Philippine, American troops work together in Albay

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GUINOBATAN, ALBAY: The scorching heat of the sun cannot stop Lance Corporal Cristin Cosby, 24, from Okinawa Japan, from completing her mission.

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The female member of the US Armed Forces (USAF), currently stationed in Malobago Village this town, is working hand in hand with her Filipino counterpart in constructing classrooms in Albay.

Together with Army Staff Sergeant Romeo Bolo, 41, of the 565th Engineering Battalion under the command of Captain Lloyd Brian Paler in Camp Wene Martillana, Camarines Sur, Cosby has been constructing classrooms in the remote village of Guinobatan town since last month. It is her first time to do so.

For Cosby, Bolo and fellow USAF and AFP soldiers, this is part of the RP-US Balikatan 2014 humanitarian mission and they are proud of what they have done.

The USAF has donated at least $250,000 for these projects that include the renovation of Tamaoyan Elementary School; the construction of a comfort room in Barangay Pawa; the construction of classrooms and a health clinic in Malobago; and the construction of classrooms at Mercedes Elementary School.

The Balikatan exercise is a 30-year-old bilateral exercise between the AFP and USAF. The US government through the USAF has deployed soldiers from Japan, Korea, Hawaii, Guam and America for month-long humanitarian missions in Albay province.

“It’s a great experience since I’ve learned so many things from our Filipino counterparts. We shared our expertise and I learned a lot from the ingenuity of the local soldiers who live in a place that is often hit by natural calamities,” Cosby said.

Bolo likewise benefited from the knowledge he gained from US soldiers.

“We not only shared creativity but exchanged military techniques and cracked jokes,” he said.

The projects are being implemented in the town of Gui–nobatan and in Legazpi City in Albay Province, allowing soldiers to help local communities and exchange ideas at the same time.

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