Reconnecting with family in the Philippines

Australians with Filipino heritage on board HMAS Canberra were excited to step off in Manila to reconnect with family.

CAPTIONFrom left, RAN Able Seaman Marc Moyo, Philippine Marine Corps Master Sergeant Vincente Carubanga Jr, Australian Army Private Melanio Sager, RAN Medical Officer Lieutenant Phil Salinas and Philippine Navy Apprentice Seaman Cedrick Marcelo on HMAS Canberra near Manila, Philippines, during Exercise Alon. Story by Lieutenant Carolyn Martin. Photo by Corporal Robert Whitmore.

They were in the Philippines for Exercise Alon, a bilateral amphibious training activity part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour.

The evening before the ship was due to come alongside, members were busy making plans to catch up with relatives and explore the city that remains close to their hearts.

Australian Army cook Private Melanio Sager, 30, who grew up in Cairns after migrating to Australia when he was 13, said he was most looking forward to meeting up with his cousins.

“I’m very excited to be seeing my family again. They are coming from an island about four hours away. I’m hoping to be able to give them a tour of the ship,” Private Sager said.

Able Seaman Marc Moyo, 23, from Western Sydney, grew up in Australia, but his parents are from Tondo in Manila.

“I’ve only been to Manila once before, in 2013. I wanted to come back but COVID-19 hit,” Able Seaman Moyo said.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve been back. It’s awesome. I get to see my cousins and grandpa. I didn’t expect to come back with Navy.”

Able Seaman Moyo’s understanding of Tagalog meant he had an easy rapport with the embarked Philippine marines while underway in Canberra.

“It was definitely an advantage, and was great to hear their stories about why they joined the military,” he said.

Nurse Lieutenant Phil Salinas, from Sydney, said having a port visit in Manila was a great way to wrap up a three-month deployment for him.

“Going back home to Manila is the icing on the cake. I will see my family and friends,” he said.

Lieutenant Salinas migrated to Australia 12 years ago at the age of 25. He followed his aunt, also a nurse, to Australia.

He said it had been an engaging trip and he enjoyed the chance to integrate with his colleagues and get to know some of his fellow countrymen and women as he translated for them.


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