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Philippines, US cement relationship while building school

By Lance Cpl. Daniel E. Valle | | October 14, 2011

More than 60 U.S. Marines, sailors and airmen assigned to 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and seabees from the Philippine navy have recently been working together to construct a new school here.

The armed forces of the Philippines and U.S. Armed Forces have conducted construction projects like this for the past 28 years during the annual Amphibious Landing Exercise, or Phiblex.

Phiblex 2012 is an annual bilateral training exercise held between AFP and U.S. Military personnel. The purpose of the exercise is to improve interoperability, combat readiness and enhance security cooperation throughout the region.

This year's exercise is scheduled to begin during an opening ceremony Oct. 17; however, building the school required personnel to begin earlier.

“We are building a three-classroom building that will accommodate 150 to 200 students,” said Capt. Alistair E. Howard, III Marine Expeditionary Force civil affairs team leader overseeing the project.
Building the school from the ground up will take an estimated month, according to Howard.

“The current school is overcrowded. We are building this extension to reduce that amount,” he said. “The location will also prevent the younger students from having to walk so far, while providing them with a suitable learning environment.”

Working so closely together with our Filipino counterparts is important because it builds camaraderie, according to Gunnery Sgt. Ronnie L. Crosson, III MEF civil affairs chief.

“It feels good to be here making a difference in someone else’s life,” said Crosson. “This is my second project like this and I really enjoy seeing members of the local community smiling as they watch us work.”

We enjoy using our skill sets to make a positive impact on the local community, said Howard.

“Since we began construction here, everyone has been supportive; when people pass by, they stop and see how we are helping their community and these children,” said Howard. “It feels great to be part of something so positive.”

For more stories and photos visit www.facebook.com/ExercisePHIBLEX.

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