Filipino Soldiers, Korean War

More than a week ago, my husband told me that we should hang the “taegukgi” (Korean flag) outside the veranda. I asked why, and he said it’s for 현충일 (hyeon-chung-il) that is celebrated on June 6. 현충일 (hyeon-chung-il) or Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died for the country.

As we drove around the city on June 6, I was awed by the numerous flags hanging outside buildings and on the street lamps as well. I thought that if this is a day to honor the people who gave up their lives so South Korea will be free, then this is also a day to honor the Filipino soldiers who joined the Koreans and other nationalities who fought the Korean War.

A lot of movies have been made tackling the Vietnam War but not the Korean one. I guess it would not be called “the forgotten war” without a reason. I don’t also remember studying about the Korean war in school, but them I wasn’t a diligent student. I’ve known that there was a war in Korea decades ago and that Filipino soldiers also fought it, but my interest in that war only started when I came here.

On a visit to the Seoul War Memorial two years ago, I learned that more than 7,000 Filipino soldiers were sent to Korea in the 1950s. Of that number, 488 were either dead, wounded, missing or became prisoners. The Philippines was poor during that time (oops, still is) and yet we answered the call of another Asian neighbor to help them in their time of need. When I traveled to Washington, DC last year, I stopped by the Korean War Veterans Memorial. I remember the message written on the floor: “OUR NATION HONORS HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO DEFEND A COUNTRY THEY NEVER KNEW AND A PEOPLE THEY NEVER MET”. I think the same message applies to the Filipino soldiers as well.

In the Philippines, we celebrate “Bataan Day” on April 9th. It is also our “Memorial Day”. Back home, it was just another holiday for me that I’m happy to have so I could take a break from work. Now, “Memorial Day” is a day for me to thank those Filipino soldiers, who are one of the reasons I always walk with my head held up high in this country.

To read more about the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea, please visit this site: PEFTOK.

peftok exhibit at the seoul war memorial pict2842.JPG pict2850.JPG


video clip taken at the Seoul War Memorial

10 thoughts on “Filipino Soldiers, Korean War

  • October 4, 2007 at 11:17 pm
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    I would like to get the record for Benjamin Blair. IAlso, to see if he fought at Pork Chop Hill he is my uncle.

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  • October 4, 2007 at 11:21 pm
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    I hope I get!

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  • October 9, 2007 at 5:12 pm
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    i’m from manila philippines, my grandfather fought in korean war he’s name is ALFREDO DELFIN, i cannot remember exactly his rank & designation but i can only remember if i were not mistaken that he belongs to 5th BCT or 10th BCT…can i please have a copy of his records or something that can prove that he really fought there..they also said that he received a medal for fighting there but unfortunately lost when the place they’ve been living back then here in the philippines was gutted by fire….thanks a lot and i hope you can convey me some help…god bless…

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    • September 16, 2009 at 8:18 am
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      Alein Rey, I am Prof. Emely Dicolen-Abagat. I am a professor at the Catholic University of Korea and I was tasked to trace the whereabouts of the filipino soldiers who fought during the Korean War including their families, grandchildren, and great grand children because the University is thinking of offering them some scholarship programs. At the same time, I am doing a research along this line. Please email me as soon as you read this message. My email address is emelyabagat@yahoo.com. Hope to hear from you.

      Reply
  • February 14, 2008 at 5:22 am
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    During korean war,more advance un force wasn’t able to retake the whole of korea from comunist china. I think there was a political reason for that and that reason together with the casualties were all six feet under.

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  • February 15, 2008 at 4:37 pm
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    The Korean War happened during the advent of the “Cold War”. The US and the former USSR were trying to divide the world between them, and the poor countries like Korea (that time), Vietnam (1960s-70s) and Afghanistan (late 1970s-80s became the staging ground. I believe that Filipinos were also victims to this differing ideologies, the reason why we are still battling a half a century communist insurgency in our country. As well as the rest of South East Asia. In Asia, most of the support for the communist cause came from China. Then look elsewhere, during the 70s, any country trying to save their country from Communism receives big aid from the West. Its how the World works during those days and until now. There are major players, and they have their puppets.

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  • July 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm
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    hi the philippines during that time is not that poor..
    we are 2nd in asia in terms of economic status

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  • October 2, 2010 at 10:33 pm
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    i’d like to honor my father in my own simplest way for his being a korean war vet… his name is ALFREDO G. JOVEN… he actively took part in such war campaign… proud of him…

    i’d like to get records about my father in relation to the korean war…

    anybody please? help…

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  • August 31, 2014 at 1:24 am
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    I would rather say that the Philippines was still recovering from the ravages of the Second World War, not poor. Thanks to war reparations, the economy somehow went back on track.

    Reply

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