PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines --
Children from the Bahay Ni Nanay Orphanage visited U.S. Marines and sailors April 19, 2012 on Antonio Bautista Air Base, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines.
This is just one of the many bilateral opportunities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Task Force Palawan that is taking place during Exercise Balikatan 2012, an annual bilateral training exercise designed to build the joint interoperability between Philippine and U.S. military members.
The children and service members spent an afternoon together playing various sports activities and spent time talking and getting to know one another.
“The kids had fun swimming and playing games with the Marines and other kids,” said Menam Wenceslao, a staff member at the orphanage.
After a couple hours of running around and participating in activities, the children enjoyed food from the local vendors.
Nearly 100 children stood patiently in line waiting for their generous meal and each of them expressed their gratitude after receiving it.
The service members graciously gave up their time to spend a once in a lifetime afternoon with the children.
“I like that we were given this opportunity to give back to [the children],” said Cpl. Bradley A. Reichert, an air traffic controller for Marine Air Control Squadron 4, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
This unique afternoon proved to be a good chance and experience for both sides.
“It’s good for them to mingle with other people,” said Wenceslao. “I know they will never forget this experience and this was a good opportunity to join the annual activities of Balikatan troops.”
The Filipinos and the Americans shared the common thought, that this day would be memorable for all and that Balikatan 2012 holds a meaningful purpose.
“With the meaning of Balikatan, shoulder to shoulder, this was a perfect example of what the exercise in a whole is all about,” said Reichert. “I know I will never forget this day.”
BK12, in its 28th iteration, also includes several humanitarian civic assistance projects across Palawan, ground military training operations on both Palawan and Luzon provinces and a natural disaster response command post exercise in Luzon province.