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RP Marks 58th Anniversary of Joining Korean War
Philippine Amb. Luis T. Cruz. addresses during a ceremony marking the 58th anniversary of the Philippine expeditionary forces' joining the Korean Warheld at Philippine Monument in north of Seoul on Sept. 30, 2008.

The 58th anniversary of the participation of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces To Korea (PEFTOK) in the Korean War(1950-3) was marked in a solemn ceremony held at the Korean War Philippine Monument located at Koyang, some 25 km north of Seoul on Sept. 30, 2008.

On hand at the meaningful ceremony were Philippine Amb. Luis T. Cruz. Gen. Ernesto Carolina, Undersecretary of the Department of National Defense of the Philippines, Gen.Victorino Azada, president of PEFTOK Veteran Administration and distinguished guests from Korean government.

The memorial monument was erected in 1966 to commemorate the victory of the Philippine troops in the Battle of Yultong in 1951.

Faced by the rushing Chinese troops, the 10th Battalion displayed great strength and resilience and they were at the forefront of the battle, defending the democracy and integrity of their freedom-loving brethren from South Korea.

"We stand here today, fifty eight ears since the first Philippine team set foot on the peninsula, to commemorate the soldiers whose heroism and sacrifice helped our South Korean brethren remain progressive and free, Amb. Cruz said in his address at the ceremony.

He then said that it is not enough that we commemorate their courage and valor today but "we have the responsibility to ensure that their sacrifices are not for naught."

Underscoring the need for the strong bond between the Filipino and Korean peoples that will continue helping each other provide a better life for two peoples, Amb. Cruz said that "we are obliged, with all our resources, to make sure that the stories of our soldiers do not get lost in the annals of history."

PEFTOK joined the Korean War in August of 1950. It comprised around 7,500 troops, and was the fourth largest force under the United Nations Command.

The PEFTOK took part in decisive battles such as the Battle of Yultong Bridge and the Battle of Hill Eerie. The unit operated with the United States 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division, and 45th Infantry Division.

When the Korean War broke in 1950, the United Nation Command (UNC), a coalition of 21 countries led by the United States, courageously fought to defend South Korea from the North Korean Communists.

It was the 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT), the first of the five BCTs of the Philippine troops, which took up early defensive positions on the day before the Chinese attack in the famous ``Battle of Yuldong" in 1951.

The battle demonstrated the incomparable service and heroism contributed by the Filipinos to defending South Korea and in winning back its democracy. As the first Asian country that fought against communism, Filipinos should be recognized and honored for their 7,420 military personnel who served in the Korean War.

The brutal winter of 1950 was the coldest in 200 years with temperatures well below zero. Despite this, the PEFTOK was without the heavy winter clothing that would allow its men to survive and fight in this arctic environment.

During the nearly five years PEFTOK was deployed to Korea they participated in a number of heavy combat operations and established themselves a solid reputation as tough, tenacious fighters in the hills of Korea.

Following is full text of speech made by H.E. Amb. Luis T. Cruz at the 58th Anniversary of the Participation of the PEFTOK in the Korean War at the Philippine Monument, Goyang City, 30 September 2008.

Gen. Ernesto Carolina, Undersecretary of the Department of National Defense,
Gen. Victorino Azada, President of the PEFTOK Veterans Association,
Esteemed officials from the national and local governments of the Republic of Korea,
Distinguished members and families of the PEFTOK Veterans Association, Officials of the Philippine Embassy, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen

On September 19, 1950, the first of five Battalion Combat Teams from the Philippine Army arrived in Busan to take part in what would technically become one of the longest continuing wars in recent history.

The Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea, or PEFTOK, proudly became the 10th Battalion Combat Team and the 3rd UNC ground combat unit to enter the Korean War after the United States and the United Kingdom.

Over a five-year period, a total of 7,420 Filipino men stood side by side with South Korean soldiers and other international regiments to help defend South Korea from the invasion of the communist North. They were thrust into unfamiliar terrain, guided only by determination to heed the call of duty and loyalty to the principles of democracy. For 116 of them, South Korea also proved to be their last stand as they paid, with their lives, the ultimate price of freedom.

