Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

"To be sad is a beautiful thing. To hold your friend close and shed a tear for them in their grief, to say goodbye to that relative you never got to know and to hang your head in sorrow as the casket is carried off, and to completely lose all control of yourself and bawl as the one you truly love leaves you. Its all really quite lovely when you give it some thought. To feel such passion, such love that your willing to show an emotion that can cause so much effect. But when its all over. When the tears just can’t seem to come anymore, and the pain begins to fade, its okay. Smile. Cause you made it through and sometimes, thats the most we could ever ask for."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

“It’s sad when the people you know became people you knew. When you can walk right past someone. Like they were never a big part of your life. How you used to be able to talk for hours And now you can barely even look at them.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

Dr. José Rizal
"Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours,
their illusions, and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native
land? Where are the youth who will generously pour out their blood to
wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and spotless must the victim be that the sacrifice may be acceptable! Where are you, youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life that has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has been contaminated
in our brains, the fire of enthusiasm that has been quenched in our
hearts? We await you, O youth! Come, for we await you!" 

~Dr. José Rizal (El Filibusterismo, 1891)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy 78th Birthday to my Grandmother Teofista Bagares

My grandmother Teofista Bagares recently celebrated here 78th Birthday (September 20)...  in the video (above), she's playing the "Amazing Grace". I miss her so much. I have not seen her in person for the last eight years, since the day she bade farewell to me and my brothers in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The last time I saw my grandma, January 05, 2002 (NAIA)
Her 78th Birthday with most of the Bagares clan in Iligan... I wasn't there :(

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Philippines in the Korean War (60th Anniversary)

“Today we begin to write a wonderful page in our history, many of you have fought on our own soil to secure our freedom, you now go forth to a foreign land to fight for preservation of that freedom… but you who are to go now will be first to carry the flag of your own sovereign nation abroad in the war for freedom. What you will do will prove to all the world that this republic and all of you who are part of it have the will and power to survive… to make our own lives as we want them to be, and to keep them that way.”

“Poor as we are, this country is making a great sacrifice in sending you there [Korea], but every Peso invested in you is a sound investment for the perpetuation of our liberty and freedom. Your valor, your achievement, will show that free nations faced by a common menace of losing their civilization have the will and the strength to join together to remove this menace forever… It is not for us who will stay behind to urge you to be valorous, to be chivalrous, to be strong. It is for you to show us how to follow you in the valor, the chivalry, the strength with which you go forth”

(Philippine President Elpidio Quirino’s farewell speech to the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, 2 September 1950)

The Philippine 10th Battalion Combat Team (PEFTOK) marching drill in front of then President Elpidio Quirino and then United Nations General Assembly President Carlos P. Romulo in Rizal Memorial Stadium, September 2, 1950
One of the least mentioned part of Filipino history in the Philippine school system was the Philippine experience in the Korean War. Sixty years ago, the young Republic of the Philippines was still recovering from the ravage of the Second World War. Yet when the United Nations (UN) asked member states to commit troops in order to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea (ROK), the Quirino government did not hesitate to send the over 7000-strong Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK).

The Philippine forces were composed of war veterans of the Second World War and of the counter-insurgency campaign against the nationalist-turned communist Huks. Hence, the Filipino soldiers were the only military units with experience against communist forces at the beginning of the war.

In Korean War, most Filipinos will recognize three important historical figures. The most famous of all was the “honorary Filipino” U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the United Nations Forces and now a veteran of three major wars in the 20th Century. Then there were two other historical figures that most Filipinos would have never thought that they started their illustrious careers in this war. First, was Lieutenant Fidel V. Ramos, future President of the Philippines, fresh from West Point (United States Military Academy) and from the jungles of Luzon fighting the Huk guerrillas. Ramos was the Reconnaissance Platoon Commander of the Philippine 20th Battalion Combat Team and he would take part in one of PEFTOK’s greatest battles, the Battle of Hill Eerie in May 1952. Then there was Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., future Senator of the Republic, he served as one of the war correspondents accompanying the Philippine forces. Both he and Ramos would later on play vital roles in a much important event in the Philippine history. Aquino became a martyr that would inspire a revolution in which Ramos was one of the key figures.

Anyway, in this blog entry, I am going to talk about two of the many victorious battles of the PEFTOK forces.

In September 19, 1950 (today is the 60th anniversary), the PEFTOK's first contingent (10th BCT) arrived in Pusan, South Korea aboard the USS Sergeant Sylvester Antolak. The battalion was under the command of Colonel Mario C. Azurin who was relieved of his post two months later after arguing with a senior American officer (arguing with a senior officer is a direct violation of the military’s corporateness). He was replaced by Colonel Dionisio S. Ojeda. The first military engagement by the PEFTOK force was the Battle of Mui-dong, when North Korean guerrillas ambushed the 10th Battalion. The Filipinos lost one soldier but killed 50 of the communist guerrillas.

