Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps 1stLt Francisderick Corpuz, center, an air intelligence officer with Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, speaks to a Philippine Marine during Marine Aviation Support Activity 24 at Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines, June 18, 2024.Corpuz’s background as a Filipino native enabled him to deploy as a cultural liaison during MASA 24, bridging communication gaps and providing mutual cooperation between U.S. Marine Corps and Philippine Marines. MASA is an annual Philippine-U.S. military exercise focused on mutual defense, strengthening relationships, and rehearsing emerging aviation concepts. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez

From Two Nations: USMC 1st Lt. Francisderick Corpuz Bridging Cultures through Service in the Philippines

21 Jun 2024 | Lance Cpl. Jennifer Sanchez 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

1st Lt. Francisderick Corpuz, an air intelligence officer with Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, embodied a life woven between two nations, crisscrossing the Pacific in tandem with his father's service as a U.S. Navy corpsman. Corpuz is the sole sibling born in the Philippines among five, and he is now returning to his homeland as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Corpuz returned to the Philippines to support Marine Aviation Support Activity 24 as an air intelligence officer, overseeing critical operations and ensuring mission readiness within the squadron while keeping MAG-13 Marines informed of the area's safety, bridging communication gaps, and improving tactical cooperation. Corpuz speaks Tagalog, English, and Bicolano, all of which are dialects within the Philippines.

Corpuz's ability to speak fluently in multiple dialects played a crucial role in bridging communication gaps between MAG-13 Marines and Philippine Marines during joint air operations through MASA 24. This capability made him an invaluable cultural specialist, facilitating understanding of local rules, safety perimeters, and operational nuances.

"They told me that I was going to be the cultural specialist and teach my fellow Marines the local rules and safety perimeters," said Corpuz. "One time, the commanding officer brought me to Clark Air Base to interpret and speak Tagalog if there was any confusion and to ease tensions if there was any."

Corpuz's upbringing, which involved frequent moves between the U.S. and the Philippines, equipped him with a profound understanding of both cultures. This background enabled him to facilitate integration efforts between MAG-13 Marines and local communities during deployments and exercises in the Philippines.

"At first, I found moving back and forth challenging," said Corpuz. "But I came to appreciate the opportunity to experience different cultures and make new friends."

His family's ownership of a school provided continuity in education despite these moves, shaping his ability to reacclimate and build friendships in diverse settings, as displayed throughout his training in the Philippines. Corpuz always reacclimated to the culture and created friendships whenever he moved; ferrying back and forth between various U.S. Marine Corps installations and to the Philippines. He attended Robert McQueen High School in Reno while his father was a recruiter and later graduated from Sacramento State University with a criminal justice degree in 2019. There he decided to pursue a commission in the USMC through two six-week courses of Officer Candidate School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

"I always knew I was going to join the Marine Corps since my dad was a corpsman and attached with Marines," said Corpuz.

After his initial training at OCS, he remained in Quantico to attend The Basic School, 6 months of training every U.S. Marine Corps officer attends to learn the basics of leading an infantry platoon.

After overcoming a physical challenge at TBS, Corpuz continued on to an educational one, facing months of intelligence school before moving on to his first duty station at the MAG-13 headquarters in Yuma, Arizona. Upon checking in with MAG-13, Corpuz was provided the opportunity to deploy to Guam in support of MASA 24 , before joining his team in the Philippines.

MASA is an annual Philippine and U.S. Marine Corps exercise focused on mutual defense and rehearsing emerging aviation concepts, but most importantly building upon decades of shared interests, mutual respect and partnership.

"During our breaks, I talk to the Philippine Marines and exchange stories," said Corpuz. “They're always curious about how I moved and joined the Marine Corps, so we always end up talking for over an hour."

His role extended beyond operational duties; returning to the Philippines also allowed Corpuz to reconnect with extended family during liberty days and introduce his Marine colleagues to Filipino culture. This cultural exchange not only strengthened personal relationships but also enhanced operational effectiveness by fostering a more cohesive and culturally aware team. "It's just always good to be back, talk to my fellow Filipino brothers, experience the culture again, this time with my Marines," said Corpuz. "It's always fulfilling to reconnect with my Filipino roots, share authentic Filipino cuisine with my Marines, and visit family."

Corpuz’s cultural fluency not only eased tensions but also deepened connections with Philippine allies, highlighting the Marine Corps' dedication to effective collaboration and partnership in the Indo-Pacific region. His adeptness at bridging communication gaps, fostering relationships, and navigating diverse environments underscored his personal commitment to enhancing operational effectiveness and advancing mutual defense efforts in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“Dahil marunong ako mag tagalog madali ibreak yung language barrier, at dahil ditto yung pag communicate sa Filipino allies natin hindi masiyado stressful,” Corpuz said, meaning, “Me being able to speak Tagalog made it easier to break the language barrier, which made communicating with our Filipino allies less stressful.”

Corpuz's story is a testament to the Marine Corps' dedication to building alliances and achieving mission readiness through diverse perspectives and shared experiences.

More Media