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Son of an “Avenger”

The Korean War, considered by some historians as the “World War III” commenced when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army advanced to the 38th parallel, which is the common boundary set by the Communist North Korea and pro-Western South Korea, on June 25, 1950. Within this threat, the world quickly reacted. North Korea is supported by Russia and China, while South Korea gained the support from United Nations led by the United States.

After the Korean War erupted in June 1950, 14th BCT is the fourth battalion (to engage in combat) sent by the Philippine Government to Korea in March 1953.

After the Korean War erupted in June 1950, 14th BCT is the fourth battalion (to engage in combat) sent by the Philippine Government to Korea in March 1953.

Within the same year in my country, Philippines, the “14th Battalion Combat Team” (14th BCT) was created. My father, a Corporal of the Philippine Constabulary, after serving in World War II (including several overseas assignments in Guam and Papua New Guinea, as well as local tour of duty in Jolo Sulu), was enlisted and assigned at Rizal Province. He was from Tayabas (Quezon Province) and first enlisted as First Class Private of the 51st Infantry Regiment (Commonwealth Army of the Philippines) on December 14, 1944 in Boac Marinduque.

The 14th Battalion Combat Team was later given the accolade “Avengers” by then Secretary of National Defense and later Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay when their team successfully crushed and flushed the renegade group “HUKBALAHAP” from the mountains of Antipolo.

Class 14, The Signal Corps School, Armed Forces of the Philippines, September 1951

Class 14, The Signal Corps School, Armed Forces of the Philippines, September 1951

He met my mother, Natividad from the Garrovillas and Ramos clan of Teresa, Province of Rizal and eventually got married on August 1952.

On March 1953, just seven months after marrying my mother, my father was called for duty to join Company “A” of the 14th Battalion Combat Team. My mother is seven months pregnant with their first baby, when my father left Manila to Pusan, South Korea.

14th BCT was the fourth battalion sent by the Philippine Government to Korea under the United Nations Command, and the last to engage in combat (the fifth and last battalion sent after the Avengers was deployed for reconstruction efforts).

My father was a radioman. His duty was to communicate and relay information about enemy position and movement. It remains vivid to me how he mentioned with pride the nature and importance of his job and the great danger involved therein. He explained that disrupting communication is always the primary objective in warfare — and that includes the radioman being a hostile target himself. A risk magnet to snipers and gunmen.

I recall as a child (when I am about 8 years old) my father was telling me war stories. He mentioned to me that he could had been killed during one of their missions, if not for the birds that remained steady on the trees and bushes where he crawled under for cover, while enemy forces sweeps the area. Should the birds flew, the flock could had compromised his position.

My battle-tested father posing for a souvenir photo at their camp in Korea.

My battle-tested father posing for a souvenir photo at their camp in Korea.

From Pusan, my father was brought to Chunchon by train and transferred by truck to “Sandbag Castle” — they arrive in the battlefront on May 15, 1953. Their mission is to secure the area and prevent the enemy from positioning there.

Amidst the loud noise of explosions, rapid gunfire and flashes of lights from artillery bombing in Korea, my mother in the Philippines is labouring with their first child. On May 17, 1953, a cry of a baby echoed — the soldier just became a ‘Dad’.

Within two months at the forefront, until they were relieved by US 45th Infantry Division, their battalion lost 4 men (KIA) and wounded 27 men (WIA).

After a couple of weeks, they returned to the frontline to rescue the 20th Division of South Korea (ROK) being heavily attacked by “Chinese People’s Volunteer Army” (CPV). The battalion’s mission is to counter attack CPV and establish a blocking position. On the evening of June 14, CPV initiated 12-hour massive artillery fire resulting 2 deaths of their men and wounding another 6.

The Avengers counter-attacked the following morning at “Christmas Hill”, targeting CPV on a position taken from American company. Despite being slowed down by hard rain and resistance, the counter attacks were still making good progress until July 18 when the battalion successfully repulsed enemy forces, inflicting over 200 casualties to the CPV.

After heavy fightings, there was an attempt from CPV to appease the Filipinos by blurting on their loud speakers “Go home, we are not your enemy“, to which the Avengers simply ignored, but replied with artillery strike that sent the enemy running for cover. CPV retaliated with another heavy offensive that they had been preparing simultaneously while promoting their propaganda.