Battle of Yultong Bridge

In April 22-23, 1951, the Philippine 10th Battalion Combat Team fought one of its many battles and perhaps, the greatest battles that the Fighting 10th ever fought in the Korean War.

After the Operation Rugged and six days in the regimental reserves, the Philippine battalion returned to the frontline and relieved the 1st Battalion of the 65th United States Infantry. Colonel Dionisio S. Ojeda divided the battalion into separate units. Deploying the A and B Companies with the Tank Company (tank-less) on the frontline while, the Reconnaissance and C Companies remained in reserve. The Philippine battalion was flanked by the 2nd Battalion of the US 65th Infantry on the left and the 2nd Battalion of the Turkish Brigade on the right.

Here’s the account of the battle from South Korea’s Ministry of Defense (Vol. VI., pp. 313-315):

Just after the dusk, supported by the heavy bombardment of mortar and artillery, the hordes of Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) unleashed their First Spring Offensive toward Seoul, directing their main effort against the I US Corps along the Chorwon-Seoul corridor. The Turkish were the first to hit and their lines were penetrated as far as the reserve battalion position. This sudden situation caused to expose the right flank of the Philippine BCT’s B Company. The CCF forces shifted their assault toward B Company by a frontal attack 30 minutes after midnight and then another enemy wave hit the gap between B and Tank Company positions. The whole Battalion was soon subjected to intensive small arms and artillery fire. The left platoon (led by Lieutenant Jose Artiaga) of B Company was pushed back from their position at 0300 hours and, after four hours of furious combat, the enemy infiltrated as deeply as C Company in the reserve area. Each company  was dispersed and fought in confusion without contact among and between units. The Battalion command post also became a target of small arms fire. Notwithstanding, battered B Company succeeded in closing the perimeter of C Company at dawnbreak of the 23rd. All of cooks, chaplain, medics and drivers came to pick up guns and committed into the last stand. C Company was ordered to withdraw at 0640 hours when it was counterattacking with the support of Reconnaissance Company.

Three rifle companies also pulled out from their positions under cover of Reconnaissance Company but Tank Company could not be contacted until the radio communication became operational at noon.

In the meantime, Tank Company desperately held its positions and made a counterattack to retake the position of Lieutenant Artiaga’s platoon in order to recover the dead and wounded. When the radio communication was restored at 1230 hours, Captain Conrado Yap, Commander of Tank Company, was ordered to withdraw. However, Captain Yap and his men were on their way to counterattack. When a hill was taken, they counted less than one squad was left of this platoon and found still missing Corporal Bengala. Captain Yap called for volunteers to further search. It was two hours before sunset. A burst of fire from concealed nest had caught Captain Yap squarely on the front. For this action, he was posthumously awarded the Philippine Medal of Valor.

During this action, the CCF losses were more than 500 killed and two captured, while the Philippine BCT suffered with 12 KIA, 38 WIA and 6 MIA.
The Philippine 10th Battalion Combat Team counter-attacking at Yultong on 23 April 1951

Battle of Hill Eerie

In May 18-21, 1952, the Philippine 20th Battalion Combat Team fought one of their greatest battles in the Peninsula. The Battle of Hill Eerie was a seven-part battle between the United Nations Forces and the CCP. The Filipinos fought and won the last two battles in the Outpost of Eerie Hill. One to take the outpost for the final time and another to successfully defended the outpost for the last time.

One particular historical figure that would play a major part in the Philippine history, Lieutenant Fidel V. Ramos, distinguished himself in this battle. [Exactly 365 members or more than half of the 669 West Point classmates (USMA Class of 1950) of Ramos saw action in the savage war that lasted three years. Forty-one of his classmates were killed and 84 others were wounded during the war, representing 34 percent casualty rate, the highest for any West Point class than those in both World War I and World War II.]

Here’s the account of the battle from South Korea’s Ministry of Defense (Vol. VI., pp. 319-320):

A series of raids began 0915 hours on 18 May when a patrol encountered with 8 CCF at Eerie. The enemy fled to the north, leaving one dead and two wounded caused by friendly fire. The same afternoon, a platoon led by Lieutenant Rodolfo Maestro raided the Eerie. There were 28 CCF dead on the hill after a torrid 30-minute fire fight. On the next day, two daylight patrols also raided the shank of T-bone ridge for 35 and 13 minutes respectively and killed 23 Reds before disengaging with the enemy, while tanks, air-strikes, mortar and artillery added more casualties.

The final raid on Hill Eerie was launched in the early morning of 21 May 1952. Lieutenant Fidel V. Ramos of the 2nd Reconnaissance Platoon, with 3 officers and 41 men, organized his men into four teams as scout, rifle, sniper, and forward observer teams. At 0407 hours, the raiders crossed their designated line of departure and reached the attacking position of an irrigation ditch, 400 meters from top of Eerie.

Hill Eerie, well fortified with bunkers and communication trenches, was then defended by an estimated reinforced CCF platoon. Immediately after the planned preparation fires pounded the hill, the Filipinos began to assault up to the crest at 0700 hours. Within 10 minutes they reached the barbed wire entanglements of Eerie. Lieutenant Ramos and Corporal Jose Palis’s scout team (11 men) attacked through right finger to the right of the hill and rushed into bunkers, killing 8 CCF defenders. Attached engineers blasted and sealed bunkers without delay. On the other hand, the rifle team led by Sergeant Cipriano Drapeza advanced its way on the left finger toward top and as soon as making the physical contact with the scout teamon the right, engaged in covering fire while the engineers busied themselves in blasting the bunkers.

Lieutenant Armando Dizon’s sniper team, being tasked to prevent enemy supporting fire from Hill 191 immediate northwest of Eerie, was on their designated position on the southwest saddle of the Eerie and neutralized the enemy machine gun fire. At 0728 hours, while engineers were demolishing the rest of the bunkers, the enemy mortar shells began to hit the hill. But this mortar fire was too late to be of any help to their beleaguered comrades. The CCF outwitted by this surprising raid that lasted for twenty minutes. Their mission was accomplished. Lieutenant Ramos fired the signal to withdraw at 0730 hours. All participants were returned to their base without casualty. With exceptional gallantry, they destroyed 6 bunkers, 7 more damaged and 76 CCF were killed during the period of 18-21 May.

Lieutenant Fidel V. Ramos (right) and his colleagues in the Philippine 20th Battalion Combat Team, Korean War
In a separate account of the battle.

In June 2005, Ben Cal of the Philippines News Agency interviewed Ramos and Felizardo Tanabe (who was the 20th BCT’s tactical operation officer). Here is the account of that interview about the Battle of Hill Eerie:

In Korea the young Ramos had his baptism of fire. In May 1952 he was assigned to lead a 44-man team in an assault on Eerie Hill, a heavily fortified Chinese position with a commanding view of the plains below.

Then Major Felizardo Tanabe, the 20th BCT’s operations officer, said the Chinese on Eerie Hill “prevented the United Nations forces from advancing farther without suffering heavy casualties.” Taking it was a crucial but dangerous mission.

Armed with heavy weapons—howitzers, bazookas, mortars and .50-caliber machine guns—the Chinese had repulsed previous assaults by United Nations forces. The barrage from the Chinese artillery prevented even tanks from penetrating the defense perimeter.

The landscape surrounding Eerie Hill is much like the plains of Central Luzon dominated by the imposing Mount Arayat. Although smaller than Arayat, Eerie Hill overlooks roadways on the slopes and the connecting roads spread over a one-mile radius.

Col. Salvador Abcede, 20th BCT commander, had tapped Tanabe to prepare the assault on the Chinese position. “The observation post and the bunkers must be destroyed,” Abcede told the major.

Abcede’s battalion had attacked Eerie Hill nine times during the first week of May 1952, killing over a hundred communist soldiers. But still the defenders held on. The tenacity of the Chinese only intensified Abcede’s resolve to take the hill.

Picking the second reconnaissance platoon to attack the hill anew, Abcede ordered Ramos to capture and destroy it. It was an elaborate plan which included UN air support and artillery fire. Tanabe, as tactical operations officer, coordinated with the allied forces and briefed Ramos and members of the assault team.

Jump-off time was before daybreak of May 21, 1952. The assault team was up at dawn doing a final check on its weapons. The M-1 Garand rifles, Browning Automatic Rifles (BAR), two .30-caliber machine guns, grenades, bayonets and other equipment were all in order.

Ramos had grouped his men into four units: a 13-man sniper team led by Sgt. Cipriano Drapeza; a scout team of 10 headed by Cpl. Jose Palis; and a forward observer team headed by Second Lt. Cosme Acoste with two men.

The platoon had a radio operator, a messenger and a medical aid.

At 4:07 a.m., the platoon moved toward its objective under cover of darkness.

