BK09 Humanitarian Projects Bring Promise of Clean Water to Many in Masbate Province[MIGRATE]
By Lance Cpl. Antwain Graham
| April 16, 2009
Engineers with the 356th Aviation Engineering Group (356th AEG), Philippine Air Force, Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. Navy Seabees with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Forty (NMCB 40), worked together April 16, to build two new water well systems in the Dap Dap and Sawang areas of Masbate.
The bilateral project, which brings fresh water to the local Barangays or villages,
is part of several humanitarian efforts being conducted during Balikatan 2009.
“This is for the people,” said Rey Porcadilla, a barangay captain. “Everybody needs water and we’re glad the engineers are here to help.”
The activity also gives foreign and domestic service members a chance to combine strengths and ideals while working shoulder-to-shoulder.
The Seabees quickly befriended the Philippine airmen during the experience.
“Working with Filipinos is very easy because they are very inviting and take you in like family,” said Petty Officer First Class Jose Murphy, an equipment operator with NMCB 40.
According to Lt. Rafael Suazo, the officer in charge for NMCB 40, the locals were very ecstatic to see the U.S. military giving a helping hand to their community.
“It’s an awesome experience knowing we are doing something good for the people here,” Rafael said.
The Philippine service members were equally elated to stand beside the U.S. troops. Philippine Air Force Maj. Andres Suaio, group commander for 356th AEG said the Seabees are very comforting to work with.
“I feel great being a part of Balikatan ‘09, and I am willing to share my knowledge as much as I take from the experience,” Suaio said.
Balikatan ‘09 is a bilateral humanitarian assistance and training activity that promotes unity and readiness between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States. In the Bicol region, Philippine and U.S. military forces are constructing two water wells, building two schools and constructing two roads as part of Balikatan ‘09. They will also conduct several planned medical, dental and veterinary clinics in the Bicol region. Efforts like this help ensure humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts are efficient and effective. Balikatan is a Tagalog word that means “shoulder-to-shoulder” and characterizes the philosophy and intent behind the mission.