By Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau
June 11, 2013
Charleston – It was a bitter sweet goodbye for the Philippines’ second warship, as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz set sail from South Carolina to the Philippines on Monday morning. At the send off, the navy vessel’s officers and crew said the Filipino-American community’s generosity will be missed most. Many Fil-Ams played hosts and opened their homes to the 82 men and 5 women who make up the officers and crew of the navy vessel.
“The Filipino Community in Charleston made sure the men and women of the Alcaraz were provided with a home away from home while we were here in South Carolina. And for that we will forever be indebted to them,” Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the Alcaraz said shortly before the vessel left for the Philippines on Monday.
Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. also paid tribute to the Filipino Community during his visit to the Alcaraz on Sunday.
“It would have been difficult for our sailors to cope with the extended time away from their loved ones had it not been for our kababayans who were always there ready to extend a helping hand,” Ambassador Cuisia said on the eve of the Alcaraz’s departure for Manila.
Since May, local Filipinos have been visiting the sailors on a regular basis and invite them to their homes during weekends for parties and other occasions or bring them around town during their free time.
Community members also provided the crew with thermal wear for winter and donated books, equipment and other items for the vessel. Filipinos who had retired from the US Navy also went out of their way to help train the Alcaraz crew.
After 18 months and $15.6 million USD worth of ship upgrade and successful training with the US Navy and US Coastguard, Cmdr Pete De Guzman said they are now more than ready to patrol and defend Philippine waters.
“Maituturing na rin silang eksperto sa mga sinabing kagamitan at ito ay isang mabuting hakbang. Hindi lang ng Hukbong Dagat sa Pilipinas kungdi ng ating Hukbong Sandatahan, makakatulong para maprotektahan ang ating mga interes at mga teritoryo ng ating bansa,” he said.
“Marami kaming na-accomplish dito, sa medical side, ang dami naming bagong equipment, na hindi usually nakikita sa isang barko ng Philippine Navy,” said Maj. Erickson Gob, a medical officer on Alcaraz.
The ship will travel 7,750 nautical miles for about 8 weeks to the Philippines.
Make sure no one jump ship … US doesn’t need more illegals .
LOL,,,check the towels…in the barracks…souvenir