U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Richi Saldiva holds a baby girl from Gentle Hands Photo Credit: U.S. Army Sgt. Dahnyce Baucom

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Richi Saldivar, native of Alexandria, Virginia, with Alpha Company, 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Information Group, participates in Exercise Balikatan. During a community relations event service members interact and play with children from the Gentle Hands Child Care Center, Quezon City, Philippines.

Philippine, U.S., Japanese and Australian service members with children from the Gentle Hands Photo Credit: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda

Exercise Balikatan, in its 34th iteration, is an annual U.S.-Philippine military training focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counterterrorism, and other combined military operations held from May 7 to May 18. Gentle Hands is a child and youth welfare agency that provide rescue and rehabilitation for medical, social, psychological, and educational needs of at-risk children and youth, and advocating for the rights of the children. Philippine, U.S., Australian, and Japanese service members spent Mother’s Day volunteering at the center as part of a community relations effort in the Philippines during exercise  Balikatan May 13, 2018.  

Philippine and U.S. service members conduct humanitarian civic action activities throughout Luzon during BK 34-2018. The exercise demonstrates cooperation and interoperability between the Philippines and the U.S., consistent with the Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement. This event highlights the two militaries continued commitment to train and share information to improve their ability to coordinate a multilateral response to crisis.