News: New Tapuac footbridge leads Barangay toward positive future
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey
TAPUAC, Philippines - A combined team of Philippine and U.S. Army engineers completed construction on a 50-meter footbridge that connects the remote Tapuac farmlands to the community’s central market place.
The construction project was one of seven engineering civic action (ENCAP) projects completed during Balikatan 2013. It will allow more than 100 farmers and the barangay’s children living and working on the outskirts of Tapuac to reach their schools and the local marketplace where their crops are sold.
During the month-long construction, more than 60 different Tapuac volunteers joined the combined team to show both their support and sincere thanks for increasing their safety.
“This is a big help to us,” said Tapuac Barangay Capt. Rafael Elamparo. “There are 100 different families that live on the far end of the Barangay - famers and children. Those families over there can come back and forth easily even in the rainy season.”
During the official ribbon cutting ceremony, Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force Commander (JCMOTF) Navy Capt. Rod Moore attributed the construction’s success to the unique bond shared between the combined team of engineers and the barangay.
“You can’t help but notice the incredible teamwork shared between the Philippine and U.S. team,” said Moore. “It’s that unique teamwork that allows a project like this footbridge to be safely completed in such a short amount of time.”
The Tapuac footbridge is one of two bridges constructed during Exercise Balikatan 2013. The construction plans are based off the Bridges to Prosperity program. The program details the most efficient way to build a footbridge in remote areas using materials acquired locally.
Balikatan is an annual Philippine-U.S. bilateral exercise. Humanitarian assistance and training activities enable the Philippine and American service members to build lasting relationships, train together and provide assistance in communities where the need is the greatest.