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Seabees Finish Building School in the Philippines as Part of CARAT 2008

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080610-14
Release Date: 6/10/2008 3:01:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Dan Meaney, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

NARRA, PALAWAN, Republic of the Philippines (NNS) -- U.S. and Philippine Navy Seabees celebrated the completion of construction on the Panacan Elementary School in Narra on the island of Palawan with a ribbon cutting ceremony, June 4.

The engineering civil action program (ENCAP) was the first project completed by U.S. Seabees for Cooperation Afloat and Readiness Training (CARAT) 2008, and combined military personnel and donated resources to positively impact the local community.

U.S. Navy Commodore Capt. Michael W. Selby, commander, Destroyer Squadron 1, and Philippine Navy Commodore Ramon P. Espera, Jr., commander, Naval Forces West, were on hand for the ceremony, during which the mayor and vice mayor of Narra expressed their appreciation for the Philippine and U.S. units.

Selby said he was glad to witness the results of the joint community project, the latest in what have been an integral part of regional cooperative exercises.

"In honor of the wonderful welcome and the long history of cooperation and friendship between the United States and the Philippines, it is our great pleasure to be able to come and help in the construction of this new school," Selby said.

After the ceremony, Palacan elementary school teachers served local food and coconut milk to the Philippine and U.S. forces at a midday reception.

The three-classroom building will be used to teach sixth-grade classes, and will benefit students and teachers almost immediately. The Seabees completed construction of the schoolhouse a week before classes are scheduled to start, June 10.

Panacan Elementary School has 1,077 students, who were sharing limited space. Teachers average about 60 students per classroom. The new building promises to improve the learning environment.

"The building will be a big help for the students," said Annie V. Maranan, who will be teaching in the new facility. "We are thankful for the help and very proud of the new building."

The Filipino Seabees and their U.S. counterparts, a detachment from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133, battled 100-degree temperatures and high humidity to complete the nine-day project while other units conducted exercises at sea.

Philippine Navy Lt. j.g. Armelita Alcazar expressed her gratitude to the U.S. Sailors that assisted on the project.

"We worked hard together, we became friends and they are always welcome," Alcazar said.

At the end of the ceremony, a landing craft unit from USS Tortuga (LSD 46) pulled up to the pier to collect the Seabees. All of the teachers and most of of the residents of Narra turned out to bid the Seabees farewell. Drum majorettes danced in formation to a rhythm band as the village said goodbye.

CARAT is an annual series of bilateral maritime training exercises between the United States and six Southeast Asian nations designed to build relationships and enhance the operational readiness of the participating forces.

For more news from Commander Task Force 73, visit www.navy.mil/local/clwp/.

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