Bulan And The Korean War – by rudybelen

( actually  posted as a comment to A Message To Us Filipinos…but it is important to remember the past and our forgotten heroes of Bulan. So let’s put them here to the front as our tribute. jun asuncion )

sorry guys, i can’t really help myself but respond to this commentary. a whooping excitement and enthusiasm hit me while reading this write up! again, i became very nostalgic because my memory of my late father immediately flashed back while pouring at the article. my father was a veteran of the Korean War of the mid 50’s, he was a member of the legendary 14th BCT (Battalion Combat Team, no connection, relation/affiliation whatsoever to the controversial BCT!!!) or Avenger Team of the famed PEFTOK (Philippine Expeditionary Forces To Korea). my father was a staff sergeant then, well known personalities are also members of this team, famous of them all is Pres. FV Ramos, the late Col. Nicanor Jimenez who later became PNR manager and others who became prominent personalities. there were handful of soldiers from Bulan too who were also members of this team amongst them is Mr. Chavenia and others i can’t recall their names. they were posted to defend the positions of the Allied Forces along the notorious 38th parallel dividing the North and South Koreas. this team was so famous because they were the one who stood out, hold out and valiantly and fearlessly put up a resistance fight against the numerically superior advancing communist Chinese enemy beyond the 38th Parallel during the height of the Korean War. it was Christmas time on that fateful day, when they were assaulted and were almost annihilated by their opponent. without that heroic resistance, the tide has almost turned in favor of the communists and possibly we have only a single Korea today. it also prompted Gen. D. McArthur to decide and almost dropped the big A at China that would have almost made history about the only second nation to suffer from a nuclear attack.

my father used to narrate me the story of the Korean children who were fleeing the war – they wear nothing, as in bare skin only – totally nude in the middle of the winter season, running away from the war zone. these children, adults and old alike were so starved and were scavenging for anything and whatever things they can find to digest including eating grass – so pitiful! there were so many orphans who were left behind and no one cared or helping them because everyone were so frightened of the advancing Chinese communist forces! every time he told me this story he was almost teary eyed and he has nothing to say but express and articulate how lucky we are compared with the Koreans. it always inspires me every time i read his book of memoir – the chronicles and account of their heroism, sacrifices and daring exploits. i almost lost my father and may not have seen him before i was born. there was a part in that book that described how he was almost killed while he was lolling time reading books or comics inside their bunker when suddenly a mortar shell landed right beside him. he was so damned lucky – the bomb did not explode!!! i’m very proud of my father he had the chance to serve the country unselfishly.

during my college days or late high school days i would say, i started to became more aware of the national issues, more on economic issues mostly. my sister used to subscribe to Reader’s Digest, i started reading it and found it to be very informative. i find it very enlightening and educational reading about travelogue, cold war information about the two superpowers’ invincibility and capabilities (air force, navies, MIRV’s, battle tanks, etc.) and mini novels but i was particularly interested on the economic performances of Asian countries. Digest used to give comparative information on the weaknesses, strengths and forecasts of a broad Asian economies including the Philippines. there was interesting comparison then between ROK and RP, both were under martial law, both were ruled by former military strongmen and were economically strong (Philippines posted its highest -10% GDP growth during the ML days under Marcos.), rest of SE Asia except for Singapore are forgetful. Time and NewsWeek usually writes articles about the economic activities of the two countries, investments policies, etc. side by side they were performing well until the Philippines during the mid 70’s started to falter and ultimately ended up at the bottom and became the laggard performer. the Philippines has started to earn the moniker “the sickman of Asia”. but it was not an overnight process, we were only second to Japan after the WWII, what happened? i will always remember the weary and disparaging comment of the Digest – a very disappointing Philippine economic performance, it was expected that the country should be doing well, given the abundant natural resources, educated and skilled workers. most probably it’s upon the leadership, but both leaders are visionary, strong, disciplinarians, pragmatic and idealistic. but Park Chung Hee was not probably affected and influenced by his colleagues and his wife. Park’s wife is seldom seen in the limelight but it’s the other way around compared to Marcos, Imelda has been very active politically. so it could have been the “woman behind every man’s success” (in our case – failure). another thing is our culture, we are too much concerned about what the church will say. have you seen monks milling around Korea’s political affairs – none! in this country we have a lot – there’s the running priest, there’s the “jueteng” crusader, there’s the protector(s) of whistle blowers and coup plotters (lozada, ong, the magdalos, etc.), there’s a bishop turned governor, you name whatever it is we have it. the young Korean in his essay is absolutely right, the church only told us to love our neighbor but never or seldom hear them preach love your country. it’s a pity – a foreigner and a student at that can accurately pinpoint the woes of our nation.

when i was handling project management for a big budgeted investment in our company (several countries were competing) i came across and meet several government agencies and people. there i learned Marcos was really a visionary man while inquiring on the capabilities of the country’s infrastructure and future plans of the government. we were given presentations about the plans and future of the Philippine aviation and its history, Marcos during his time has already foreseen the need and has working plans to relocate the airport outside Manila. he envisioned it to be located at the Manila Bay – way, way ahead of the Hongkong airport and Japan’s Kansai at Osaka. myself and the Malaysians, Americans and Japanese who are with me were astounded and can’t hardly believe because at that time Kansai has already been operating and Hongkong’s is under construction. so when the first time i passed by Kansai airport on my way to the US, i was awed and amazed by the structure itself, the runway and terminal were constructed in a “floating” man made island outside Osaka. but i said to myself, we could have been the first not you guys (they are also employing senior citizens as airport employees by the way). Toyota Phils. first Japanese president was also surprised that here in Asia only in the Philippines he had seen an expressway outside Japan when he first came. he said to himself this country has a future and will go far. but he was surprised to see the same expressway deteriorating when he came back after twenty years. our military could not have been the weakest in the region if Marcos’ projects succeeded. my cousin has a first hand account of the Sta.Barbara project (which is off limit even to military men like him had it not been if he’s not a close in security of Marcos) with an objective to strengthen the capability of our military.

so what does it tell us… we can, for the reason that our people has the ability, the capacity, the talent to do it – to become a progressive community and as nation. our people has natural talent, we are gifted compared to other countries, with abundant natural resources, skilled, competent and capable people. we are agile, proficient, resilient and even wily said Marlon Brando. its true that Koreans are corrupt as the Filipinos do – they are the first to send an ex president to jail for corruption, founders and leaders of their biggest corporations (Hyundai, Samsung to name a few) were prosecuted due to same scenario. the Koreans may have envied us before but now no more.

unless we can emulate what the Koreans did, has the right leader who can guide us through, to challenge, to encourage and the most fundamental of all to ignite passion and the love for the country – we will envy the Koreans forever.

regards and God Bess…