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US sailors warn to learn karaoke from Filipino counterparts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—Filipino soldiers are eager to learn new combat techniques from their American counterparts and experience the use of state-of-the-art equipment during the nine-day Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) 2012 here, but what do US forces want to learn in return?

“To learn karaoke,” said Capt. Dave Welch, commander of the US Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 31 based in Pearl Harbor.

Welch told the Inquirer aboard the USS Vandergrift at the Makar Port here Wednesday that he and his men wish to go out with Filipino soldiers for karaoke before the exercises end on July 10.

“That’s a certain thing that we need help in,” he said.

Welch said some American soldiers might turn out to be “excellent musicians.”

“We usually put them in our bands but I myself, for example, I am not skilled in karaoke,” he said.

Welch said he and his men can use all the help they can get to become skilled in karaoke singing.

Philippine Navy Capt. Robert Empedrad, Carat 2012 exercise director, said they were willing to teach their American counterparts the tricks of karaoke singing.

“If you’re in the navy, you love singing. That’s one way of entertaining your comrades. 

There’s no problem. We can impart to them our skills on that,” he said.

Welch said it was up to Filipino sailors to learn what they could from US forces during the nine-day exercise.

Empedrad said Filipino soldiers can learn a lot too from their American counterparts in the conduct of warfare.

In fact, on Friday, they will participate in a live fire drill with US sailors in  waters off Sarangani province.

“Our ships are already old but what’s important is we will learn a lot from them,” Empedrad said.

Welch described Filipino sailors and members of the Philippine Coast Guard as very professional.

There are around 450 personnel from the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard participating in the Carat 2012. The US Navy and Coast Guard sent  about 500 personnel.

The exercises training include  in-port training, subject matter expertise exchanges, ceremonies and interactions; diving and salvage training at General Santos Bay, Sarangani; and medical/dental/ engineering civic action projects and community relations activities in different locations in General Santos City and Glan in Sarangani.

Commodore Philip Cacayan of the Eastern Mindanao Naval Forces said their American counterparts have installed sophisticated radios in their vessels to address communication gaps.

He reiterated that the exercise has nothing to do with the territorial dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal.

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