MANILA - (UPDATE) Filipinos marched with members of the local South Korean community along Roxas Boulevard and Luneta Park Sunday to celebrate the anniversary of Philippine-Korean diplomatic ties.
The so-called "friendship festival" also featured stunt performances by taekwondo practitioners and songs by visiting K-pop groups--modern images of Korea more familiar to Filipinos.
But not many Filipinos know the 70-year-old connection of the two countries was also forged in war.
South Korea owes a debt of gratitude to more than 7,400 Filipinos shipped to the Korean peninsula beginning in 1950 to defend the South from invasion by North Korea.
Of this number, 112 Filipino soldiers died.
South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man lauded the soldiers dispatched by the United Nations Command to repel Chinese and North Korean forces.
"I strongly believe today's Korea would not be enjoying peace, democracy, and economic prosperity without the dedication, devotion, sacrifice of the Filipino war veterans. We will continue to honor the veterans," Han said.
At the start of the anniversary celebration in Manila, Han and other Korean community leaders paid their respects at the Filipino-Korean Soldier Monument and the Soul Waves sculpture in Luneta, which was built for the 60th diplomatic anniversary in 2009.
Han said Filipinos who served in the Korean War, like former President Fidel Ramos, were considered heroes in South Korea.
"I call [Ramos] my hero, because all the veterans deserve the title of hero. So in honoring our veterans we will continue to strengthen our partnership," Han said.
Han said Ramos sent him a message for the Korean embassy's upcoming symphonic concert to honor Filipino veterans of the war. It will be held on June 25 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
"With the other Korean war veterans, still [Ramos] has strong belief that Korea and the Philippines share the same values such as democracy, market economy and freedom," Han said.
The Filipino connection to Korea today, Han said, now includes trade, tourism, student exchanges, and the spread of the "Hallyu" cultural wave.
"We have enjoyed a very wonderful, excellent relationship. Together we will march again for the next 70 years," Han said.