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!