Community, AFP, US come together for competition[MIGRATE]

By Lance Cpl. Michael Thorn | April 28, 2014

Photos
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Watson, left, breaks open a coconut April 24 during the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata contest at the Magayan Festival alongside Philippine Army Pfc. Bryldon Alforte in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. Watson and Alforte are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. Alforte is an operations noncommissioned officer, and Watson is a naval builder.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Watson, left, breaks open a coconut April 24 during the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata contest at the Magayan Festival alongside Philippine Army Pfc. Bryldon Alforte in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. Watson and Alforte are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. Alforte is an operations noncommissioned officer, and Watson is a naval builder. (Photo by Cpl. Kevin Crist)

The Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata “Team Balikatan” poses 24 before at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries.

The Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata “Team Balikatan” poses 24 before at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. (Photo by Cpl. Kevin Crist)

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Watson, left, greets with local community members April 24 before the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. Watson, a naval builder, is a part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl Watson, left, greets with local community members April 24 before the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. Watson, a naval builder, is a part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. (Photo by Cpl. Kevin Crist)

Team Balikatan stands ready to compete April 24 before Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries.

Team Balikatan stands ready to compete April 24 before Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. (Photo by Cpl. Kevin Crist)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz


The Tamaoyan and U.S. service member teams play together at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship basketball game April 24 during exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz The Tamaoyan and U.S. service member teams play together at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship basketball game April 24 during exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz)

Local children are given candy after a halftime minigame by U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Byron Jacobson at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship Basketball Game April 24 during Exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations. Jacobson is a civil affairs team chief with the Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, U.S. forces.

Local children are given candy after a halftime minigame by U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Byron Jacobson at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship Basketball Game April 24 during Exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations. Jacobson is a civil affairs team chief with the Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, U.S. forces. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz)

Local residents, left, dance with U.S. service members during the second quarter show at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship Basketball Game April 24 during Exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations.

Local residents, left, dance with U.S. service members during the second quarter show at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship Basketball Game April 24 during Exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz)

The Tamaoyan and U.S. service member teams play together at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship basketball game April 24 during exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations.

The Tamaoyan and U.S. service member teams play together at the Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship basketball game April 24 during exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz)

A Filipino shakes hands with an American basketball player prior to the tip-off of a Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship basketball game April 24 during Exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations.

A Filipino shakes hands with an American basketball player prior to the tip-off of a Barangay Tamaoyan Friendship basketball game April 24 during Exercise Balikatan 2014 in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Basketball, one of the most popular sports in the Philippines, provided the local community and U.S. service members with the opportunity to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. Balikatan is an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces designed to strengthen interoperability and country-to-country relations. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Trever Statz)

Philippine Army Pfc. Emman Bronzal, left, and U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Cameron carve coconut meat April 24 during the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. Bronzal and Cameron are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. Bronzal is a civil affairs specialist, and Cameron is a combat engineer.

Philippine Army Pfc. Emman Bronzal, left, and U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Cameron carve coconut meat April 24 during the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. Bronzal and Cameron are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. Bronzal is a civil affairs specialist, and Cameron is a combat engineer. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael Thorn)

The Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata “Team Balikatan” poses 24 before at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries.

The Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata “Team Balikatan” poses 24 before at the Magayan Festival in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Philippines. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest during the annual festival to determine who can produce the most milk in a given time. The members of “Team Balikatan” are part of Exercise Baltikatan, an annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and United States armed forces that strengthens the bond and improves interoperability between the two countries. (Photo by Cpl. Kevin Crist)

Humanitarian civic assistance projects are taking place around the Albay Province, allowing members from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces to positively impact local communities, but those projects are not the only thing strengthening the longstanding bonds and friendships.

Filipinos and Americans came together April 24 for the Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata and basketball games during the Magayon Festival 2014. Kudkod-Paga, Turo-Gata means “coconut milk extraction contest,” and is a contest that takes place during the annual festival to determine who can capture the most milk from a coconut in a given time.

“There’s great interaction between the Filipinos and the Americans,” said Philippine Army 1st Lt. Raymond Carbonell, communications officer for the Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force, AFP. “Moments like this provide experience for both sides.”

Seven members from Exercise Balikatan joined together for the festival contest, and several service members formed basketball teams to play with local teams.

“We greatly appreciate the hospitality and friendship we have been given during our stay,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Jason Johnson, deputy commander of JCMOTF, U.S. armed forces.

The basketball game was played in the evening, once the heat of the day had begun to diminish, and the majority of community members around the Tamaoyan Elementary School were able to attend.

The festival and games made a positive and immediate impact in the relationship between the AFP, US and community members that will continue to strengthen and grow even after Balikatan 2014 has come to an end, according to Philippine Navy Capt. Ramon Renales.

“We are capturing the hearts of the people,” said Renales, the commander of the JCMOTF, AFP. “We’re building more than just schools - we’re building a friendship.”