CANDABA, Pampanga, Philippines?South Koreans paid respect to Filipino veterans of the 1950 Korean War, erecting on their behalf a friendship monument here in a ceremony on Thursday.
But the aged soldiers, some of them already 90 years old, said the South Korean government must also give financial support to help their dwindling numbers.
A delegation of a hundred South Koreans showed up at the Korean veterans? 61st anniversary program to unveil the friendship monument and initiate their first ?Pumassi (cooperation)? event in the Philippines.
?It?s time for South Korea to pay back. It?s time to return [gratitude] to war veterans of the 21 countries for all their sacrifices and contributions,? retired Col. Paterno Viloria, 87, president of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (Peftok), told Kyeong-Jae Lee, a member of the national assembly.
Korea finances an annual $300,000 educational scholarship fund for the dependents of war veterans, but Viloria described this goodwill act as ?just chicken feed.?
He said South Korea has risen to become a leading ship builder, and now ranks fifth in car manufacturing.
Based on Peftok records, the Philippines deployed 7,420 combat troops to Korea in 1950. At least 112 men died in action in a war that also left 299 wounded.
Peftok said 41 Filipino soldiers were taken as prisoners of war and repatriated. Sixteen of them are still listed as missing in action.
?We fought to stop the spread of communism,? said Viloria.
He said help must come fast because only 20 percent, or about 1,400 Korean War veterans, remain alive.
?We [will] return. We will [initiate] a number of cooperation [projects] in the future,? said Lee, who is also chair of the nongovernment organization Human Hospitaller Organization (H2O).
?We?re here to support you, help you make your country successful once again,? he said.
?Pumassi? is the equivalent of bayanihan in the Philippines, said Bae Heung Han, chair of ?Thank You from Korea,? this year?s Pumassi movement.
The monument, which features a bronze figure of a bird in flight, is a ?symbol of sincerity,? said Hee-Goo Rhim, executive director of H2O. ?We don?t forget Filipino help,? he said. Tonette T. Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon