He has been a company and battalion commander of Scout Ranger units. He was once Commandant of the Ranger School and Commander of the Civil-Military Operations Group of the Philippine Army. He has other various billets which would require a very long enumeration.
Now as regards our guest speaker’s highest military award for courage; he was THEN a newly minted Captain in 1995 assigned with the FIRST SCOUT RANGER COMPANY of the PHILIPPINE ARMY, when the platoon he was leading engaged a group of 20 Abu Sayyaf insurgents in Isabela, Basilan. The Abu Sayyaf reinforced their forces as the insurgents were within their bailiwick, until our guest of honor’s platoon was facing approximately 150 enemies. After 2 hours of fierce fire-fight with the insurgents, he sustained two bullet wounds to his right forearm; a third bullet wrecked his rifle. His arm was almost severed; he had to bite his right thumb to keep the arm from falling off, as he kept on giving directions to his men. He then switched to firing left-handed while giving his men directions. The firefight ended after four hours, with the arrival of reinforcements from the SCOUT RANGER COMPANY, and with him being wounded, three more times.
He recovered the use of his hand and arm and has remained in active service since then. For his heroic actions in this battle with the Abu Sayyaf insurgents, he was conferred the Medal of Valor in 1996.
He was recognized as an Outstanding Philippine Soldier in the Combat Category in 1995. In February 1997, he was also awarded the PMA Cavalier Award, the highest recognition given by the PMA Alumni Association Incorporated to an alumnus who excels in his field. He received the Award of Excellence for Public Service from the Governor of his province, Negros Oriental, in 2012.
In February 2019, our guest of honor and speaker received the Award for Continuing Excellence and Service (ACES) of the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. as one of the 40 exceptional men and women who have set a worthy example for every Filipino to emulate. In May 2019, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte bestowed him the Philippine Legion of Honor (Degree of Legionnaire), for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service rendered to the Philippine Government, particularly to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He is happily married to Madame Edna Sobejana (née Iturriaga) with five children: Mae Suzanne, Mae Suzzette, Sheena Joy, Sean Jayson and Siegfried Joshua.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am most honored to present to you our GUEST OF HONOR and SPEAKER, the only military officer in the whole world who is authorized to render a left-hand salute, LIEUTENANT GENERAL CIRILITO E. SOBEJANA.
I do not claim to know all the national anthems of the more than 190 countries in the world today.
But I know that in our beloved Philippine NATIONAL ANTHEM, the last phrase reads: “ANG MAMATAY NG DAHIL SA IYO…”, which in ENGLISH translates to: “TO DIE BECAUSE OF YOU”, and in the KOREAN Language: “NOE TTAEMUN-E JUGGI WIHAE…”
[To be pronounced as: NO TAYMUNI CHUCHI WHEEYEN]
Aside from that INTRIGUING phrase, the second stanza of our national anthem, also proudly chants as follows:
“Lupang Hinirang, Duyan ka ng magiting, Sa manlulupig, Di ka pasisiil.”
Which second stanza, as translated into the ENGLISH language would read:
“Chosen Land, You are the cradle of the brave, To the conquerors You shall never be oppressed.”
And in the KOREAN Language, it would translate to this:
[To be pronounced as: “SUN TEK DENG DANG”, “DANGSI-NEM”“YONG-GAMAN”“JAAY YORA MINDA”…
“CHANGBOK JAAY DE GE”…”DANGSI-NEM JULKO OG”“ABBACHI DA YU KEOS MINDA”]
The author of this national anthem of ours wrote the lyrics thereof in 1898.It was in fact played during the inauguration of the first Philippine Independence Day on June 12, 1898.
It can be said that in the subconscious minds of JOSE PALMA, who wrote the lyrics and JULIAN FELIPE who composed the music, is a reference to the oppression brought by the more than THREE (3) centuries of our country’s Spanish subjugation.
Clearly, the lyrics speak boldly about the oppression of our people during that bygone era.
