SEOUL– Around 300 veterans from 21 countries that fought in the Korean War under the United Nations flag commemorated the 60th year of the armistice agreement that ended three years of fierce fighting between the North and South although no peace treaty was forged.
Former President Fidel Ramos and his fellow Filipino war veterans, (identified with their ranks as they retired): Generals Benjamin Santos and Prudencio Regis; Colonels Vicente Alhambra, Ishmael Rodrigo and Jovencio Dominguez; and Lieutenants Dionisio Layaoen and Severino Aquino attended the ceremony that expressed South Korea’s gratitude to the 21 UN member countries that helped defend their democracy and sovereignty.
Alhambra, who was an intelligence officer in the war, is the oldest among the group at 97 years old.
The Philippines was one of the 16 UN member countries that sent combat units to the Korean War while five others provided medical support.
While the ceasefire has held for six decades, many still yearn for closure to the war and some, a reunification of the two Koreas.
“It is deeply regrettable that the situation in the Korean peninsula remains fragile and volatile. Inter-Korean relations have remained deadlocked for far too long,” UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon said in a message read by a representative at the ceremony.
South Korea’s first female President Park Gyeung Hye also delivered a message.
The ceremonies included a traditional Korean dance and a parade of flags of the UN, South Korea, and the 21 nations in a tribute where Korean children sang “That’s What Friends Are For,” bringing tears to not a few of the attendees.
The war broke out on June 25, 1950 with the unexpected attack of the communist North Korea on the South. Days later, the UN called its member nations to help South Korea.
According to UN records, the Philippines sent a total of 7,420 soldiers, 112 of whom were killed, 229 were wounded in action, 41 became prisoners of war, and 16 remain missing in action.