Ramos and his men crawled for two hours through rice paddies, occasionally tipping their canteens to quench their thirst. The platoon reached an irrigation ditch some 400 meters from the top of Eerie Hill. Next to the ditch was a wide creek with knee-deep water. Intelligence had estimated the hill was defended by a well-entrenched platoon.

Seven F-86 Sabre jet fighters of the US Air Force pounded the enemy positions with napalm bombs. The jets dropped more bombs as the Chinese opened up with antiaircraft fire. The F-86s, however, proved to be elusive targets as they streaked across the sky at 600 miles an hour.

Ramos waved his hand for the platoon to stay put as he radioed BCT headquarters to start the artillery bombardment. In a few seconds the barrage began. Aimed at silencing the gun emplacements, the artillery attack was equally risky to the attacking platoon. Any miscalculation could result in friendly-fire casualties and doom the assault.

The simultaneous artillery fire and the napalm bombs created a deafening boom. Through binoculars, Ramos assessed the battlefield and searched for the best opening for the assault. He found a hole that had been blasted through a stack of barbed wire. He radioed headquarters to stop both air and land assault to allow his men to advance.
Tanabe recounted that as the platoon neared the top of the hill, he threw a smoke grenade “to signal the lifting of the aerial bombardment and artillery firing.”
As soon as some of the Chinese defenders retreated, Ramos’s platoon seized the front part of the trench. Close-quarters fighting raged as the retreating enemy fought back ferociously. Sensing that they had gained the upper hand, the Filipinos were unstoppable.

The Ministry of National Defense of Korea says in its historical account of the Eerie Hill assault:

“From 0700 to 0710, Lieutenant Ramos’ four teams [scout, rifle, sniper and forward observer], moved and maneuvered up to the crest of the Hill. As soon as the assault teams reached the barbed-wire entanglements of Eerie at 0719, two tanks lifted their fire.”

The 10-man scout team headed by Corporal Palis went into action and there was a wild exchange of gunfire. Grenades exploded all over the place. As the riflemen kept firing, Palis and two of his men ran toward bunker No. 2, dropped several grenades and fired their guns, killing four Chinese.

Enemy troops occupying bunker No. 3 retaliated. At this instance, Ramos joined Palis. Grenades exploded on their right flank, on the left and in front of them. Luckily, none of the Filipino soldiers were hit. Hitting the ground on all fours, two of Ramos’s men suddenly dashed toward the bunker and exploded it.

Two enemy soldiers got out of the bunker but Ramos, who was just four meters away, opened fire, and killed them instantly. His reflexes heightened, Ramos rolled away poised to fire again at the coming enemy but there was none.

Then Palis told Ramos that they were running out of grenades. The young lieutenant immediately ordered his two-man demolition team to move in and blast bunkers 2 and 3.

Then as Ramos and his men were clearing the bunkers, Chinese troops occupying a connecting trench some 200 meters away opened fire at them. They instantly dived for cover. By this time the sniper team led by Sergeant Drapeza worked its way on the left side of the hill toward the north portion.

Fighting broke out anew as the Filipinos attacked bunker No. 4. To stop the platoon’s offensive, four Chinese troops ran out of their bunkers to hurl grenades, but were stopped with bullets by the Filipinos.

A close-range gunbattle ensued when what was left of the Chinese troops fired at the advancing Filipinos. The distance was so close that, in some instances, their bayonets clashed. Ramos ordered his men to move cautiously and remain calm as the last of the enemy troops retreated. He remained unfazed and determined to accomplish his mission with the least casualty.

On reaching their objective, Ramos requested his home base to resume artillery firing at coordinates, which he specified.

The assault lasted two hours. His mission accomplished, Ramos and his men made sure that the hill was firmly secured. He accounted for his men and learned that they had one injury. The enemy had 16 casualties.

The Filipinos’ fighting spirit earned praise from UN forces who watched the deadly combat from a distance using binoculars.

“Two American battalions were watching the action, which was the only battle that morning. The Americans were cheering and clapping their hands as they witnessed the 20th BCT platoon attacking the hill,” Tanabe said.

To Ramos, it was his first hill and first kill, a soldier’s initial journey trek “to hell and back.”

The next day, the assault on Eerie Hill and the bravery of the Filipino soldiers landed prominently on the pages of Stars and Stripes, an American military publication.

The Ramos-led reconnaissance assault on Hill Eerie was comparable to the Lieutenant Richard Winters-led Brécourt Manor Assault in the Second World War  (the assault featured in the ten-part WWII series, Band of Brothers) and to the fictional Captain John Gaff-led recon mission to Hill 210 in the WWII movie, The Thin Red Line (1998). 