However, in September of 1950, the fighting soldiers and men of the PEFTOK fought hard against a brutal oppression; against a bunch of rampaging conquerors who were 3,000 kilometers AWAY from our country, the PHILIPPINES.
And the fighting soldiers of PEFTOKfought hard, weathered the cold nights of sub-zero winters in that land, and even facedDEATH,and DIED for SOUTH KOREA.
And we must be proud to know that the Philippines was the very first Asian country that answered the call for help which was echoed by the South Koreans during that urgent time of need.
This is the very reason why we are commemorating this day, the 21ST Anniversary of the KOREAN WAR VETERANS of the PHILIPPINES MEMORIAL DAY and the 46th Anniversary of the PEFTOK VETERANS ASSOCIATION, INC.
The fighting soldiers and men of PEFTOK treated the South Korean people as our very own people, as our brothers and sisters, and South Korea as our very own nation.
Indeed, the deployment of the PEFTOK to the KOREAN War in September of 1950, is the paragon of supreme service to an allied nation and friend, supreme indeed, as the eventual cost is the supreme sacrifice of DEATH.
Thus, this day is also a celebration to commemorate the bestowal of honor to those who died in what has been regarded as the FORGOTTEN WAR. It may indeed be deemed as a FORGOTTEN WAR as it got eclipsed by both the more immense SECOND WORLD WAR and the longer and costlier VIETNAM War.
But what has made the KOREAN War most peculiar is that in the VIETNAM War, the Philippines only sent a civic action contingent. On the other hand, the SECOND WORLD WAR, a war which was principally waged by the US and that we were drawn into it, being a commonwealth country affiliated with America THEN. But with respect to the KOREAN War,our entry into the KOREAN War was for a distinct reason.
It was our country’s pledge as was re-echoed by President ElpidioRivera Quirinowhen he delivered a trumpet call before the 10th Battalion Combat Team of the PEFTOKat a public rally held inside the Rizal Memorial Stadium on September 2, 1950. Ten (10) days thereafter, the 10th BCT of the PEFTOK sailed to KOREA and arrived in Busan on September 19, 1950. And that PLEDGE is written also in our national anthem, as it runs, before the INTRIGUING phrase which I earlier mentioned, as follows:
“Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi,
Ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.”
Which translates in ENGLISH to:
“It is our joy if there will be oppressors
To die because of you.”
And as translated into the KOREAN language, it would translate this way:
[To be pronounced as: “OGAB JAGAAY” “IM YON OHYEE” “GIPPYUM IMNIDA” “TANGSING TAIMUNEE” “JUNGNEM GYON”]
For so many years now, we have been deluged by the continuing generosity of the South Korean government in terms of financial aid and donations as well, to the Philippine government particularly the grant and endowment to the military sector of cutting-edge military equipment and contraptions as well as aid to the PEFTOK. During this pandemic, various donations of face masks, testing kits and facilities, as well as goods and other personal protective equipment were made.
For a long time now, PEFTOK has embraced as its principal and core project for its veterans and their descendants, the scholarship program, which has now focused on the veterans’ 3rd level descendants.
And the South Korean government through its Korean Embassy has remained as the scholarship program’s constant and principal benefactor. In fact, in our recent meeting with Colonel Bae through the significant initiatives of Ambassador Han, an offer was made for additional kinds of relief to tide the indigents among the veterans’ families over, from the oppressive financial effects of the pandemic.
This continuing act of generosity by the South Korean government I am sure will strike hard at the very core of this commemorative spirit, of today’s celebration.
For in helping the poor veterans’ descendants, we will be able to mold and turn them into significant and meaningful members of our society towards that elusive dream of a better Philippines. A better Philippines, at par perhaps with the progress and prosperity that the South Korean people has achieved and has been experiencing for years now.
