Exercise Balikatan Engineers Build Classrooms and Friendships > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article

By Staff Sgt. Peter Reft
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific

ORMOC CITY, Philippines, May 19, 2017 —
U.S. military and Philippine army engineers at Don Carlos Elementary School, on the island of Leyte, worked nonstop to build not only a new classroom for local children, but also friendships that will last for years to come.

Despite sweltering heat and torrential downpours, curious children and villagers passing by might not have been able to tell how exhausted military engineers were when they gathered as friends to laugh and smile.

“I see them all around to say hi to us every morning,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Lance Escobar, site foreman. “They’re happy to see us working hard, and whenever they see us tired they come by to talk with us for a bit and it makes us forget the fatigue in our bodies.”

The engineers worked hard because they dedicated their effort to building a classroom that will benefit the community not only for education, but also for shelter.

Withstand Super Typhoon

“One of our objectives was to build this structure to withstand a super typhoon, so, the community would be able to utilize it when that happens,” said Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Dusti Doss, construction site commander. “We do this to make a difference for the community and for everybody involved.”

Local contractors of the Ormoc City community also became involved in the project.

“Everyone from the barangay to the armed forces of the Philippines captain has made a huge effort to integrate and build friendships with us,” Doss said. “For instance, we got to know the local contractors on a first-name basis, and that has been a really big help in this project.”

“I am proud to say that our relationship here is very effective since we are already at about 100 percent accomplished,” said Philippine Army Corps of Engineers Capt. Armando Moncayo, Jr. “We still have two days before the turn over, so we have ample time to check on…

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