The successful assault of the Hill Eerie outpost was not the last battle fought in the infamous hill because exactly one month after that victory, the Philippine 19th Battalion Combat Team successfully defended the Outpost (the seventh Battle of Hill Eerie) on June 18-21, 1951.


Philippines Expeditionary Forces to Korea:

Total Participation: 7,420 officers and men (19 September 1950 - 13 May 1955)
Casualties: 112 KIA, 299 WIA, 57/41 MIA/POW

The Battalion Combat Teams:

10th Battalion Combat Team (September  19, 1950 - September 4, 1951)
Commanders: Colonel Mario C. Azurin (September 1950 - November 1950) and Colonel Dionisio S. Ojeda (November 1950 - September 1951)*

20th Battalion Combat Team (September  5, 1951 - June 9, 1952)
Commander: Colonel Salvador Abcede (September 1951 - June 1952)

19th Battalion Combat Team (June 10, 1952 - April 2, 1953)
Commander: Colonel Ramon Z. Aguirre (June 1952 - April 1953)

14th Battalion Combat Team (April 3, 1953 - April 1954)
Commander: Colonel Nicanor Jimenez (April 1953 - April 1954)

2nd Battalion Combat Team (April 1954 - May 1955)
Commander: Colonel Antonio De Veyra (April 1954 - May 1955)

[*] Colonel Dionisio Ojeda, as Lieutenant Colonel served as the 10th BCT’s acting commanding officer in November before he was officially appointed battalion commander in December 1950.


We started this entry with a speech by humanitarian President Elpidio Quirino and we’ll end with words from Korean War veteran and President Fidel V. Ramos:

“The Republic of Korea was threatened with destruction, we Filipinos responded without hesitation. This show of willingness and commitment by the Philippines and its Allies in the United Nations Command led to a strong partnership with South Korea that endures to this day. Strength in partnership’ is, therefore, not a hollow slogan but a powerful watchword that reflects our two countries’ shared sacrifices during the Korean War,”

Former Philippine President and retired General Fidel Ramos, a Korean War veteran, salutes during the 60th Incheon Landing Operations Commemoration Ceremony, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010 at sea near Incheon, the coastal city where United Nations Forces led by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur landed in September, 1950 just months after North Korea invaded the South. - Lee Jin-man /AP Photo

My sources:

The History of the United Nations Forces in the Korean War (Volume I), The Ministry of National Defense, The Republic of Korea. 1977, pp. 295-378

The History of the United Nations Forces in the Korean War (Volume VI), The Ministry of National Defense, The Republic of Korea. 1977, pp. 307-328

The Glory of Our Fathers: PEFTOK (website), by Art Villasanta (his father, Johnny Villasanta, served as one of the war correspondents in Korean War and two-time recipient of the Philippine Legion of Honor)

Ben Cal, RP troops’ bravery in Korean War chiseled on Eerie Hill (Fidel Ramos and Felizardo Tanabe Interview), Philippines News Agency, June 2005

Korea War veterans from the United States and other countries parade on military vehicles through a street to celebrate of the 60th Incheon Landing Operations Commemoration, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010 near Incheon. - Lee Jin-man /AP Photo

For more extensive infos about the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea Check Out:

The Forgotten War (2009) movie poster
P.S. One of my favourite hobbies is collecting “War Movies”. As a Filipino living outside the country, I don’t have the luxury to buy the Philippine-made Korean War movie, “The Forgotten War” (directed by Carlo Cruz), firsthand. So if you [reader] can give me a link where I can buy the said movie (not pirated by the way). Then give me a holla here. Cheers!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words." 
~Rainer Maria Rilke (Austro-German lyric poet, author of Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, 1875-1926)

Bibingka Galapong (Coconut Rice Cake) Recipe

I love this Coconut Rice Cake.. no words can describe how I love this Filipino dessert..

Bibingka Galapong
Here's the recipe (Courtesy of Filipino Desserts):

2 cups rice flour
¼ cup glutinous rice flour
3 eggs
½ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup butter melted, plus additional for basting or brushing
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 tbsp baking powder
few pieces wilted banana leaves
grated fresh coconut and sliced salted eggs for toppings
or grated cheddar cheese as toppings if preferred )

1. Beat eggs in a bowl until foamy. Add sugar and butter and beat until fluffy.
2. Mix the rice flour, glutinous rice flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add coconut milk. Blend well.
3. Add the two mixtures: the egg mixture with the coconut-flour mixture, beating well until smooth.
4. Line small round pans with wilted banana leaves. Brush banana leaves with butter.
5. Pour mixture into pan. Bake in (preheated ) oven 180 C or 350 F for 20 minutes.
6. Top with sliced salted eggs. Bake again for 5 minutes. Brush some butter on top.
7. Serve with freshly grated coconut and sugar or muscovado sugar.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Psalm 23

Psalm 23
(King James Version)
A song of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rizal: "To My Country"

Dr. José Rizal
This was an old entry from my old defunct blog and I decided to transfer it here.