His Excellency Ambassador HAN DONG MAN, General FILEMON SANTOS Sir, Lieutenant General ERNESTO CAROLINA of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office; Colonel BAE JUNG HOON, Military Attache to the Philippines; Chairman SHIM JAE SHIN, of the National Unification Advisory Committee; President LEE JONG SUB, of the Philippine Department of the Korean Veterans Association; President BYUN JAE HEUNG, of the United Korean Community Association; Major General NATHANIEL Y CASEM, of the Philippine Marine Corps; Vice Admiral GIOVANNI CARLO J BACORDO, of the Philippine Navy; Lieutenant General GILBERT I GAPAY of the Philippine Army; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!
I am going to be 98 years old on July 30 of this year. Thus, the strict IATF health protocols have prevented me from personally gracing this momentous affair, the 70th Anniversary of the KOREAN WAR outbreak. But more than those health protocols, my wife’s and my children’s prohibitions were all much stricter and far more stringent.
A pleasant and good morning to all of you.
In my continuous service through more than TWENTY-SEVEN (27) years as a member and Director, and now, as the current President of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea Veterans Association better known as the PEFTOK or PVAI;I have committed to myself, to always grace this affair, particularly the yearly commemoration of the KOREAN WAR outbreak.
I always want to be present in this yearly celebration most especially when I assumed the Presidency, as I always want to hear and see His Excellency, South Korean Ambassador HAN DONG MAN, who looks so debonair as he is so resplendently attired in our native barong Tagalog.
Not only does Ambassador HAN’s good looks and stately stature amaze me, but what has distinctively piqued my interest is that Ambassador HAN always delivers parts of his speech and sometimes, the whole of it, in our own Filipino language. And it is truly, truly endearing to hear a foreign ambassador speak our own national language impeccably.
But much more special, Ambassador HAN’s voice would become so delightful and admirable as he would usually advocate more Korean business in the Philippines. For indeed, he has been a virtual and aggressive promoter of our Philippine economy with his peculiar motto. A motto that has reverberated in most of his speeches, urging the South Korean business people to INVEST, INVEST, INVEST in the Philippines.
It ought to be remembered that in one of the battles of the KOREAN WAR, the Battle of Miudong which happened on November 11, 1950; I initially thought that we, I and my men, were all caught in a hopeless situation, as we were furtively ambushed and the firing of bullets from enemy lines rained unabated. The armored tank that I was in, got trapped into a trench as we passed a bend, in a hilly part of Syngue, bringing the front part of the tank somewhat burrowed into the depth of the trench. It made me unable thereby to efficiently fire the armored tank’s main gun, the cannon. I then used my periscope. And there I saw the enemy forces who seem to be very ready or was then preparing to launch a push-forward assault as everyone of us got surprised and shocked with the heavy rain of fusillade. No one among us seemed confident to move, and not one was able to fire back at once, as they initially cowered to seek cover though I was much protected inside the tank. Thus, I got compelled to open the tank’s hatch, went out of the tank and grab the machine gun atop the tank’s turret. I fired the machine gun towards the enemy and with the continued firing, I felt that I brought much HOPE to my comrades-in-arms. They, my comrades-in-arms, then joined in firing shots towards the enemy and that battle was thereafter heralded as the FIRST BATTLE WON BY FILIPINO SOLDIERS IN A FOREIGN SOIL. There were 42 North Korean soldiers DEAD and another 100 NOKOR soldiers wounded, while all the other enemy forces fled. The Filipino side only suffered one mortality however – – my comrade-in-arms, the late Private ALIPIO SECILLANO.
Indeed, what I did during that battle which I felt brought HOPE to my fighting men, was when I went out of the tank and courageously fired back against the enemies.
Earlier on, I believe that it was sometime in December 2007, the then South Korean Ambassador, His Excellency, HONG JONG KI declared in one of our PEFTOK events that the South Korean government will exert their best and concerted efforts to make the Philippines at par with and on the same level or status as that of the South Korean economy by Year 2030. And that means TEN (10) more years of waiting. I firmly believe however that this goal can be realized.
