SANTA ANA, Philippines -- PHIBLEX is an annual U.S.-Philippine military bilateral exercise that combines amphibious capabilities and live-fire training with humanitarian civic assistance efforts to strengthen interoperability and working relationships.
“I was originally scheduled to go to South Korea for some training, but then I was told it was possible I would be going to the Philippines and I was pretty excited,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Antonio, a corpsman attached to the community health engagement group in Cagayan Valley, Philippines, in support of PHIBLEX.
Antonio was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines. At the age of 20, Antonio and his family relocated to San Jose, Calif. He has now been in the service for ten years and has had the privilege of serving in several countries including Kuwait, South Korea, Germany and Afghanistan.
His current role in PHIBLEX is to conduct bio-medical technician operations with the community health engagement group attached to 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, but since being in the Philippines he has done much more.
“We have been able to send him with small teams into some of the local clinics to fix some of the older equipment; so he’s been putting in a lot of hours on the work days,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Jacqueline Clerc, a medical officer with community health engagement group attached to 3d MEB. “He’s fixed an X-Ray, electrocardiogram and a ton of things.”
According to Clerc, Antonio’s ability to speak Tagalog has helped out in many ways. Antonio has been able to explain medical techniques and procedures in a way that locals can easily understand.
“From what I’ve heard, all of the places have really liked him because he is very friendly and open, but also because he can speak Tagalog,” said Clerc, a Middletown, Ind., native. “The material we are teaching has been able to come across much easier than having to go through a translator.”
Though he has been afforded an opportunity to visit his homeland on his own a couple of times since moving to the U.S., this is his first time participating in a military exercise in the Philippines.
“I joined to serve and what better way to serve then to come back to your homeland,” said Antonio. “There’s no better feeling than knowing you are serving both your countries: Philippines and U.S. at the same time.”