SAMAR, Philippines (June 26, 2012) - Filipino-American service members returned home to provide aid to their former countrymen during Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12).

The service members are helping to provide medical, dental and engineering civic action projects to their friends, families, and neighbors during PP12’s visit to Samar.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sheralyne Christian, a nurse aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), moved to the United States from the Philippines in 2003.

“This is my first trip back to the Philippines and it’s pretty exciting,” said Christian.

“My dad is a doctor and I have been traveling with him doing medical missions since I was very little. It’s déjà vu being here and helping out again.”

Christian said she wanted to be part of the mission to help all the PP12 host nations, but she has been most excited to help her fellow Filipinos and experience the culture that she has missed.

Like most service members taking part in PP12, the Filipino-American’s have dedicated themselves and their time to better the lives of the patients they see every day.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Vinson Ilog is a physical therapist with PP12. He left the Philippines with his family in 1999.

“The best part about coming back with Pacific Partnership 2012 is helping the families here,” said Ilog. “I wanted to be able to help change the lives of my former countrymen for the better like the U.S. Navy has changed mine.”

Returning to the Philippines gives Filipino-American service members the chance to embrace the culture they left behind.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Shirley Gomez works as a triage nurse during the medical civic action projects. She left the Philippines 13 years ago.

“Coming back here to the country where I was raised is very fulfilling,” said Gomez. “I love being able to give back, to meet these people and to have the chance to speak again in my own language.”

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civil assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international agencies designed to build stronger relationships and build disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

For more information about the PP12 mission, please visit the Pacific Partnership Blog or engage with Pacific Partnership on Facebook and Twitter.