Truly, I feel that that goal originally nurtured by the former South Korean envoy, which has been similarly nurtured by Ambassador HAN is attainable.
THIS HAS BROUGHT HOPE TO US, FILIPINOS, TO FEEL THAT SOMEDAY SOON, WE WILL HAVE A VIBRANT ECONOMY THAT WE’LL ALL BE PROUD OF, PERHAPS EVEN NOT AS VIBRANT AS THAT OF SOUTH KOREA.
I say this, as I have been told and as it has been reliably reported too that if not for this corona virus pandemic, the Philippines would easily be able by Year 2022 notch an “A” credit rating. This credit rating is one among the varied standard measures of evaluating the economic status of a country making it a favorable prospect for investors, which could without doubt lead towards our country’s vibrant economic growth.
This was actually confirmed by the FITCH SOLUTIONS INC. which do regular FITCH RATINGS and I learned too that prior to the pandemic, the Philippines garnered a “BBB” credit rating. This “BBB” rating was reinstated as of May 2020 by reason of the fiscal and monetary reforms done by our government and the economic management thrust cranked in into all aspects of governance during the pandemic.
It is noteworthy too, that the CEOWORLD magazine, flaunted as the world’s leading business magazine headquartered in New York, USA ranked the Philippines as Number 7 (with SINGAPORE on TOP) in a feature written by Dr. Emily Pidgeon, PhD entitled TEN BEST COUNTRIES TO INVEST IN POST-COVID-19.
Truly so, it has been reported that structural reforms and sound economic management over the years have provided our country the Philippines, with monetary and fiscal space to safeguard lives and support livelihoods at these critical times brought by the pandemic. As has been said: “HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL.”
And now I feel that the pessimism, the negative thinking, the gloom and doom which this PANDEMIC has brought into this world must now be briskly changed into HOPEFUL ASPIRATION into a BETTER FUTURE for all of US. With the grace of Our Lord Almighty God, this I believe will all come to pass. As was written by a poet:
“Because the bad times
Will not be forever
So don’t worry all your time away
So you can learn for the times ahead…”
We in the PEFTOK, wish to take this opportunity to formally thank the South Korean government for the continuing help and support which they have consistently shown and demonstrated as aid to our PEFTOK veterans.
Just recently, PEFTOK received a donation of FIFTY THOUSAND (50,000) pieces of N-95 protective face masks which were eventually farmed out and distributed to our PEFTOK veterans and their descendants all over the country.
Once again thank you SOUTH KOREA. And this donation of face masks, indeed is an explicit and vivid sign that South Korea truly CARES and SHARES for our PEFTOK veterans and their descendants.
Before I end this message, I still feel much pride until today that even in a very small measure, I was able to help the SOUTH KOREAN government recover the lands earlier occupied by enemy forces when the KOREAN WAR erupted. Most importantly, the South Koreans were able to win back their freedom and democracy.
On the part of my courageous comrades-in-arms, my fellow PEFTOKERS, I still also feel much pride to hear the late General Douglas MacArthur, who was the Supreme Commander of the United Nations forces in the KOREAN War then, as he lauded us, our own Filipino soldiers, when he made the following utterance after the triumph scored by the UN forces in the historic BATTLE OF YULTONG in the final phase of the KOREAN WAR: “GIVE ME TEN THOUSAND FILIPINO SOLDIERS, AND I WILL CONQUER THE WORLD.”
Thank you very much and once again, good morning, GOD BLESS US ALL and STAY SAFE!
[BIRTHDAY BOY REY is shown in this photo at CHINA’s TIANANMEN SQUARE with MAO ZE DONG’s Mausoleum as background during a pleasure trip to CHINA together with his partners at the RANADA MALAYA SANCHEZ & SIMPAO Law Firm IN 2009.]
Happy happy birthday to my IDOL, ATTORNEY REY…
VIRGOS born on September 4 most often display extraordinary BRAVERY;
Though they’ve lots of common sense, they’re still natural RISK-TAKERS – –
Independent-thinking too, and with much CHARISMA… ERGO, they’ve lots of affable ADMIRERS!
