Biyernes, Hulyo 5, 2019

ROK Fetes Warriors with Grand Concert




By Mortz C. Ortigoza

It was heart warming to see recently my 91 years old father and some Korean War’s veterans hugged and saluted by coat and tied South Korean executives at the lobby of the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City.
“Thanks for your heroism and service in saving our country,” a Korean who just darted off from his family embraced my pa’ and other octogenarian and nonagenarian former warriors for their gallantry and intrepidity in the first cold war between the United States and Soviet Union that ensued 70 years ago.

The formal attired event attended by the diplomatic corps lead by U.S Ambassador to the Philippines' Sung Kim, government luminaries, cadet corps of the Philippines National Police, and surviving spouses of the veterans and their descendants, was sponsored by the burgeoning South Korean government dubbed as The Korean War Memorial Peace Concert that celebrated 70 years of the Korean War and mutual exchanges between our country and the Republic of Korea (RoK).

SENTIMENTAL - Some members of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) pose for posterity with the South Korean soldiers during their sentimental journey in June 27 to July 2, 2019 at the peninsula. The journey was bankrolled by the grateful South Korean government. Unlike the Philippine Civic Action Group (PhilCag) who did construction and medical works in the Vietnam War, these PEFTOK guys sacrificed their lives and limbs shooting out with the Chinese and North Koreans in the early 1950s war.
Fourth from left is Army Major Maximo Young, the second awardee of the South Korea's Taegeuk (Medal of Valor) after Army Captain Conrado Yap. Young award was given by the Seoul government during the June 27 to July 2 visit there.

It was showcased by the world class RoK’s Seocho Philharmoniker throught the baton of conductor Jong-hoon Bae, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, soprano Rachelle Gerodias, baritone Byeong-in Park, Canadian famous trumpeter Jens Lindeman, and other popular talents. 


The Korean War, joined by the belligerent Philippines and 15 countries that were members of the United Nations, broke in June 25, 1950 (coincidentally the night of the concert at the CCP).
The 6-2-5 or June 25 upheaval or yook-i-o dongnam or Korean War as the moneyed Sokor or South Koreans called it  today or the Choguk haebang chŏnjaeng or the Fatherland Liberation War or the Choson (Korean) War as what those minuscule undernourished North Koreans dubbed them saw an estimated 2.5 million people dead.
According to the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea, among the SoKor there were 373,599 killed, 229, 625 wounded, and 387, 744 abducted or missing. Among the commies' NoKor they suffered 1, 550, 000 killed and wounded.
The Americans and the English speaking countries, called the battle there The Forgotten War had 33, 686 Americans dead while the ferocious Little Brown Brothers, sometimes amusingly called as Flips susmariosep by the Yanks, Filipinos had 112 fatalities and I did not know yet if the anting-anting or amulet had something to do about these immortality, er, minimal number of our casualties.
While my father, my 22 years old niece Abigael, and I queued for the tickets for the V.I.Ps section located at the first floor while the rest of the spectators contented for their space at the last three floors, Korean Marine Colonel and military attache’ Lee Youngjin, garbed in a snappy white ceremonial uniform, told me to proceed to the ticket section so we could get our gifts.


WINTER - My father, Marcelo C. Ortigoza, Sr., in a snow shrouded war at the Korean Peninsula in the 1950s.

Colonel Lee interceded before for my interview  with then Ambassador Kim Jae Shin at the Korean-Philippines Friendship Center in Taguig City.
 By the way, the RoK guys loved to give gifts in every occasion they had with the veterans and their families. 
After we accomplished the procedures we went to the dinner at the function hall of the fourth floor.
While we slowly trudge in sync with the frail gait of my old man to the elevator for the fourth floor some Korean males, who were active or inactive military men I surmised, rendered their salute to my father and other veterans.
As we approached the dinner tables awash with Korean dishes, a Korean in his long sleeve barong, shook our hands and told us to proceed to the vacant round tables for five people at the outermost part of the room.

