On September 19, 1950, the first Filipino soldiers landed in Busan, South Korea, to fight in the Korean War.
The Philippines was the eighth country to send combat troops to South Korea in response to the call of the United Nations to its member states to help South Korea in its war with the North.
The Pinoy soldiers were the sixth largest contingent of about 7,420 soldiers under the United Nations command. These Pinoy soldiers were the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFToK). Sadly, 112 Pinoy soldiers were killed in action.
This week, the former Philippine President, Fidel Valdez Ramos (popularly known as FVR), who participated in combat during the Korean war, came to Seoul along with about 30 other Filipino veterans of the Korean War in order to commemorate the contribution of the Filipino soldiers in the Korean war.
I am proud being a Pinoy here in South Korea knowing that 60 years ago, the gallant Filipino soldiers came here, sacrificed their lives, and helped achieve the peace and democracy that every one here is enjoying.
I am grateful as a Pinoy and an advocate of democracy for the sacrifices of those Filipino soldiers, knowing that they have contributed, in one way or another, to the laying of the foundation of peace and stability of the Korean society on which much has blossomed, changed and advanced to what South Korea is now.
I may never meet and express my gratefulness to these Filipino soldiers who came to South Korea sixty years before me. But I promise not to forget their sacrifices, as I invite you to do the same as well.
So, to FVR and the Filipino soldiers of PEFToK, I salute and thank you!
(Photos above were taken during FVR's visit to the Philippine embassy in Seoul on September 13, 2010. The lady in blue is the former First Lady Ming Ramos, while the gentleman in gray suit is the Philippine ambassador, the Honorable Luis Cruz).