Hi-tech combat for Filipinos, karaoke for Americans

General Santos, south Philippines (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Filipino soldiers are eager to learn new combat techniques from their American counterparts but what do US forces, in turn, want to learn from the Filipinos?

"To learn karaoke," Captain Dave Welch, commander of the US Navy¿s Destroyer Squadron 31 based in Pearl Harbour, told the Inquirer aboard the USS Vandergrift at the Makar Port here.

Interviewed on Wednesday, Welch said he and his men wished to go out with Filipino soldiers for some karaoke singing, possibly before the end of the two countries¿ joint military exercises on July 10.

¿That¿s a certain thing that we need help in," he said.

Word of caution

But a word of caution to the Americans: Avoid singing Frank Sinatra¿s trademark song ¿My Way¿ in public.

An Inquirer story in 2010 said at least half a dozen people had been killed in over a decade around the country, many in karaoke bars, for not singing the Sinatra masterpiece the right way.

One of the victims was a man who was shot dead by a security guard in a karaoke bar for his off-key delivery.

Filipinos willing

Welch said some American soldiers were good musicians and ¿we usually put them in our bands."

"But I myself, for example, I am not skilled in karaoke," he confessed.

Welch said that he and his men, who are taking part in military exercises with Filipinos dubbed Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (Carat) 2012, could use all the help they could get to become skilled in karaoke singing.

No problem, said Philippine Navy Capt. Robert Empedrad, the exercise director. He said the Filipinos were willing to teach the Americans the tricks of karaoke singing.

Love for 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 them our skills," Empedrad said.

Welch said it was up to Filipino sailors what they wanted to learn from US forces during the Carat exercises, including how to handle state-of-the art equipment.

Old ships

Empedrad conceded that Filipino sailors could learn a lot from the Americans about fighting.

In fact, today the Filipinos are taking part in a live-fire drill with US sailors in the 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 Coast Guard as very professional.

Not related to Scarborough

Around 450 personnel from the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard are taking part in the Carat exercises, along with about 500 personnel from the US Navy and Coast Guard.

Commodore Philip Cacayan of the Eastern Mindanao Naval Forces said the exercises had nothing to do with the Philippine territorial dispute with China over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), whose ownership both countries are claiming.

The exercises include in-port training, expertise exchanges, diving and salvage training on General Santos Bay, Sarangani, and medical/dental/engineering civic action projects and community relations activities in different parts of General Santos City and Glan in Sarangani.

Cacayan said the Americans had installed sophisticated radios on their vessels to address any communication gap.

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