Among those who took part in the Korean War is former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos who, to this day, regards South Korea with significance and esteem, as well as two former ambassadors to South Korea, the late Col. Nicanor Jimenez and Gen. Ernesto Gidaya. We are also blessed today with the presence of Filipino veterans and family members who flew all the way from Manila to join us in this meaningful occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We stand here today, fifty eight years since the first Philippine team set foot on the peninsula, to commemorate the soldiers whose heroism and sacrifice helped our South Korean brethren remain progressive and free. They were young men then, and very brave. They were honest men. They were men who lived for a cause and were willing to die for it.

But it is not enough that we commemorate their courage and valor today.

We have the responsibility to ensure that their sacrifices are not for naught. We need to protect our freedom with equal fortitude and conviction so that generations after us can benefit from the same liberty we now enjoy.

We must work hard so that the bond between the Filipino and Korean peoples will flourish, that we will continue helping each other provide a better life for our peoples. We reap today the benefits of this robust alliance in the form of political and economic partnership as well as people-to-people exchanges. South Korea is currently a major trading partner of the Philippines, its second main source of foreign direct investments, and its top sender of visitors.

We are obliged, with all our resources, to make sure that the stories of our soldiers do not get lost in the annals of history. It is our duty to inform the younger generation of their stories, for much learning can be had from their experiences.

I am honored to visit last Sunday two memorials erected in Yultong to mark the battle where the Philippine contingent displayed extraordinary strength and chivalry. Dwarfed by this bigger monument and almost forgotten over time, the memorials were last visited nearly four decades ago in 1972.

Because the bigger of the two Yultong memorials was the first of its kind commemorating the contribution of UN forces during the war, it was inaugurated with much fanfare in 1966, with high-level Korean Government officials even attending the ceremony. Today, with the help of our friends from the Korean Government, we are re-unveiling the markers to ensure that the stories of our comrades, of those who came before us, will never fall by the wayside.

For in their stories we will learn. And in keeping their stories alive and safe will we be able to give to them the greatest tribute we can ever pay.
In their memory we offer this day.
Thank you.

PEFTOK website has new home

December 16, 2009 9:09 am

MANILA, Dec. 16 — The only website honoring the Philippines’ role in helping defend South Korea during the Korean War has moved to a new home at

The updated website features more photos of the five battalion combat teams (BCTs) that served in Korea from 1950-55 as the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea or PEFTOK. The text has also been updated but remains a concise history of PEFTOK’s deeds in the Korean War (1950-53), and its role in rebuilding South Korea from 1954-55.

Website creator and Korean War historian Art Villasanta said the move to Blogspot was made necessary by the shutting down of Geocities, the website’s home since April 2000, in October 2009. The new website’s name is "The Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea."

"The heroism of our Korean War veterans and our country’s role in rescuing South Korea from communism should be remembered, especially by younger Filipinos, and the move to Blogspot will continue to do this," he said.

"I wouldn’t have been able to tell the world the story of PEFTOK without Geocities," Villasanta added. He noted the many emails he received from PEFTOK veterans, their families and from soldiers in some of the 15 other UN countries that fought beside PEFTOK who read the Geocities website.

Villasanta continues his mission of keeping alive the memory of PEFTOK. He was editor of two magazines about the Philippines’ role in the Korean War: Honoring Democracy’s Forgotten Heroes (2006) and Significant Filipino Battles of the Korean War (2008).

Villasanta's father, the late Johnny F. Villasanta, was a war correspondent for the Manila Evening News, the Philippine News Service, DZRH and the Agence France Presse during the Korean War.

He was conferred the Philippine Legion of Honor in October 1954 for his coverage of the war, one of the first war correspondents to receive the country's highest civilian award . The website is based mostly on the elder Villasanta's memoirs.

PEFTOK consisted of the 10th, 20th, 19th, 14th and 2nd BCT. Some 7,200 officers and men of the Philippine Army served in Korea under the United Nations Command that defeated communist North Korea’s and China’s attempt to conquer South Korea and turn it into a communist state.

Counted among the Filipino victories in the Korean War are the Battle of Miudong/Syngue, the Battle of Yuldong, the Battle for Combat Outpost No. 8 and the Battle for Christmas Hill.

Some 110 Filipinos died in the Korean War. About 300 were wounded while 16 remain missing-in-action. Less than 3,000 PEFTOK veterans remain alive today. (PNA) V3/PR/utb

Memorials for Pinoy veterans in Korean war re-unveiled

10/22/2008 | 06:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine officials re-unveiled in a small village in South Korea last week two obscure memorials to Filipino soldiers who fought for freedom in the Korean War.