Well, Dr. José Rizal wrote "To My Country" as an introduction to his first novel "Noli Me Tangere" (translation: "Touch Me Not"). However, "To My Country" is more than just an introduction. It serves as a reminder to each an every one of us that we, as a people (the Filipino people), have our very own defects, bad habits and vices. In other words, a social cancer.

Rizal admitted that he himself was suffering from the social cancer. Throughout his life, he change himself from that social cancer, he becomes a better man, a true patriot and indeed, the father of our nationalism. While in Spain, he distanced himself from other Overseas Filipinos (fellow propagandists), who enjoyed luxurious lives and vices that blinded them from their patriotic duties.

Today, we Filipinos have even greater social cancer. First thing that comes to every Filipinos mind when it comes to politics is corruption. Most Filipinos I know will always say that all presidents in our nation's history were corrupt leaders. Yet something is wrong with that view because society itself is corrupt. Not only our politicians are corrupt but also the people themselves are corrupt. People should not expect good leaders would rise to save them because they themselves are corrupt and they are bound to elect corrupt leaders. Therefore, corruption must end whether politically, bureaucratically and economically but it must first end from the people. Corrupt politicians do not elect themselves; the people are [the one voting for them]. In other words, “corrupt people always vote for corrupt politicians”.

To My Country

Recorded in the history of human sufferings is a cancer of so malignant
a character that the least touch irritates it and awakens in it the
sharpest pains. Thus, how many times, when in the midst of modern
civilizations I have wished to call thee before me, now to accompany
me in memories, now to compare thee with other countries, hath thy
dear image presented itself showing a social cancer like to that other!

Desiring thy welfare, which is our own, and seeking the best treatment,
I will do with thee what the ancients did with their sick, exposing
them on the steps of the temple so that every one who came to invoke
the Divinity might offer them a remedy.

And to this end, I will strive to reproduce thy condition faithfully,
without discriminations; I will raise a part of the veil that covers
the evil, sacrificing to truth everything, even vanity itself, since,
as thy son, I am conscious that I also suffer from thy defects and

Yours Truly,
José Rizal

(To My Country is the introductory entry to Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere)

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Christian Poem...

That Poem...

I knelt to pray but not for long,
I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work
For bills would soon be due.

So I knelt and said a hurried prayer,
And jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done
My soul could rest at ease.....

All day long I had no time
To spread a word of cheer
No time to speak of Christ to friends,
They'd laugh at me I'd fear.

No time, no time, too much to do,
That was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need
But at last the time, the time to die.

I went before the Lord,
I came, I stood with downcast eyes.
For in his hands God! held a book;
It was the book of life.

God looked into his book and said
"Your name I cannot find
I once was going to write it down...
But never found the time"

[By the way, I don't own nor I made/composed this poem.. just want to share it with you!]

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Christchurch Earthquake Experience of 2010

"The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke."
~Psalm 104:31-32 (KJV)

When I was about to go to sleep around 04:00-04:30 AM (New Zealand time), the magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand (some reports says its magnitude 7.1). The epicenter was 40 kilometers west of the city, which is not bad, at least no tsunami to worry about. Although, the numerous aftershocks that followed (and they are still coming) were starting to get on my nerves. Every 5-10 minutes, they keep rattling the ground. Thank GOD not much damage to the house though and the city's electricity return about eight hours after the earthquake.

Ever since high school, as a geography student, I always have this tingling feeling that a huge earthquake is coming and it took six years for the quake to finally happened. Of course, I am not thrilled about it. I was almost finished cleaning up (throwing out some old school notes dating back to my high school days) and re-arranging my room to make it more habitable again but thanks to the earthquake, I'm pretty much back to square one. Anyway, there is no report of serious casualties, except a couple of injured Christchurch residents.
Earthquake's epicenter and surrounding areas. (Photo courtesy of Business Insider)

The Christchurch Earthquake was like my fourth "earthquake" experience. I remember when I was a kid in Barangay Upper Hinaplanon in Iligan City (Philippines) when my family was very much complete at that time. My five brothers and I were in the lounge watching TV and the clock suddenly banging the wall. Of course, the Christchurch quake was much bigger since the entire mountain range of the South Island (New Zealand) is pretty much a major fault line.

