(An updated blog on the situation in Camp Aguinaldo can be accessed through this link (https://runningadik.com/2017/02/13/sports-and-fitness-in-the-camp-a-guide-for-running-in-camp-aguinaldo/) Please take time to browse this as well. Thanks.)
So the rumors and quips are all true. You can’t run or bike (or swim?) at Camp Aguinaldo anymore. The Military Police (MP) have been making the rounds of the grounds, making sure any remnant of ‘public’ runners and bikers are all weeded out. It seems a bit petty having MPs do this deliberately, as if we were security risks. Why, Camp Aguinaldo? We may have run and rode your rolling hills and serene flats, for free for years, but we loved you back as much. We obeyed camp and traffic rules, we greeted and laughed with your soldiers, we stood gallantly with our right hand on chest during flag ceremony. We only stayed for as long as our trainings required, careful to understand that the day-to-day camp business always comes first. That’s also the reason why we never questioned getting booted out of the Parade Grounds during the inaugurations, or worse, not getting access into the camp on red alert mode.
But to ban us all at the camp is a bit condescending, if not cruel. Especially since you now exclusively allow only soldiers and their dependents to run or bike. It’s almost like telling us that the camp is NOT for civilians (read: runners, bikers) but I beg to disagree, being a diligent taxpayer for 32 years, have I not a right to enter a government facility as a law-abiding citizen? How wrong could all the previous Chiefs of Staff have been that they have not seen runners and bikers as a security problem to deal with for so many years? What, pray tell, do we now do with all the signs in abundance at the camp asking motorists to go slow and give way to runners and bikers?
One MP claimed that the reason for this ban was that the camp is not a place for sports. I almost fell off my feet when he said this. If what he said would be followed to the hilt, they would need to close down the entire Camp Aguinaldo Golf Course, but of course, the generals who play there on a regular basis will not have this. After all, how much income goes into the camp from the golf course fees alone?
Let me stretch this argument one notch further. People come and go at the camp, NOT just for military reasons or issues. There’s an Officers Club that makes money from function rooms, banquets, shows in the amphitheater, even catering and water delivery. In other words, why isolate the runners and the bikers as security risks when there are far more people entering the camp for a myriad of reasons?
This is definitely a losing battle to begin with, that’s why I preferred not to shut up. It’s funny that I overheard someone in the camp say, “Sir, senya na ho, hintayin na lang natin pag nagkaroon ng bagong Chief of Staff; they come and go naman.” Of course. Soldiers who follow instructions don’t need to understand or question.
As a consolation, we have been told to run ONLY at the Parade Grounds (the 600m square track beside the Grandstand). Thank you, but no thank you. Try to fit in more than 10 runners/joggers/walkers at any given time and you have chaos and people tripping over people.
And so I run somewhere else. I cannot be stopped. It’s just a pity why Camp Aguinaldo would close its doors on people who thought so highly of it.
ADDENDUM (May 5, 2016):
I apologize that it took awhile to do this update; it took more than three months, in fact, to communicate this to people who have followed the original post in early February 2016.
To those who knew me personally, I had formal access to the Camp via 2016 CarPass and I entered the premises on a daily basis to walk my dog Dakin, avoid the Boni Serrano congestion to EDSA and get some stuff at the Soldier’s Mall. I did these things with steely consistency, even if I could not run and just opted to obey the “rule”. Many times, I interviewed people who willfully violate the ban, that sometimes I wished I had the tenacity to do the same.
Shortly after the Camp played host to the EDSA Revolution Experiential Museum, more and more people started running and biking, at odd hours…Although that specific part of Crame Avenue where the Chief of Staff’s mansion stood now was almost permanently closed to vehicular traffic, even the Military Police stopped rounding off runners and bikers and simply stationed themselves at the Grandstand area.
Two months ago, I started running in the Camp again. It felt like coming home, especially when the peak of summer set in and the ripened indian mangoes started falling off the trees.
I stepped up my courtesy a notch by greeting every soldier as I run by. There are still just a handful of us, which means that the USUAL aguinaldo crowd have found other running playgrounds. But like everyone else who has started to enjoy the camp facilities once more, we hope and pray that the privilege of utilising this running/biking haven will not be taken away from us again.