Monday, May 8, 2017

A different Balikatan starts in Samar town

Fro the Manila Bulletin (May 8): A different Balikatan starts in Samar town

Guiuan, Eastern Samar – The 33rd Balikatan kicked off here on Monday. But instead of military exercises, the US and Philippines troops busied themselves doing humanitarian and civil work.
Yesterday, the Balikatan participants started building two buildings and a water catchment in this town, one of the worst-hit municipalities during the super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Balikatan Kick-Off at the start of Balikatan Monday, students from the Surok Elementary School in Guiuan join American and Filipino soldiers in a “boodle fight,” a military style of eating viands and rice served on a long table. (Juan Carlo de Vela|Manila Bulletin)
The soldiers constructed a new classroom and restored the school stage in Sulok Elementary School.
They also constructed the catchment, which will provide residents a steady water supply even during disasters.

The buildings are expected to be completed on May 15 and will be immediately turned over to school and government officials.

US Marines Captain Gabriel Christianson, team leader of the US contingent, said this year’s Balikatan will focus on humanitarian and civil assistance.

The American troops will also hand out sports equipment and school supplies to the children of Guiuan.

“Our activities are more on humanitarian and civil assistance. Meaning, constructing disaster resilient facilities and developing our capabilities, the community capabilities. That’s why we have our cooperative engagement to transfer knowledge and skills on how we should react during emergency situations, especially strong typhoons,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Mendel Aguilar, commander of the Philippine Joint Civil Military Operations task force.
Mary Rose Daylo,12, a Grade 6 student in Surok Elementary School, was grateful to the US and Philippine troops for building the classroom.

“It will be a big help for us because most of our classrooms were damaged during typhoon Yolanda,” Daylo told Manila Bulletin.

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