Funny how some of my friends posted in Facebook that their "first" earthquake experience were cool but I wonder what would they feel if they go buy their groceries right now and they get to see people fighting to buy food and supplies in shopping malls and dairy shops. I expect the city and university libraries, DVD and CD stores are in pretty mess at the moment. In addition, looters/thieves are everywhere.

Ski trips and snowboarding is not a good idea at the moment. I hope everyone is OK. Conserve food and water. Stay away from power lines and keep praying. Sometimes, a much "bigger" aftershock (bigger than the earthquake itself) will turn up and worse could happen than the one early in the morning today.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah."
~Psalm 46:1-3 (KJV)

Happy 67th Birthday to my late father Marcelino Pineda

Today is my late father's 67th birthday.
Ever since I left the Philippines, except for the last two years, I always remembered my father's birthday at the end of September (even though he was born on September the 4th). Anyway, here is a song that keeps reminding me about my late father's birthday:

"Wake Me Up When September Ends"
by Green Day

My late father, M/Sgt Marcelino Pineda, PC-SAF (in the middle)
Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

like my fathers come to pass
seven years has gone so fast
wake me up when September ends

here comes the rain again
falling from the stars
drenched in my pain again
becoming who we are

as my memory rests
but never forgets what I lost
wake me up when September ends

summer has come and passed
the innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

ring out the bells again
like we did when spring began
wake me up when September ends

here comes the rain again
falling from the stars
drenched in my pain again
becoming who we are

as my memory rests
but never forgets what I lost
wake me up when September ends

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

like my father's come to pass
twenty years has gone so fast
wake me up when September ends
wake me up when September ends
wake me up when September ends

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Zealand in the 2010 FIBA World Championship

Pero Cameron leading the Haka
One of the fastest developing basketball nations in the world for the last ten years is New Zealand. Rivaled only by Lebanon and Iran. This decade, the Tall Blacks qualified in two Olympic Games and three World Championships.

One player that pretty much defined New Zealand basketball for the last ten years was Kirk Penney. Of course, there was Sean Marks (New Zealand's first ever NBA player) earlier in the decade and the aging Pero Cameron (probably New Zealand's greatest player). However, what separate Kirk Penney from the other two New Zealand greats is that his career blossom at the same time as New Zealand basketball blossom. For the last three years, he was named in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) First Team and was the 2009 ANBL Most Valuable Player. As a basketball fan, I'm gonna go as far as saying he is the best player south of the Equator (yes, there's a certain basketball power named Argentina but most of their best players are playing in the Northern Hemisphere).

Anyway, the 2010 FIBA World Championship will be the fourth appearance for the Tall Blacks since 1986 with veterans Penney, Cameron, and Phill Jones playing in three of those four appearances. The three are last remnants of the 2002 Tall Blacks that made it to the semi-finals and finished 4th in the World Championships.

Here's New Zealand's record in the World Championship (host country):
  • 1986 FIBA World Championship (Spain): 21st place
  • 2002 FIBA World Championship (USA): 4th place
  • 2006 FIBA World Championship (Japan): 16th place
  • 2010 FIBA World Championship (Turkey): 12th place
Kirk Penney (Best Player South of the Equator),
Here's New Zealand current line-up:
  • Kirk Penney (captain)
  • Phillip Jones
  • Pero Cameron
  • Craig Bradshaw
  • Thomas Abercrombie
  • Benny Charles Anthony
  • Michael Fitchett
  • Casey Frank
  • Jeremy Kench
  • Alex Pledger
  • Lindsay Tait
  • Mika Vukona
  • Head coach: Nenad Vucinic
  • Assistant coach: Dillon Boucher

Group Stage Results:
Win-Loss Record: 3-2 (third place in Group D)


2010 New Zealand Tall Blacks,
New Zealand's Most Valuable Players:

      Thursday, September 2, 2010

      The Legend that is "The Triggerman"

      Allan Caidic hopelessly guarded by Benjie Paras (courtesy of
      “Rare is the player who can frustrate him from burning the hoops because he needs only a little space to make a goal. He baffles his opponents with his quick reflexes.” 
      ~Jenny King, Great and Famous Filipinos, 2002

      Last August 27, 2010, basketball fans in the Philippines saw the glimpse of the recent past of the world's two oldest professional leagues, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The NBA Asia Challenge includes not just the legends of the recent past but it also includes current PBA and National Basketball Development League (NBDL) stars.

      For two years, the NBA Asia Challenge served as the closest thing to Filipinos to watch a live NBA game. Of course, it is more of an entertainment showcase rather than competitive basketball. Ever since the deterioration of the quality of the game in the Philippines, so were the NBA delegations that arrive in the country. Gone are the days (1970s) when an NBA franchise or a competitive All-Star line-up turn up in Manila and play their PBA counterparts. These days, we only get to see "retired" NBA players while the active ones arrived individually only to sign autographs and promote whatever they came for in Manila.

