  I asked permission from her parents to bring her a shopping to Gaisano Mall where I bought her a life size pink teddy bear and that’s how our  relationship began."

    “Helrod told me we would be brought by a bridal tank  from the camp to the venue where our wedding would be solemnized,” his wife Edna Ermac -Benitez said. “When I wore my bridal gown I felt tso happy that at last  our dream would be fulfilled.”

    "When I boarded the bridal tank protected by a full metal shield, I felt very safe and secure  being married to a military man. At least our family with our three-month old baby boy would have a secure future . I shed tears  when I walked through the red carpet towards the altar,” she added.  

    "How I wish we would have five children in the future. Helrod passed my test before we became committed  to each other until we decided to get married and I trusted him."

    Edna Ermac -Benitez  is the youngest of six siblings and is a graduate of Business Administration Major in Business Operations Management. from St. Petters College.

    “Unom pa ka tuig akong edad nag tabang na ko sa akong ginikanan diin 32 years na mi namaligya isip vendor hangtud ko nag graduate sa college.”

    Lieutenant Colonel Rommel Pereña, commanding officer of 4th Mech said married life is about compromises. "Yung ma- asawa  should talk and learn how to compromise. Ang mag-asawa may time na may conflict."

    "What you should do ay hindi dapat ma putol ang komunikasyon at mag usap,  huwag ninyong patagalin and treat each other with respect,” he noted.

    "Troops have rest and recreation privileges  and they have to  spend such  opportunities with their family. This is a long-distance relationship (LDR),” he added. "When they are at home for a vacation, they have to spend the quality of time with their family.”

    Not the least, Pereña advised the four couples, “You should agree on how to manage your financial matters, and manage your funds."

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