The Department of Foreign Affairs website said Tuesday night Philippine ambassador to Seoul Luis Cruz learned of the memorials in Yultong, two miles south of the demilitarized zone.

"In the course of our research for a documentary on the Philippine participation in the Korean War, we found out that there were two memorials erected for Filipino soldiers by their comrades that have been forgotten by the public. We wish to promote awareness about those two memorials," he said.

He said the memorials are located in Yeoncheon County about an hour and a half from Seoul.

The memorials paid tribute to the heroism of the 10th Battalion Combat Team of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK), which suffered heavy losses while defending the lines from the Chinese offensive during the Battle of Yultong in April 1951.

"This marker is dedicated to the heroes of Yultong by their comrades in arms of the 20th Battalion Combat Team," he recalled the marker, now covered by vegetation and chipped in several places, as saying.

He said there is no indication when the small marker, which is about one meter in height, was put up.

A few meters away, also on top of a small hill, is a larger memorial erected in 1966 with the help of Kap-chong Chi, a war correspondent and current chairman of the UN-Korean War Allies Association.

While visiting the Philippines in 1965, Chi heard from Filipino veterans about a battle in Yultong where soldiers displayed great valor and strength.

Back in South Korea, Chi tried to locate the site of the battle using military history maps. In Yeoncheon, he also found the site of a photo taken of the soldiers as they were passing by a water tank.

Chi was surprised to find the smaller marker already in place in Yultong. The UN Korean War Allies Association then constructed a larger, 10-foot high monument of black marble (Chi himself made the design and funded the project) and held a formal inauguration ceremony on April 21, 1966 on the 15th Anniversary of the Battle of Yultong.

The DFA said Former Philippine Ambassador Pedro Ramirez, PEFTOK Association President Gamariel Marrikan, and high-ranking officials from the Korean government and the UN Command attended the unveiling of the monument, the first to be built by the War Allies Association to commemorate significant battle victories.

"Dedicated to PEFTOK, the heroic Filipino soldiers who on this soil fought for the defence of freedom and world peace," read the inscription on the second monument.

Ifficials regularly visited the memorials, including former President Fidel Ramos, then a commander of the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army in 1970, and Ambassador Benjamin Tirona in 1971 during the 20th Anniversary of the battle.

"Then, for almost four decades after, the memorials were slowly forgotten," the DFA said.

Chi believes that the strict security measures in Yultong and the construction of the towering Philippine Monument in Goyang City in
1974 gradually eclipsed the memorials.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense erected an enormous 17-meter pillar, sitting atop a 4.5-meter high base, in Goyang City on October 2, 1974 as part of the national government's initiative of dedicating monuments to each of the 16 countries that helped in the Korean War.

Distance-wise, the Philippine Monument is only 40 minutes away from downtown Seoul.

This massive monument became the popular emblem of the Philippine participation, overshadowing the two earlier memorials.

In 2005, former Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Jonas Sumagaysay started an annual wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the arrival of the PEFTOK in Busan on September 19, 1950.

For the past years, surviving Filipino veterans and family members have been taking part in the ceremony, which fortunately coincides with the Korea Revisit Program of the Korea Veterans Association.

Led by DND Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina and PEFTOK President Victorino Azada, four veterans and around 20 family members took part in this year's hosted tours from September 27 to October 2.

The Korea Veterans Association also awarded the Ambassador of Peace medal to Col. Rodrigo Jopson and, posthumously, to Lt. Edmund Nacion and Lt. Gen. Ramon Aguirre during an appreciation dinner on September 30.

It was also last September 28 that all three monuments honoring Filipino soldiers were finally visited, reuniting veterans and their families with concrete reminders of the bravery and gallantry of their comrades and relatives.

The DFA said more than 7,000 Filipino soldiers in five battalions served under the auspices of the United Nations during the Korean War,
116 of whom gave up their lives.

"To this day, in the absence of a peace treaty formally ending the war, the Philippines maintains a presence in South Korea with three honor guards detailed in the UN Command," it said.

"We are obliged, with all our resources, to make sure that the stories of our soldiers do not get lost in the annals of history. It is our duty to inform the younger generation of their stories, for much learning can be had from their experiences," Ambassador Cruz said at a wreath-laying ceremony in Goyang City on September 30. - GMANews.TV