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."