US troops turn over school buildings to Palawan school execs

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04:36 PM April 23rd, 2012

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April 23rd, 2012 04:36 PM

PUERTO PRINCESA City, Palawan, Philippines- The United States Armed Forces (USAF) turned over to the Philippines several classrooms that they built as part of the 2012 Balikatan Exercises.

Lieutenant General Dwayne Thiessen, Commander of the US Marine Forces Pacific, meets and greets the students of Kandes Elementary School where one of five new school buildings built by US soldiers were turned over to the Philippines. MATIKAS SANTOS/INQUIRER.net

The two-classroom school building erected at Sitio (sub-village) Kandes, Barangay (village) Bacungan, Puerto Princesa City, was just one of five projects under the Engineering Civic Action Projects (ENCAP) of the Balikatan Exercises, Rear Admiral Victor Emmanuel Martir said in his speech at the turnover ceremony Sunday.

The other school buildings were built at Barangays Sta Cruz, Buenavista, and Inagawan where two of the school buildings were constructed, Martir said.

The project was expected to benefit 400 pupils, “and of course a number of out-of-school-youth” once the school year resumes, he said.

General Jesse Dellosa, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, said in his speech that they were witnessing “the realization of aspirations and the birth of hope for a more promising future.”

He hoped that the new classrooms would “propel the children of Puerto Princesa to seek for knowledge and the truth as we pursue a common aspiration to educate our youth.”

We “are planting the seeds of good relations in Palawan so that our future generations will harvest the fruits of this good relationship,” Dellosa said.

Lucilo Bayron, Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor, said in his speech that education was the “greatest equalizer in life.”

He said that the classrooms built by the US will remind the residents of the long friendship between the Philippines and the US.

“When the soldiers first came here we thought there was a war,” Anita Hugo, the teacher in charge of Kandes elementary school said in an interview.

“We did not know that we were chosen as the place where they will build the new classrooms,” she said.

Hugo said that they have 130 students from grade one to grade six, and now that they have new classrooms “all the students want to have classes here.”

The school buildings were constructed as a joint effort by all the soldiers, parents, and local officials. The costs for the materials were shouldered fully by the USAF, Hugo said.

She said that many of the students came from remote villages and sometimes had to walk up to seven kilometers just to go to school. Due to exhaustion from long-distance walking, students often came late and caught napping in class, she said.

Another problem they had was the high school being 20 kilometers away. She said that students were initially active in going to school but eventually dropped out because of losing patience of travelling by foot everyday.

She hoped that next time the Balikatan would be conducted they could construct high school buildings.

Originally posted at 2:56 pm| Monday, April 23 2012

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