News: Barangay Residents Help Combined Philippine-U.S. Army Team Stay Ahead of Schedule
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey
TAPUAC BARANGAY, Philipines - Thanks to volunteer effort by the Tapuac Barangay’s residents, the combined team of Philippine and U.S. Army engineers building a new footbridge for the community are ahead of schedule.
Since the construction on the footbridge broke ground March 21, the barangay has come together to provide a pool of skilled volunteers to help with construction.
“I remember on the first day we poured concrete, they had about 15 local civilians out here with us,” said crew leader U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Williams. “They are very skilled at pretty much every aspect of construction and will fill any capacity needed. They’ve helped us become way ahead of schedule, turning four day jobs into two.”
Williams said the benefits of the volunteers are two-fold.
“The footbridge is for the community, so for them to help and understand that this was a team effort by all of us, not just the military, really adds to the camaraderie,” he said. “Also, if down the road any repairs need to be made, then they are already familiar and have a great deal of confidence.”
Knowing that other barangay residents know how to make these repairs provides assurance to Marie and Marian Alfers – sisters who live close to the new footbridge along with 13 others in her household. Her father, a farmer, and nearly all of her siblings will rely on the footbridge to go to school, transport crops and see family members on the opposite side.
Synonymous with community, barangay holds a deeper more personal meaning. For the Alfers sisters, it also stands for trust.
“It’s easier for us to trust the construction when we see our barangay elders out helping,” said Marie through an interpreter. “We believe the footbridge would be strong either way but seeing our barangay out there is still reassuring.”
Volunteering to help the combined team at no extra cost to the government is what Tapuac Barangay Captain Rafael Elamparo calls his duty. His barangay is one of the largest in the province and has more than 100 farmers who live on the far side of the footbridge – cut off from most of the barangay. Before the existing footbridge was strung up, they would have to walk and transport crops several kilometers out of the way. The new bridge will save time, energy and help ensure farmers don’t lose crops during transit.
“Try to imagine what it is like during the typhoon season,” said Elamparo. “It’s extremely dangerous. I have 365 families who live in this barangay. This is their home, so of course they feel a responsibility to help, but we also want to help. We are thankful for Balikatan and the help it’s bringing us. When we help, we get to show our respect and learn about our new neighbors.”
The Tapuac footbridge was one of seven engineering civic action projects (ENCAP) being performed by Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) units in support of exercise Balikatan 2013.
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.
This work, Barangay Residents Help Combined Philippine-U.S. Army Team Stay Ahead of Schedule, by PO1 Chris Fahey, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.