When the battle resumed on 24 July, Company “A” of the 14th BCT suffered from heavy enemy artillery fire which continued for the next 3 days. Thousands of rounds were fired at the battalion resulting communications disruption. The Avengers answered back also hurling thousands or rounds against Chinese artillery and infantry positions, until they ran out of ammunitions.

On July 27, 1953 an Armistice Agreement mediated by the United Nations, was entered between North Korea and South Korea, supported by the United States and China.

"Men of the 14th cheer the Armistice" caption and image from http://peftok.blogspot.com/

“Men of the 14th cheer the Armistice” — Caption and image from http://peftok.blogspot.com/ — I can not pinpoint where my father is, but most definitely, as a radioman, he is with the group.

While news was heard about the truce, the enemy continued bombarding the battalion who are hiding on their foxholes due to lack of ammunitions. As soon as fresh supply of artillery shells arrived, despite the cease fire order, the Avengers still engaged the Communists on an all-out-duel. Truly, the 14th BCT were the last battalion who fired shots in Korean War.

By the end of July, hostilities subsided, the Avengers were finally pulled out from the front line and were moved to Yanggu Valley to embark on rebuilding villages ravaged by war. Within this period, my father celebrated his 30th birthday in Korea.

Of the 7,420 Filipinos sent to Korea, 112 were killed, 313 wounded and 16 men remain officially missing. From the 14th Battalion Combat Force (the ‘Avengers’) only 6 were killed.

On February 1954, my father was reunited with my mother in Manila. Thereafter and later my parents brought us — five daughters and three sons (including myself) — to the world. My father continued to serve the Philippine Army to support the family.

Manila Bulletin, Friday, February 5, 1954

Manila Bulletin, Friday, February 5, 1954: IT WAS WORTH IT. Like many of his fellow 14th B.C.T. Korean veterans, Cpl. Severino Oliveros of Atimonan, Quezon found the welcome at Pier 5 yesterday worth their one year of service in Korea. Left panel shows Cpl. Oliveros kissing his wife shortly after he disembarked form the U.S.A.T. Logan. At right, Capt. W. H. Raymond, commander of the transport which brought the Filipino doughboys home, talks with Brig. Gen. Eulogio Balao, vice chief of staff.

For their efforts, the 14th Battalion Combat Team “The Avengers” received the South Korean Presidential Unit Citation in December 1953 and later the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation in March 1954. My father remained with the Philippine Constabulary assigned in the Province of Rizal.

My mother Natividad G.  Ramos, with their first born (and our eldest sister) Elsa.

My mother with their first born (and our eldest sister) Elsa, taken on a studio in 1953, to be mailed to our father fighting in Korea.

Two decades later, when I was born on February 1976 (a Wednesday), he decided to file his retirement the following Monday. He chose to live quietly on a small farm adjacent to a river, instead of on our house at the town proper, in Teresa Rizal, until his death in the evening of August 1985 at the age of 60 (I am 9 years old). He died alone, cardiac arrest.

I have had spent of most of my childhood years with him (especially during weekends and school break) in the farm. Off the farm, I can also recall him bringing me along on Veterans Conventions, and seeing then Secretary of National Defense (and future President) General Fidel V. Ramos, who also served on the Korean War.

My old chap straight from the farm. This was the last time he pinned a ribbon on me during a school commencement exercise in 1985 when I was in Grade 3.

My old chap straight from the farm. This was the last time he pinned a ribbon on me during a school commencement exercise in 1985 when I was in Grade 3.

My father, retired 2nd Lieutenant Severino S. Oliveros completed 27 years, 5 months and 22 days of active military service. A World War II and Korean War veteran.

My brushed up logo of "Avenger" to which I include the motto "Crush 'Em!".  It appears that the logo was designed to be slanted.

My brushed up logo of “Avenger” to which I included the motto “Crush ‘Em!”. It appears that the logo was designed to be slanted.

I am a proud son of an Avenger: Company “A” of the 14th Battalion Combat Team, Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK).

Credits and Historical Reference:
http://www.oocities.org/peftok/14thbct.html
http://peftok.blogspot.com/2009/12/14th-battalion-combat-team-avengers_12.html
http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war
http://www.cabatuan.com/ffm10.html
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/philippines/14in-his.htm

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37 Places

This is the mountain I used see everyday, along with the rice fields  (which is also my childhood playground) that I witness change its color from lush green to cheerful yellow to bountiful gold, at the back of our house since birth until I was about 23 years old in Teresa Rizal.

