Philippines homecoming for Australian Navy officer

Published on LCDR Helen Ward (author), LSIS Peter Thompson (photographer)

Location(s): Manila, Philippines

Topic(s): HMAS Adelaide (L01), Indo-Pacific Endeavour

Lieutenant Commander Lucito Irlandez is seen aboard HMAS Adelaide during Indo Pacific Endeavour 2017. (photo: LSIS Peter Thompson)
Lieutenant Commander Lucito Irlandez is seen aboard HMAS Adelaide during Indo Pacific Endeavour 2017.

One crew member onboard HMAS Adelaide was keener than most to get ashore when the ship recently visited Manila, Philippines, because it was the first chance to see his mother and brother in more than five years.

Lieutenant Commander Lucito Irlandez was born in Manila before migrating to Australia in 1990.

“It was my love of travel and sense of adventure that inspired me to leave my family and seek new opportunities in Australia,” Lieutenant Commander Irlandez said.

“One of my jobs in Manila was as a college instructor teaching engineering so in Australia I soon found a civilian job at HMAS Nirimba, in Western Sydney, teaching electronics to Royal Australian Navy apprentices and sailors.”

When Nirimba closed in 1994, Lieutenant Commander Irlandez moved to HMAS Cerberus in Victoria and continued teaching sailors in the Radio Building and then in the Technical Training Faculty.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Lieutenant Commander Irlandez decided to join the Navy as a Training Specialist Officer and pursue further opportunities.

“I really enjoy teaching and one of the highlights of my career has been teaching Filipino students under the Defence Cooperation Program,” Lieutenant Commander Irlandez said.

“On day one when I first walk in the classroom you can see the Filipino students are so scared, but once I talk to them in their native language they instantly relax and feel like I am an old friend.

“The Filipino culture is famous for hospitality, everyone knows their neighbours by first name.

“You can knock on their door any time and be served a meal; it is the thing I miss most.”

Lieutenant Commander Irlandez is the Training Officer onboard Adelaide responsible for managing the training for the entire crew of about 400 people.

“I need to ensure everyone attains the right skills and knowledge to successfully do their jobs, which means they have the right training at the right time to fight and win at sea,” he said.

Adelaide is currently participating in Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017, a regional deployment running from September to November 2017, focussed on security cooperation and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.