GUAM - Key leaders of the Guam National Guard and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Reserve Command and Retiree Affairs met in Manila recently to finalize community based projects in the coming year under the State Partnership Program.
The SPP is a Department of Defense sponsored program administered by the National Guard Bureau, partnering Guard units from different states with selected countries for nation building, among other projects.
About 40 reservists from the AFP Reserve Command branches - Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines - were on hand at the conference and met with Guam Guard senior leaders.
Philippine Maj. Gen. Joel C. Marayag, deputy chief of staff for reserve and retiree affairs (J9) lauded the effort to come together and plan the upcoming events.
"It is good to know that we have one aspiration and that we are able to work together for the improvement not only of the AFP reserve force but also of the Guam National Guard," he said during the opening ceremony.
Army Maj. Gen. Benny M. Paulino, Guam National Guard adjutant general, noted in his opening address how the close relationship developed over the years between the two organizations has helped the program's overall success.
"Through these conferences, we learn more of each other and how we can advance the partnership with our training needs and goals," he said. "We also strengthen the partnership through the professional fellowship derived from close interaction and dialogue."
The partnership between Guam and the AFP Reserve Command is more than 10 years strong and there have been more than 50 training events conducted, encompassing areas as diverse as civilian-military training, military to military training, and humanitarian missions such as engineer and medical civic action projects, Paulino said.
"I consider the close relationship with the J9 to be a reason why the partnership has achieved such success," he said. "When the J9 and I started this partnership 10 years ago, I could not have imagined that it would take us where we are today.
"The speed at which we have achieved our success was due not only to the interest we both share in pursuing the partnership but also to the strong friendship we had nurtured over the years. I consider the latter to be the strong bond that binds our relationship."
Philippine Lt. Gen. Anthony J. Alcantara, AFP deputy chief of staff, also addressed the group and expressed confidence with the continuing partnership between the two organizations.
"We bring to the forefront the well known and strong community based experiences of the Guam National Guard and the tireless pride of our AFP reservists to serve their own country," he said.
Alcantara also said the partnership is in line with the AFP's internal security peace plan called "Bayanihan," loosely translated as the spirit of cooperation. The plan is focused on the people, Alcantara said, where the priority is ensuring basic respect and the basic rights of the people.
Late last month, members of the Guam Air National Guard's 254th RED HORSE squadron worked with the AFP Reserve counterparts to renovate several classrooms at a school in Cebu, under an Engineering Civic Action Project. Cebu is in the central islands of the Philippine archipelago.
Earlier this month, Guam Guard medical personnel supported an AFP Reserve medical team and conducted a Medical and Dental Civic Action Project at two different "barangays," or villages, also in the vicinity of Cebu. The Guam Guard and AFP Reserve Teams treated close to 2,600 residents between the two villages.
Missions such as these - under the SPP - help strengthen relations between the Philippines and the U.S. The Philippines is the Guam Guard's assigned partner state.