This is the mountain I used see everyday, along with the rice fields (which is also my childhood playground) that changes color from green to gold depending on the season, at the back of our house since birth until I am about 23 years old in Teresa Rizal.

I had just turned 11 when I first came to Baguio City as a delegate to the 8th National Jamboree.  We stayed there for a week and explored the city extensively.  The second time I'ved been to Baguio is only after I graduated from the university and when I was with my first job at a bank.  It is quite spontaneous (if not totally weird).  It was Friday (a weekend) I simply decided to go to the bus terminal and bought a ticket to Baguio.  I slept all night at the bus and arrived in Baguio early in the morning and explored the city.  It feels so nice getting back there, as if I still know the places from childhood memories.  Late afternoon, I decided to go back to Manila with a handful of fresh veggies with me.

I had just turned 11 when I first came to Baguio City as a delegate to the 8th National Jamboree. We stayed there for a week and explored the city extensively. The second time I’ved been to Baguio is only after I graduated from the university and when I was with my first job at a bank. It is quite spontaneous (if not weird). It was Friday (a weekend) I simply decided to go to the bus terminal and bought a ticket to Baguio. I slept all night at the bus and arrived in Baguio early in the morning and explored the city. It feels so nice getting back there, as if I still know the places from childhood memories. Late afternoon, I decided to go back to Manila with a handful of fresh veggies with me.

This blurred photo reminds me of my boy scout years in high school.  We went to the ruins of Cagsawa Church and trekked Mt. Mayon.  We were too close to the peak (climbed more than 85% with clouds already in our feet) until our scout master decided to return our base.

This blurred photo reminds me of my boy scout years in high school. We went to the ruins of Cagsawa Church and trekked Mt. Mayon. We were too close to the peak (climbed more than 85% with clouds already on our feet) until our scout master decided to return to our base.

This is where I learn things that I do not learn from Kindergarten and Elementary.  And I am not talking about school.

This is where I learn things that I do not learn from Kindergarten and Elementary. And I am not talking about school.

Youth Leaders' Conference in Cagayan De Oro City.

Youth Leaders’ Conference in Cagayan De Oro City. We spent 2 nights aboard the ship from Manila to Cagayan De Oro City (and returning for another 2 nights.)

My alma mater, my second home for six years (undergraduate and graduate studies).  Except for the Thomasian Hym (that I was not able to memorize) I have lots  memories from this university.

My alma mater, my second home for six years (undergraduate and graduate studies). Except for the Thomasian Hym (that I was not able to memorize) I have lots memories from this university.

Tuguegarao has Callao cave, considered to be more popular than those in the Sagada.  The cave is indeed enchanting.

Tuguegarao has Callao cave, considered to be more popular than those in the Sagada. The cave is indeed enchanting. Though I want to visit Sagado too, soon.

I drew the alarm system diagram on this bank and supervised its installation.

I drew the alarm system diagram on this bank and supervised its installation.

I was here the middle of the year, though it is interesting the city got lots of "Christmas lights" all over.

I was here the middle of the year, though it is interesting the city got lots of “Christmas lights” all over.

My first Christmas in Saudi Arabia absent my family.

My first Christmas in Saudi Arabia and first time absent with my family.

Been to Taif twice.  The cool breeze of air is exhilarating amidst the view of arid mountains devoid of greens.

Been to Taif twice. The cool breeze of air is exhilarating amidst the view of arid mountains devoid of greens.

Camels on desert sands roaming free.  Al Kharj.

Camels on desert sands roaming free. Al Kharj.

With Philippine Ambassador, a Saudi General and a Filipino businessman, at Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

With Philippine Ambassador, a Saudi General and a Filipino businessman, at Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.

Our organization was invited to speak at De La Salle University.  I was designated to conduct the talk.

Our organization was invited to speak at De La Salle University. I was designated to conduct the talk.

Invited to speak at Cavite State University.  Topic was -- The History and Evolution of the Philippine Flag.

Invited to speak at Cavite State University. Topic was — The History and Evolution of the Philippine Flag.

