PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, PALAWAN, Philippines – Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. Marines gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 16 at Maoyon Elementary School in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines.
The ceremony signified the start of a humanitarian civic assistance project to build two new classrooms and a bathroom that will provide the resources needed to teach more than 100 students.
“We will have community members, along with school teachers and students, working with the U.S. and Philippine Marines to build these classrooms,” said Irene Dilla, the school principal. “We are so thankful that you (both) are here to help us, and the children are all excited.”
When construction is completed on Oct. 6, the school will provide a safe and comfortable environment for the children of Puerto Princes to have the opportunity to learn, according to Dilla, a native of Maoyon, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines.
AFP and U.S. service members will partner around the area to complete more community relations projects to assist where help is most needed and build upon friendships, according to Col. John Armellino, chief of staff for 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
“Our Philippine counterparts select all the project sites because they know what needs help better than we do,” said Armellino, a Newark, New Jersey native. “[These projects] allow us to work closely and make important memories. If you have a friend and you want to strengthen that bond, then you need to participate in activities together to form a lasting relationship.”
As the ceremony came to a close, a hole was dug so Armellino and AFP Marine Col. Custodio J. Parcon Jr., could place a capsule holding the new classroom blueprint into the ground before pouring cement over the top of it to signify the beginning of the project and, with it, a brighter future for generations of school children.
“This training gives our country positive exposure and will be seen all around the world,” said Parcon, deputy commander, 3rd Marine Brigade, AFP and native of Iloilo, Philippines. “It is also good because the U.S. Marines here [help] the locals and they help teach the children how to speak English.”
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