By JIM GOMEZ, AARON FAVILA and JOEAL CALUPITAN
ABOARD BRP MALABRIGO (AP) — When two Philippine coast guard vessels set out to patrol the volatile South China Sea recently, they had to face more than China’s growing territorial ambitions. The patrols are a constant battle against sun, sea, stress and gnawing isolation. The Associated Press joined a recent voyage, which provided a glimpse of what it’s like for Filipino coast guard personnel to work on the front lines of multiple geopolitical conflicts in one of the world’s most fiercely contested seas. Arrayed against far larger and more powerful fleets of Chinese coast guard vessels, navy warships and seaborne militias, the Philippine coast guard says its patrol vessels often face David and Goliath confrontations, especially near Beijing’s artificial island bases.