Philippine, U.S. Forces Sweat for Common Purpose

Philippine, U.S. Forces Sweat for Common Purpose

Sgt Teyddy Gayosso-Torres works on the new schoolhouse being built for Maoyon Elementary School Sept. 17 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines as part of an engineering civic action project. Part of a series of humanitarian and civic assistance program projects taking place around the area between Philippine and U.S. forces, the ENCAP is focused on improving local infrastructure, while future cooperative health engagements will focus on sharing best medical practices and treating local patients. Photo by Sgt Anthony J. Kirby.

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines (Sept. 17, 2014) - Everyday, buildings are renovated or rebuilt to meet new standards and accomplish new goals. While construction is a physically demanding task that requires hours and hours of labor, the purpose behind the effort usually makes it worthwhile.

Philippine and U.S. forces began building an additional schoolhouse for Maoyon Elementary School Sept. 17 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines as part of the humanitarian and civic assistance program projects taking place there.

The construction is being done by Philippine Navy Seabees with Naval Combat Engineering Brigade, and U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, currently assigned to III Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

When complete, the new single-story, two-classroom building will provide much needed space for additional classes of students who saw an older classroom demolished in early September because of safety concerns. The building will also have a gutter system that will collect rainwater in storage tanks for use as needed.

Building the school not only benefits the staff and students, but also all of those involved with the engineering civic action project, according to Philippine Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Romulo Bajet.

"I've been a part of at least three ENCAPs and it's always nice to see my American allies come out to help," said Bajet, petty officer in charge with Naval Combat Engineering Brigade. "The experience helps us learn from each other as far as our job techniques and procedures."

The two engineering groups not only exchange knowledge about their job and best practices, but also shared culture and friendship.

"We get a deep personal connection with [each other] because we're working together day-to-day, and we're talking and learning about each other during breaks," said U.S. Marine SSgt John V. Cuyat, Engineering Detachment staff noncommissioned officer in charge with MWSS-172.

With the same goals in mind and newly established friendships growing stronger every day, the group remains determined and focused on completing the task.

"It's rewarding to be able to provide something for these kids," said U.S. Marine 1stLt John O. Mutton, Combat Engineer Platoon commander with MWSS-172. "Seeing their faces smiling day-to-day and having a good time, and working together with the Philippine Seabees is what drives me."

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