U.S. 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff arrived in Manila, March 13, for the ship’s first port visit to the Philippines in three years. As the talks aboard Blue Ridge will provide opportunity for professional exchanges, many Filipino-American Sailors will also have the chance to reconnect with their heritage during the port visit.
The Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet team undertook maritime cooperative activities with the Philippine Navy BRP Davao Del Sur LD602 shortly before arriving in Manila to reaffirm longstanding ties with the counterparts in the Philippine Navy.
Representatives from the 7th Fleet staff met with counterparts from the Philippine Navy for staff talks, aboard Blue Ridge.
During the visit, 7th Fleet and Blue Ridge Sailors spent time playing a friendly basketball game with a local college, and reading to children in local neighborhoods around Manila.
More than 150 Filipino-American Sailors serve aboard as part of the 7th Fleet and Blue Ridge team and many took the opportunity to reconnect with both relatives and their heritage during the port visit.
Ensign Samantha Angosta-Westley says, “I feel that we’re really committed to our allies. It means the Philippines matters to the U.S. The Navy took the time to schedule to visit the country and make sure they know that we support them.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Tuazon’s hometown in Philippines is Bulacan, and it is San Diego, California in the United States. He has had three years in service.
Seaman Christen Castro, whose hometown in Philippines is Baguio City, says that being in the Navy has taught her to be a leader and a role model.
Lieutenant Commander Patricia Cunanan, originally from Manila, Philippines, has had 24 years in service. She says, “In the 24 years that I’ve been in the Navy, it makes me feel proud that I’m doing everything I can to make sure I make my family and friends back home feel proud of everything that I’ve accomplished so far.”
Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders of various backgrounds have served in the U.S. Navy since the early 19th century, including those of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Indian and Polynesian heritage. According to Navy statistics, there are approximately 25,000 Asian-American and Pacific Islander Sailors currently serving. Among those who served in the U.S. Navy is Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the former commander, U.S. Pacific Command. Before his recent retirement, he was the highest-ranking Japanese-American to serve in the U.S. Navy.