ZAMBALES, Philippines – U.S Marines from the Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 172 and Philippine Army engineers from the 548th Engineering Construction Battalion (ECB) officially broke ground at the site of the Lawin Elementary School in San Marcelino.
The renovation is one of eight engineering civic action program (ENCAP) projects being performed by the Combined Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (CJCMOTF) in support of Exercise Balikatan.
The renovation will include:
- Erecting a two-room 7 by 16 meter pre-engineered building with foam insulation on an elevated concrete slab.
- Installation of a French drain system
- Repair of the creek bank that runs behind the school
- Installation of erosion mitigation material
- Grading and leveling of the school grounds to prevent flooding
MWSS 172 Detachment Officer-in-Charge (OIC) 2nd Lt. Nicholas Ingold says he is happy to be working with his crew and his AFP counterparts. “I have a new crew of Marines and for some of them this is their first project like this,” said Ingold. He also expressed how much he appreciates working with the 548th engineers. “We’ve already been working to prep the site and they are some good, hard workers. We’ve been here side by side with them every day and they’ve shown us a quite a few new things,” said Ingold. “We’re excited to be here.”
Another person sharing in the excitement is Maricel Catubay. She is one of the teachers at the Lawin school and has been looking forward to this day for some time. She said the project is a dream for the pupils because their existing buildings are very old and they have been concerned about the possibility of an earthquake knocking the buildings down. In previous years different institutions had come out to the school to consider it for renovation but the site had not been selected. This year, however, the school was chosen as one of the ENCAP sites.
“When you came here it’s really a dream for us and a hope for us that you will continue and pursue this kind of project,” said Miss Catubay. “It’s really a dream come true for us.”
Balikatan is an annual Republic of the Philippines – U.S. military bilateral training exercise and humanitarian assistance engagement. Balikatan in Filipino means “shoulder-to-shoulder” and characterizes the spirit of the exercise and the Philippines-U.S. alliance.