News: Combined Philippine-U.S. Engineering Team Completes Humanitarian Hat Trick
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Fahey
PALAUIG MUNICIPALITY, Philippines - A combined team of Philippine and U.S. Army engineers completed construction on three different projects for barangay Manggahan in the Palauig Municipality.
Supported by volunteers from the local community, the combined team built a new community center, renovated a day care building and installed a new ferro cement water tank designed to provide a reliable water source for the entire barangay.
The new construction is one of seven engineering civic action projects (ENCAP) completed during Balikatan 2013.They will provide Manggahan with needed space to official barangay business and a safe place for young children while their parents work. Additionally, they fabricated the barangay’s first pump-fed water tank.
“A development like this is very rare,” said Palauig Municipality Mayor Generoso Amog. “Our barangay will be forever changed because of this. Thank you so much for your sacrifices. We cherish all you have done for us and will remember you for the rest of our lives,” he said while addressing the group assembled for the community center’s official opening.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Joint Combined Civil Military Operations Task Force (JCMOTF) Commander Navy Capt. Rod Moore commented on the invaluable support the barangay gave to the team of engineers.
“This project allowed us to get to know each other in the community,” said Moore. “In the spirit of Bayanihan and Balikatan, we have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our Armed Forces of the Philippines and community partners to provide humanitarian and civic assistance. I’m confident that I speak for the entire task force in saying that we have all grown personally and professionally through this experience.”
Manggahan rests on the foothills of a dense mountain range, making flood waters and erosion a constant problem.
Recognizing this, the combined team dug a 900-meter drainage ditch to prevent the harmful waters from destroying the new and existing barangay structures.
According to the construction’s U.S. officer-in-charge Army 1st Lt. Brock Chavez from the 6th Engineering Brigade, the drainage ditch was unplanned. During his first exchange with his Philippine counterpart, the concept became apparent. The follow on execution started before any of the heavy equipment arrived on site. The combined team used shovels and other hand tools to dig the initial trench - all 900 meters – before finishing it with a backhoe later during the construction.
“It’s not the easiest thing to do,” laughed Chavez, “but the guys got to work immediately and did a great job.”
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.