News: Philippine, US service members, children play together at Children’s Home
Story by Lance Cpl. Michael Thorn
TABACO CITY, Albay Province, Philippines – Filipino and American service members visited the Holy Cross Children’s Home Foundation Inc. Congregation of Sisters of St. John the Baptist May 3 in Tabaco City, Albay Province, Philippines.
The visit was one of several community relations events that took places as a part of Exercise Balikatan, an annual bilateral exercise that increases interoperability and strengthens the relationship between the Philippines and U.S.
“The help from America, and their good intentions, are truly appreciated,” said Sister Marites Glomo, a teacher at the orphanage. “We want to help these children now, so they can grow up strong and become good citizens.”
Visits and interactions with the local community are made easier because of the rapport established from previous iterations of Balikatan exercises, which laid the foundation for the mutually beneficial relationships between the service members and children.
“I’ve worked in the Philippines before,” said Australian Army Capt. Bryan Pipins, chaplain with 2nd Health Battalion. “Seeing the connections that are present today is great. It’s insightful seeing the strength of the Philippine and U.S. bond through the smiles of the children.”
During the visit, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. armed forces played games with, read books to, and got to know the children at the orphanage while also providing the children coloring books and a worship service. The visit concluded with a lunch for everyone present at the visit.
While it was clear the children and staff enjoyed the visit, the trip to the children’s home had a large impact on the service members who attended as well, according to U.S. Marine Maj. Grace Janosek.
“Events like this enhance community relations between us,” said Janosek, a civil affairs team leader with civil affairs detachment, G3, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It’s a privilege to spend time with these wonderful children.”