Camp Manuel Yan: Army tourism

The 72nd Infantry Battalion HQ located in the camp's highest point at 900 feet above sea level.

Traditionally army camps just like any military bases are critical facilities, highly restricted to authorized personnel. but in Mindanao some army camps are being opened to tourists and visitors, there is Fort Sarangani in Malungon, Sarangani Province (headquarters of the 73rd Infantry Battalion) then we have Camp Manuel Yan in  Mawab Compostela Valley Province.

Camp Manuel Yan is the headquarters of the 10th Infantry Division along with several units like the 72nd infantry battalion. It is considered as the nerve center of the Philippine Army in Southern Mindanao.

The camp was named after Manuel Tecson Yan, the youngest Armed Forces Chief of Staff during the 1960s, who after retirement in the military service became a diplomat and peace negotiator (for those more keen towards showbiz, General Manuel Yan is the grandfather of the late matinee actor Rico Yan)

The 72nd IB camp grounds.
The camp during the 1980s was the regional headquarters and training ground for the Communist New Peoples Army before it was captured by the Army in 1986. An army battalion occupied the former rebel stronghold until it became a base for an Army Brigade (the 602nd Infantry Brigade). Among the notable brigade commanders who served in the camp included former AFP chief-of-staffs; the late General Angelo Reyes and General Frank Cimatu.

It was in 2011 when the 10th Infantry Division under Major General Jorge Segovia transferred to the camp from its main base in Camp Panacan, Davao City. The provincial government of Compostela Valley wanted the army to build a permanent structure in the province and offered the site which is predominantly a farming area settled by some 30 families.

The 100.8 hectare camp is currently being developed into a major eco-tourism destination in partnership with the Army, the provincial government and the local municipal government. According to Provincial Tourism Office Christine Dompor, a 1.5 kilometer zipline is currently being developed which if completed would be Asia's longest Zipline. The zip would start at the uphill portion of the camp descending towards Hijo River located in the valley below.

Aside from Ziplines, the camp is the site of two untouched caves. Mahayahay Caves is being developed into a spelunking destination in the province, it has two caves, the first cave (Cave A) is fit for novice trekkers while the second cave (Cave B) is more technical geared for experienced spelunkers.

Mahayahay Cave photo taken from the Comval Tourism website
Lt. Colonel Lyndon Paniza, commander of the 72nd Infantry Battalion one of the tenant units in the camp said that these caves once served as hide-outs for the New Peoples Army rebels during military operations in the area. 

He said that the Army and the local government have enacted strict rules to preserve the caves, even army personnel cannot enter the caves without getting permission from the provincial and municipal tourism office.

Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza
The main headquarters of the 10th Infantry "Aguila" Division

Comvalenyo visual artist Jun Fornales is responsible for some of the
 indigenous motifs  which you  can see in the camp

Aside from the caves, a 3-kilometer trekking trail is being developed, the Army is also constructing a heroes park, a deer sanctuary has been started and it now has six heads of Philippine Deer, there are plans to construct an indigenous peoples (IP) village which would serve as a transient areas for IPs. Tree Parks are also being established as the army wants to reforest the hills which once teemed with Lauan trees.

For visitors going to the area you can coordinate with the provincial tourism office in Nabunturan town or in the municipal tourism office in Mawab. If you are lucky you can catch army trainees during their jungle warfare course or some armored personnel carriers (APCs) performing their manuevers. Friendly army personnel are there for some chit-chats or they can act as guides particularly along military facilities like the Army Training Unit area which according to Lt. Col. Paniza was originally a training area for NPA cadres during its years as a guerilla stronghold.

Typical scene in the camp, army soldiers on training
Visitors witnessing army APC maneuvers
Inside the camp, visitors can experience "boodle fight"a military style meal preferred for
promoting efficiency and camaraderie. 

The camp is located two kilometers away from the national highway, the roads to the camp ranges from paved to rough roads.  With added tourism development the roads could be improved and be made accessible to more tourists.

In a strategic location the camp overlooks the highway and the valley below

The camp entrance along the national highway in Mawab, Comval


Popular Posts