Are you the ambassador of South Korea, sir?” I inquired.
“Yes,” Ambassador Han Dong-Man answered.
“Your excellency, I met you during the 19th Korean War Veterans of the Philippines Memorial Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). I interviewed your predecessor Kim Jae Shin . You speak good Tagalog I heard you before.

“Kaunti lang,” the ambassador retorted smilingly.


 WARRIORS TO WARRIORS : Filipino Korean War's veterans including my father met last month their counterparts former South Korean soldiers at the Demilitarized Military Zone (DMZ) in Seoul, South Korea. The Korean soldiers bore the brunt of the invasion of hundreds of thousands if not millions of communist North Koreans backed up by their Chinese and Soviet masters when the Southerners including the 8th Army commanded by the stringent  Lt. General Walter Walker were nearly pushed out to the sea of Pusan after the enemies almost occupied the entire Peninsula when they treacherously attacked on June 25, 1950.
 Pacific Supreme Allied Commander General Douglas MacArthur and the U.S Marines from Japan came to their succor. Douglas "Dug out" Mac was the genius behind the Inchon Landing that trapped thousands of enemies withdrawing from Pusan to North Korea. That genius dubbed the "Inchon Landing" is still being taught in military academies around the world for conventional warfare.


When I told my old man that Senator Franklin Drilon, a fellow Ilonggo, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana huddled with each other, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office’s Administrator Ernesto Carolina, a former Army general, appeared from somewhere and told us to proceed at the vacant round table.
“Sir, Congressman Bataoil won the mayorship of Lingayen (Pangasinan),” I told him about former police two-star general Leopoldo Bataoil and the chairman of the Veterans Affairs and Welfare Committee of the 17th Congress that he collaborated on veterans’ affairs held in Pangasinan and other parts of the country.

While I was busy munching  those sumptuous Korean foods like the spicy authentic cooked Kimchi two ladies told me they were the daughters of Army Captain Conrado D. Yap
“I know him! The huge PMA mess hall Yap Hall was named after him” I told them that I was born and worked at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City.
Camp Conrado Yap, a Philippine National Police facility in Iba, Zambales was also named after him, one of the sisters, I met in previous PEFTOK events, told me.
One of them added that Captain Yap, Philippine Military Academy Class of 1943, was a recipient of the Medal of Valor – the most prestigious military medal the Philippine government can award to a Filipino soldier. She cited, by referring to a photoed document at her mobile phone, that  since 1935 the Philippines gave this medal for 41 soldiers only.


Yap, a tank commander who died in a  counter attacked he led against the superior number of Chinese in the Battle of Yultong, was an awardee of the Distinguished Service Cross Medal. The Cross is the most prestigious military medal the United States can award to a non-U.S soldier. There were around 140,000 foreign soldiers who died in the Korean War  but Washington awarded this medal, son of a gun, to only 14 people.


The Zambales Province native was also a recipient of Taegeuk (First Class). She cited that it was the most prestigious military medal in South Korea. He joined General Douglas MacArthur, the genius behind the Inchon Landing that trapped 130,000 enemies withdrawing from Pusan, in a short list of the recipients of the SoKor's highest military decoration.

HERE'S AN EXCERPT OF A COLUMN OF MY FAVORITE COLUMNIST MAX SOLIVEN:

"DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI (It is sweet and proper to die for one's country)
"The Philippine Army’s last courageous mission was when we dispatched the battalions of the PEFTOK (Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea) to battle the North Koreans and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the defense of South Korea between 1950 and 1953, under UN mandate. In that conflict, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the South Koreans, the Americans, Brits, and other Allied troops, our boys distinguishing themselves proudly in every bloody encounter.
They’ve honored us with a monument near the DMZ – which this writer, an old-fashioned type, tries to visit every time I’ve returned to Seoul for a conference, or for coverage. When I salute that monument, a tear, admittedly tugs at the corner of my eye, for our lost glory. Dulce et decorum est, pro paria more.

READ MY OTHER ARTICLE


Daunting defense systems of Japan, Ph in case China attacks


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