Daddy Max and President Fidel V. Ramos both served in the 1950 Korean War as proud members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, also known as the PEFTOK. Daddy Max served as 1st Sergeant of the Reconnaissance Company of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (“10th BCT”) which was the first of FOUR (4) battalion combat teams which were sent to Korea. Pres. Ramos served as 1st Lieutenant of the Headquarters Service Company of the 20th BCT. Perhaps, during those times when the Korean War was raging, they never got the chance to meet and relate with each other as not only do they belong to different battalion combat teams but that Pres. Ramos was then already a military officer while Daddy Max was a mere enlisted man.
However, as they eventually became active officers of the PEFTOK Veterans’ Association, Inc. (“PVAI”), an aggrupation of Korean War veterans, with Pres. Ramos being regarded as the virtual Chairman-Emeritus of PVAI, and Daddy Max as the perennial 10th BCT PVAI President; they ultimately have been hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with each other every time the anniversary of Korean War is celebrated and remembered for so many years now.
On September 28, 2013 (a Saturday) Megan Young, the Philippine entry to the MISS WORLD won the title and it brought the biggest joy to the people of the Philippines as the Miss World title seemed to have been so elusive despite the fact that Philippine entries to other equally prestigious beauty pageants, have earned the Philippines a couple of Miss Universe titles already.
On September 30, 2013 (a Monday), at around 11:00 AM my Law Office telephone rung and my loyal and hardworking Secretary, Romelyn “Ella” Hadap, picked up the phone and as I was just in front of her when the phone rung, I could sense that she got a bit flustered and thereafter excitedly told me: “SIR, SI PRESIDENT RAMOS DAW PO SIR!” [English translation: Sir, it’s President Ramos Sir!]
I thought for a while that it could just be a continuation of some kind of thanking me for the biographical book which I wrote for Daddy Max, as I gifted Pres. Ramos with a copy of the book with my dedication as well as the dedication of Daddy Max inscribed on its frontispiece. This was my perception as earlier, Pres. Ramos sent me a thank you note for the book.
When I answered the phone, the caller was actually male Secretary who was on the other line and after checking if I were Atty. Walter T. Young, the voice on the other line told me: “President Ramos would like to talk to you.”
I waited for a moment on the phone and after a couple of seconds, I heard the familiar voice of Pres. Ramos, who sounded so friendly and amiable, as he called me by my fist name, and he said: “WALTER, THANK YOU FOR THE BOOK, I ENJOYED READING IT.” And I answered: “YOU ARE WELCOME SIR.”
And Pres. Ramos continued as though enthusiastically expecting an affirmative reply, spoke in the vernacular: “OO NGA PALA, KAMAG-ANAK NYO BA SI MEGAN YOUNG?” [English translation: By the way, is Megan Young your relative?]
I was tempted to lie and boast and was about to say that yes, Megan Young is our relative, instead, I jestingly replied: “SA TOTOO LANG PO MR. PRESIDENT, HINDI KO PO ALAM, PERO ANG ALAM KO PO AY ANG LOLO PO NAMING AMERIKANO AY NAGPUNLA PO NG MARAMI NOON PONG MATAPOS ANG GIYERA.” [English translation: To be honest Mr. President, I really do not know, but what I know Sir is that my grandfather sowed a lot wild oats during his lifetime after the War Sir.]
From what I heard from his end, Pres. Ramos seemed to have snickered as I could sense a half-suppressed laughter. “Well”, Pres. Ramos chortled with some sense of levity, “I am giving you this assignment huh, you better conduct an investigation to determine whether Megan Young is your relative.”
After this, Pres. Ramos changed his tone and somewhat became serious: “You know, I am not actually personally interested with Megan Young, what I want this government to do is to develop this kind of young talents!”.
And Pres. Ramos continued as though I could descry a frown on his forehead: “The problem with our government is that it is not doing enough to develop this kind of young talents.”
Then, in another serious mode, Pres. Ramos continued: “You see what they did in Zamboanga… when I was President I really took care of Zamboanga… but can you imagine how they allowed the gun battle there, which has resulted in loathsome carnage.”
After some more witty remarks from the former President, I was swayed to make the following reply and I said: “Mr. President it cannot be denied Sir, that among all the Presidents of the Philippine Republic after the EDSA revolution, you were the only one who has made an auspicious and remarkable change in our economy which has remained unprecedented, Sir.”
Before I could even finish my statement, Pres. Ramos interjected and butted in: “Huwag mo nang sabihin yan, marami na ang nagsasabi niyan sa akin eh.” [English translation: Do not say that anymore, a lot of other people has told me that already.”]
Before we finished our phone conversation, Pres. Ramos invited me and Daddy Max to come to his office at the 26th Floor, Export Bank Plaza, Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue corner Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Metro-Manila. And before I could hang up the phone, Pres. Ramos repeated his exhortation: “Walter, you investigate and check whether Megan Young is your relative.”
And I uttered in reply a snappy: “YES, SIR!”.
By way of a post-script; I and Daddy Max with my colleagues in my Law Office went on the Wednesday, October 2, 2013, following his invitation to his (i.e. Pres. Ramos’) Makati office where we were treated with spicy red wine, his own version of “sexy” coffee and a tightly-rolled bundle of “miraculous” cigars wrapped still in diaphanous and crisp cellophane with the presidential logo.