MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III has received the Little Angels' Medallion, or the Korean War Hero Award, as a token of gratitude of the South Korean government to the Philippines for helping bring peace to the Korean peninsula.
The Philippines’ chief executive received the medallion along with a token Korean bowl from Dr. Pak Bo-hi, co-chairman and executive director of the Korean War 60th Anniversary Project Committee, during a courtesy call in Malacañang on Tuesday morning.
The President was also offered a rendition of a Korean song and the Filipino classic "Dahil Sa Iyo" by the Little Angels, the world-famous Children's Folk Ballet of Korea, which is on a tour of the 16 United Nations member-countries that sent troops during the Korean War.
Engineer Julius Malicdem, event coordinator of the Little Angels World Peace Tour in Manila, said the medallion and Korean War Hero Award is being given to the heads of state of the UN member-countries that aided South Korea during its battle against the invading forces of the North Korea from 1950-1953.
Malicdem said the President's father, the late Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., will also be feted as one of the awardees during the Little Angels' performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines set on December 14 and 15.
Then 17, Ninoy was the youngest war correspondent to cover the Korean War for the Manila Times that was then headed by Joaquin "Chino" Roces.
Because of his journalistic feats, Ninoy received the Philippine Legion of Honor award from then-President Elpidio Quirino at the age of 18.
This year, the South Korean government, through the media, sent letters of gratitude to the countries and the more than a million troops and personnel from other nations who fought for their freedom.
During the Korean War, more than 100 Filipino soldiers were killed, while others were wounded, went missing in action, or became prisoners of war as part of the more than 7,000 soldiers from the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea.
The Philippine contingent comprised the 2nd, 10th, 14th, 19th and 20th Battalions of the Philippine Army.
The Filipino soldiers took part in crucial combats in the 38th Parallel separating North and South Korea like the Battle of Yultong at North Yuncheon, and the Battle of Hill Eerie, which was won in part because of the bravery of a platoon led by then 2nd Lt. Fidel V. Ramos, who later became the 12th Philippine President.
During the Korean War, the Philippines was the only Asian country aside from Thailand to send troops to South Korea.
South Korea has risen from the war ruins and poverty to become the world's 15th largest economy today.
Pak, who also joined the war at age 19, narrated in their Web site that they were sent to the frontlines as new graduates of the cadet corps. He said their M1 rifles were no match to the tanks and artillery of the heavily armed North Korean invaders.
"Our country of Korea owes its life to the American soldiers, as well as to the soldiers from the other 15 UN-member nations who sent troops to the Korean War. It may take an eternity for Korea to repay this debt of gratitude. Without the sacrifices of these great heroes, Korea would not have its freedom, independence and prosperity today," he said.