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Earlier this week, I wrote about What You should know about Martial Law, and I mentioned about my trip last weekend to General Santos City.
General Santos is between 2 1/2 to 4 hours travel from Davao. That is a big spread, but the difference depends on the level of traffic, the driving of the bus driver, and whether you choose a non-stop bus or one that makes multiple stops. If I am driving, I have done the trip in as little as two hours, but usually it is a 2 1/2 hour trip if you are driving your own car.
This was just a quick trip that we took. We left Sunday morning to go to GenSan, and we returned to Davao the same day, in the afternoon. It was a long day, but the trip was necessary for a few reasons. We did enjoy it, though. This was my first time to travel since Martial Law was declared in Mindanao last month. I wanted to share my experience of travel under Martial Law here in Southern Mindanao.
I do want to point out that what I say here really does not apply to Northern Mindanao, though. Really, our trip over the weekend took the same amount of time as normal. I have been told by a friend who lives in Ginoog City (Northern Mindanao) that going to Cagayan de Oro used to be a 2 hour trip, and now it takes 10 hours of travel! Lots of checkpoints and such slowing things down.
This trip consisted of myself, my oldest son, Chris, and my oldest daughter, Jean.
We left from Ecoland Bus Terminal
We like to travel early and get to our destination early in the day, so we go to Ecoland Terminal (not far from our house) at 6 AM. When we got to the terminal, security was tighter than normal. Security at the bus terminal is always tight here in Davao, but it was stepped up to a different level on this trip. They really searched our bags very thoroughly on this trip (we were traveling light, though, only one backpack for each passenger). One thing that was unusual is that they required us to show our government ID before entering the terminal. This has been implemented since Martial Law.
After choosing our bus and getting underway, the trip was normal for the majority of the route.
Arrival in General Santos City
As we approached General Santos City, in Barangay Katangawan (maybe 5 miles outside the City Proper), there was a checkpoint. This really reminded me of how Davao has had “entry point” checkpoints coming into the city for many years, but it was new in General Santos, and I am sure it was implemented as part of Martial Law.
When we reached this checkpoint, all passengers were required to disembark from the bus, and bring their bags and other possessions with them for inspection. When they checked bags they also required ID from each passenger.
It was kind of funny, I was in line for my inspection, and I could see the Military man looking up at me, and seeming very nervous! LOL I could tell that he was nervous about having to speak English to me, unsure of what to say, and embarrassed that his English was probably “not good enough” to talk to a foreigner. He was very happy, though, when I got to the front of the line and I addressed him in Bisaya. At that point other soldiers heard us conversing in Bisaya and they all came over to talk to me, laughed and generally had a good time talking to me. I enjoyed it too.
After less than 10 minutes we were back on our way for the remainder of our trip.
Really, that was the only checkpoint we encountered on our on the trip. I think it is wise to have such checkpoints at the entry points of the city, it helps with security, and lets them track who is entering the city. We have had that in Davao for a dozen years or more. These “entry point” check points require stopping and inspection only when entering the city, not when leaving.
The trip home
The trip home to Davao was more or less the same, except a few things:
- A couple of extra checkpoints, but they did not require passengers to disembark. These kind of checkpoints pop up from time to time, so I did not find them to be unusual.
- Traffic was heavier and the trip took longer. We went to GenSan very early in the morning, and came home around mid-day, so this is to be expected.
The bottom line
For me, the bottom line lesson for traveling during Martial Law is that you need to carry your ID with you wherever you go. They do ask for it, and expect you to be able to prove who you are. They will expect Government ID for this.
A second lesson, which I already knew, is that you should respect authorities, and don’t get angry or cause trouble. If you do that, you will be the one who will experience trouble. You don’t want that.