GUIUAN, Eastern Samar, May 17–The Philippines-United States Balikatan Exercise 2017 has given opportunity for both troops to do meaningful work, learn from each other, and build personal ties.

The training between the two forces has forged strong ties and relationships to work together in responding to emergencies, said Lt. Col. Ryan Scott, commander of the Coalition Joint Civil-Military Task Force.

This year’s military exercise constructed a school building, renovated a school stage, and built a water catchment facility at Surok Elementary School. The campus in this town was heavily devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.

On Tuesday, the US Armed Forces and the Philippine Army turned over the projects to the local government and schools officials.

“This will help in the cultivation of education ideals for young generation that they will hold on for years to come,” said Lt. Col. Scott. “I am confident that if we quickly mitigate future effects of disaster to education because of the Balikatan Exercise.”

Surok village, located within the national road leading to the town center, is home to 1,487 residents who suffered the brunt of the super typhoon.

“Balikatan is not just a term to describe exercise, but a term that we value and wishes to convey that we are in this together and that we are in it for long hold,” the US Army official told the crowd.

Virginia Lagramada, principal of Surok Elementary School, assured that they would take good care of the new building.

“If not for the children’s welfare, this activity will not be done. For this, I am giving you the assurance that we will take good care of this building,” Lagramada said.

Construction of the school building was completed after a month of stay in this town of troops from the US Marine Corps, Seabees, and Philippine Army Engineering Brigade. (Roel T. Amazona/PNA)