Army troopers spread holiday cheers to Higaonon tribe members

Published December 24, 2020, 8:46 AM

by Mike Crismundo

CAMP BANCASI, Butuan City – More than 500 members of the Higaonon tribe in several under privileged indigenous people (IP) communities in Misamis Oriental received holiday cheers and gifts from the Army’s 4th Infantry (Diamond) Division (4th ID) through the 58th Infantry (Dimalulupig) Battalion (58th IB).

CHRISTMAS DROP — Officers of the 58th IB distribute Christmas gifts to members of the Higaonon tribe in the hinterland community in Claveria town, Misamis Oriental province on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of 4th ID-PAO/58th IB-CMO via Mike U. Crismundo/Manila Bulletin)

This activity is part of the program of 4th ID’s commanding general Maj. Gen. Andres C. Centino dubbed as “Christmas Drop” which aims to distribute food packs, school supplies, and toys as the military’s way of spreading joy, hope, and  love to the communities this Christmas Season.

The program highlights the government’s concern for the IP communities particularly those situated in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in Northeastern (Caraga) and Northern Mindanao regions. 

It is also one of the Diamond Troopers’ ways of celebrating the 85th Founding Anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the theme: “Pinag-isang lakas na maaasahan ng Pilipino.”

More than 500 members of the Higaonon tribe in Sitio Impadiding, Sitio Langusahan, Sitio Mindalawat, Sitio Malunsagay, and Sitio Minsalawagan, all of Barangay Minalwang, in Claveria town, Misamis Oriental directly benefited from the said gift-giving activities. 

The gift packages contained hygiene kits, slippers, toys, clothes, and food packs. 

“Nagpasalamat ako ug dako sa mga kasundaluhan kay wala nila pasagdi kaming mga Lumad, gibutangan kami ug Military Patrol Base arun maprotektaran batok sa mga NPA ug gihatagan pa kami ug sayo nga pinaskuhan,” said Jimmy Beo, Barangay Councilor of Brgy Minalwang. (We are very thankful to the soldiers for not leaving us IPs, rather, they established a patrol base within our area just to protect us from the NPAs. Also, we would like to thank them for the early Christmas gifts we received.)

58th IB commanding officer Lt. Col. Ricky L. Canatoy said the “Christmas season is the best time for us to open our hearts and share our blessings, especially to the less fortunate.” 

“Seeing the happy faces of the children, together with their parents is priceless. We encourage our brothers and sisters who are still in the armed groups to return to the folds of the law and be with your families,” the 58th IB commander said. 

“Your families are waiting for your return and hoping to spend this Christmas with you,” Canatoy said.

“Make this Christmas season the best Christmas for your children. Returning to the folds of the law would be the best gift ever for your families and if you desire to leave the organization, we are always ready to help you to return to mainstream society,” the 58th IB commander added.

Centino said it’s the military’s simple way of  spreading the love this Christmas through gift-giving. 

“It’s not the value of the gift that matters but how much love we put into the giving,” he said.

He is also reaching out to the CPP-NPA terrorist (CNTs) members, telling them that there is still hope for them. “I am calling on the remaining CNTs in Regions 10 and Caraga to grab the opportunity to avail of the ECLIP and return to the folds of the law, live peacefully with your family, and share the love this Christmas,” Centino said.