      Glen Rice and Allan Caidic (courtesy of
      Anyway, one player that grabs the headlines of the NBA Asia Challenge for the last two years was the legendary Triggerman Allan Caidic. The Barangay Ginebra Kings assistant coach shoots the lights out of Araneta Coliseum and earned the respect of the NBA legends from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 2009 to Gary Payton/Glen Rice/Chris Webber this year.

      Last year, he fired five consecutive triples in the first half to lead the PBA all-star selection with 15 points but loss the game to Dominique Wilkins-led NBA Generations team. This year, on the other hand, Caidic scored 54 points with 14 three points field goals made and led the Red Team (with Gary Payton, Glen Rice and Vergel Meneses) to 177-167 victory over a Chris Webber-led White Team (with Mitch Richmond, Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc and Alvin Patrimonio).

      The 54-point performance and his 14 triples were 25 points and three triples short of the 20 years old all time records he set in the PBA. It also remind everyone, not just those present in Araneta, that the best shooter in the country are not James Yap or Ren-Ren Ritualo but the assistant coach of Barangay Ginebra Kings and 10 years retired Allan Caidic.

      The scores (2010 NBA Asia Challenge):

      RED 177 (coach: T. Cone)A. Caidic 54, Lazare 22, G. Rice 19, A. Santos 16, V. Meneses 16, R. Maierhofer 15, McCray 11, A. Co 10, L.A. Tenorio 7, G. Payton 7.

      WHITE 167 (coach: S. Tanquingcen) — R. Frahm 24, C.Webber 24, Tyndale 22, D.  Hontiveros 20, V. Paras 18, R. Magsanoc 18, A. Patrimonio 16, M. Richmond 16, R. Tubid 13.

      Quarters: 38-44; 92-94; 124-124; 177-167.

      NBA legend Glen Rice and PBA legend Allan Caidic (courtesy of
      Check Out:

      Since his playing records and achievements are pretty much all over the internet. Here are the Triggerman’s achievements after his self-enforced retirement in 1999 (Post-playing career):
      • PBL Top 20 Greatest Players
      • PBA Top 25 Greatest Players
      • Philippine National Team Assistant Coach (European Tour, Asian Games)
      • 2005 PBA Greatest Game (MVP), 30 points*
      • 2005 PBA Legends Tour of Australia (Series MVP), back-to-back 30 points* [video]
      • 2005 Southeast Asian Games Sports Ambassador
      • 2006 San Miguel All-Stars vs. USA Legends, 17 points*
      • 2008 Grand Reunion Tour of PBA Greats in California
      • 2008 PBA Legends vs. Philippine Army Basketball Team, 33 points*
      • 2009 PBA Legends Tour of North America
      • 2009 NBA Asia Challenge: NBA Generation vs. PBA All-Stars, 15 points* [video]
      • 2009 PBA Hall of Fame
      • 2010 NBA Asia Challenge: Red vs. White, 54 points/14 triples* [video]
      • Three time PBA champion (two as Team Manager and one as Assistant Coach)
      * Lead his team in scoring

      The 'irreplaceable' Triggerman: The greatest shooter Philippine basketball ever had (photo courtesy of

      “I became a shooter when I was already in college. In elementary and high school, I used to play center. I practiced every day, taking as many as 200 three-point shots, to develop this skill. Maybe, I had an inborn touch. But without the long hours of practice, I wouldn’t have been able to develop my shooting.”  
      ~Allan Caidic

      Wednesday, September 1, 2010

      Toy Story 3 (movie review)

      I am not ashamed to say that I was excited for the movie to come out. I never thought that there was a "part 3" but since sequels and remakes are the thing these days why not "Toy Story 3".

      Anyway, I enjoyed the prequels ("Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2") of the movie so much that I expected that this movie would not fail to deliver (and it did not fail to deliver indeed). I am not gonna tell you the whole story, even though, I am a story-spoiler. The ending pretty much will make you cry. Remember in the movie "Lion King" (part 1), when Mufasa died while the young cub Simba asking his father to get up and he never did. The ending of the Toy Story 3 was just like that of the death of Mufasa, a sure tearjerker and its a fitting end of a series. Overall, I enjoyed the movie so much. Here's the trailer:

      The movie has a funny side-story of Barbie and Ken. LOL.

      OK, once a spoiler, always a spoiler. Here's the "sad" ending of the movie. So if you haven't seen the movie yet. Don't watch this video (you will not cry if you haven't seen the entire movie... trust me):

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