Being born on September 4, you’ve great deal of strong will, and TACTFULNESS…
You’re a natural problem-solver and a born leader, as you handle situations with much FINESSE;
You understand people, but more importantly, you know how to gently encourage OTHERS – –
To do what really is best, as it is indeed the proper and logical DRUTHERS!
Papang REY went schooling at the pontifical institute, the U.S.T…
Pursued therein a course which led to an AB English DEGREE;
Thence, took up legal tuition at the ATENEO LAW SCHOOL in PADRE FAURA at ERMITA – –
Being townmates – – thru his MOM, Fr. DE LA COSTA’s DAD, endorsed him unto ATENEO, ‘twas a sweet SAGA!
You’re easy to talk to as you enjoy the exchange of thoughts and IDEAS…
And you’re sharp-witted, who can challenge anyone in intellectual ARENAS;
Practical and hard working whose creed, is that it takes money to LIVE – –
But you’re kind and sympathetic too, as you would rather GIVE than RECEIVE!
Papang REY is a partner of the RANADA MALAYA SANCHEZ & SIMPAO Law FIRM…
He’s an esteemed partner therein, as his equally prize colleagues would AFFIRM;
His being an achiever and a considerate and patient COLLEAGUE – –
Has brought much synergy and prosperity unto their LEAGUE!
On this you natal day, this FANTASTIC FRIDAY, with greetings from a crude BARD…
I wish and pray that you’d be given an AWARD;
A prize perhaps that would extol you for your TACTFULNESS and KINDNESS – –
Or perhaps, to match you with a dainty lady who may be, bereft of caring, even perhaps LOVE-LESS!
Happy happy BIRTHDAY my IDOL, who in terms of FRIENDSHIP is one of the BEST!
[My brother WILBERT aka BERT is shown here blowing the lit candles atop a birthday cake. This photo was snapped during his natal day celebration last year following a brief respite while playing the usual weekend mahjong sessions at Daddy Max’s home’s premises. BERT is surrounded by some of our nieces and nephew: (From L-R: Winna, Ella, Rommel and Bambi)]
Happy happy birthday to you, my brother BERT…
As a VIRGO, we’ve the same zodiac sign per month of BIRTH;
Being born on September 2, you nurture the need to be in control of all aspects in LIFE – –
As you are very practical, serene, and so truly ORGANIZED!
You’ve a good leadership POTENTIAL as evidenced by your work JOURNAL…
You’re so devoted to your loved ones, but somewhat UNEMOTIONAL;
VIRGOS like you are always paying attention to the smallest DETAILS – –
As you’ve a deep sense of humanity, you’re most careful motto is aspiring for “NO-FAILS”!
You’ve a methodical approach that ensures nothing is left to CHANCE…
But you’re also comical at times, and would sometime PRANCE and DANCE;
And when the PRANCING and DANCING begins, the merriment goes BOLDER – –
And then and there, we’ll customarily hear your resounding signature HOLLER!
As you’re born in 1958, the EARTH DOG is your Chinese zodiac SIGN…
DOG persons are faithful, courageous, agile, smart and so very KIND;
Due therefore, for your having a strong sense of loyalty and SINCERITY – –
You’ll do everything for your significant other, as it’s your PROCLIVITY!
As a VIRGO person, you have a great understanding of human BEINGS…
You really know how human dynamics work, and all of their ON-GOINGS;
While others are often clueless regarding people’s ulterior MOTIVES – –
You’ve an instinct for seeing through and their hidden agenda would burst like EXPLOSIVES!
On this your natal day, this WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY, and a truly lovely DAY…
I wish to do a toast, a ringing and a loud HURRAY…
Your hidden talent of seeing through, an example of KEEN DISCERNMENT – –
Try it with MEGALOTTO, so AMY will win with the lottery’s recent COMMENCEMENT!