Armed Forces of the Philippines open rebuilt mess
20 December 2013
Philippines Army soldiers and Australian soldiers from Townsville worked shoulder to shoulder over three days in early December to rebuild a mess hall that had been flattened by Typhoon Haiyan a month earlier.
Filipino soldiers from the Leyte-based 19 Battalion, 802 Infantry Brigade, had been busy providing force protection to the Joint Task Force 630 Recovery Support Force and were unable to repair their own base.
Diggers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment and attachments cleaned up areas of the base, repaired plumbing, and more importantly, repaired the battalion’s communal mess hall.
Sergeant Florentino Nadera, a squad leader in 19 Battalion’s mortar platoon, also a skilled carpenter, said it was a pleasure to work with the Australian soldiers.
“We learnt a lot of skills from them and for me, it’s my treasure,” he said.
“I have observed that the Australians are hard-working and we are proud of them.”
Sapper Richard Benson, a 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment carpenter, echoed his Filipino workmate’s sentiments.
“It’s a pleasure to work with the Filipino soldiers; they’re just good people,” he said.
“They’re showing their appreciation by getting right in and doing the hard, heavy-lifting work.”
Sapper Benson said the mess hall was a significant repair and construction task.
“Once we’re finished with this, I reckon it will last 50 years,” he said.
The Battalion waited to use the facility for the first time until the two forces were able to enjoy some time out to have a lunch together in the new facility.
A number of presentations were made in recognition of the work that has been conducted during Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST and the friendships that have been formed between the two militaries.