Story by SW3 Taylor Myers, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5
U.S. Navy Seabees, from Naval Construction Battalion (NMCB) 5’s Detail Palawan, celebrate the completion of Malatgao Elementary School with a ribbon cutting ceremony Feb. 19 in Narra, Palawan.
The two-room schoolhouse construction began Oct. 17, 2019, in support of the Philippines Department of Education. The Malatgao Elementary School project was a joint effort between U.S. Navy Seabees with NMCB-5, Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) Marines with Marine Battalion Landing Team (MLBT) 4, and AFP Seabees from NMCB-2.
The completed schoolhouse is on a concrete slab with columns and concrete masonry unit blocks. The roof was constructed with steel trusses and sheet metal. The inside consists of fluorescent lighting, electrical outlets, and wood doors. The outside school has a fresh coat of creamy yellow paint, radiating bright colors, in harmony with the mood of the celebration.
Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, Marcial A. Alili, the school’s principal, was able to see the completed school up close for the first time and expressed his hopes for the school’s future, highlighting his intentions to maintain the facility.
“It is perfect, more than perfect,” said Alili. “Children will be educated here for generations.”
During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Prisco T. Tabo Jr., MBLT-4’s commanding officer, spoke about the experience of seeing the completed school.
“It is an amazing experience to see the difference between what was here before the school was built, and now to have the completed school,” said Tabo.
The attendees convened under a pavilion to conduct the rest of the ceremony where the symbolic key was turned over to the community, signifying the handing off of the school from those who built it to the community who will now use it.
“This building represents the strong relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines and what we can achieve together,” said Tabo as he asked the community to remember what the school stands for and to maintain it, so generations to come will be able to benefit.
Alili and U.S. Navy Lt. Joshua Moore, NMCB-5’s officer in charge, signed the Beneficial Occupancy Date Letter to officially turn over the new building to Malatgao Elementary School and the community.
To celebrate the official turnover, multiple performances were done by students. The youth danced and performed a traditional sword fighting routine.
After the performances were completed, Nena B. Cabildo, master teacher with the Philippines Department of Education, gave a closing speech to show her appreciation for what the Seabees brought to the community. Cabildo explained the need for schools in the local area, that this was fulfilling, and there was hope for more support from the U.S. in the future.
“This is two more class rooms of many more needed within Palawan,” said Cabildo.
To close the ceremony, Rev. Father Alberto N. Sanchez, a local priest, led a blessing ceremony where he prayed over the school, the students who will use it, and multiple people who built it.
NMCB-5 is deployed across the Indo-Pacific region conducting high-quality construction to support U.S. and partner nations to strengthen partnerships, deter aggression, and enable expeditionary logistics and naval power projection. The battalion stands ready to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief and Major Combat Operations throughout the region.