A souvenir shot at Lapu Lapu Shrine in Cebu City during one of our out-of-town recruitment campaign.  With me is my boss and client.

A souvenir shot at Lapu Lapu Shrine in Cebu City during one of our out-of-town recruitment campaign. With me is my boss and client.

A short city trip in Singapore on the way back to Saudi Arabia

A short city trip in Singapore on the way back to Saudi Arabia

One of the simple joys in the desert.  Fill up your tank and just drive and drive until you feel hunger. Just pull over, spread the carpet, set the food and eat.

One of the simple joys in the desert. Fill up your tank and just drive and drive until you feel hunger. Just pull over, spread the carpet, set the food and eat.

A visit to south of Jeddah popular for its shipwrecks and abandoned vessels.

A visit to “Shoaibah” located South of Jeddah, popular for its shipwrecks and abandoned vessels.

On the way to Los Banos Laguna.  A short break to stretch and have a photo opportunity with the Sierra Madre mountain range as back drop.

On the way to Los Banos Laguna. A short break to stretch and have a photo opportunity with the Sierra Madre mountain range as back drop.

Regina Rosarii is in Tanay Rizal, the lady towers and overlooks the southern portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Regina Rosarii is in Tanay Rizal, the lady towers and overlooks the southern portion of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Another local pilgrimage site in Lucban Quezon.  The most memorable to me however is when I ordered from a restaurant within the site all kinds (4 varieties) of their pancit.  Including the famous, pancit habhab on banana leaf -- "habhab" being translated as partaking only using mouth (no fork nor chopsticks).  And they use vinegar instead of lemon.  I want to go back to that place.

Another local pilgrimage site in Lucban Quezon. The most memorable to me however is when I ordered from a restaurant within the site all kinds (4 varieties) of their pancit. Including the famous, pancit habhab on banana leaf — “habhad” being translated as partaking only using mouth (no fork nor chopsticks). And they use vinegar instead of lemon. I want to go back to that place.

A marvel how nature was able to construct these hills (aside from the legend share by our tour guide that there once lived giants who playfully threw mud at each other that formed these hills ).

A marvel how nature was able to construct these hills (aside from the legend share by our tour guide that there once lived giants who playfully threw mud at each other that formed these hills ).

My original plan is to try set foot in Basilan, my travel buddy killed the idea.

My original plan is to try set foot in Basilan, my travel buddy killed the idea.

Saw Pope John Paul II in Manila almost a decade ago, and got also a chance to see Pope Benedict XVI at a mass in Vatican (incidentally this day, the Pope announced that he is resigning due to health reasons)

Saw Pope John Paul II in Manila almost a decade ago, and got also a chance to see Pope Benedict XVI at a mass in Vatican (incidentally today [Feb. 11], the Pope announced that he is resigning due to health reasons)

King Neptune's fountain in Rome.

King Neptune’s fountain in Rome.

Florence is a city of great sculptures, which   includes the 17 ft Statue of David by Michael Angelo.  The figure on my background (at Palazzo della Signoria) is just a replica.  The original staue is at Accademia Gallery.  Too bad photography is not allowed.

Florence is a city of great sculptures, which includes the 17 ft Statue of David by Michael Angelo. The figure on my background (at Palazzo della Signoria) is just a replica. The original staue is at Accademia Gallery. Too bad photography is not allowed.

Ahh, the magnificent sight of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Ahh, the magnificent sight of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The scoop is about the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announcing his resignation at the Palazzo Montecitorio

The scoop is about the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announcing his resignation at the Palazzo Montecitorio

Watching my son play Assassin's Creed reminds me of Venice.  The waterways are still alive and theming with life, despite the ages.

Watching my son play Assassin’s Creed reminds me of Venice. The waterways are still alive and theming with life, despite the ages.

Daranak Falls, located in Tanay Rizal is virtually my neighbor.  Was able to be there just recently.  Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo meantime is practically just at door step -- haven't been there yet.

Daranak Falls, located in Tanay Rizal is virtually my neighbor. Was able to be there just recently. Hinulugang Taktak in Antipolo meantime is practically just at my door step — haven’t been there yet.

We conquered Puerto Princesa's Underground River.

We conquered Puerto Princesa’s Underground River. A journey (paddle) boat trip inside the cave is like journey to the abyss.

Been to this Island twice.  The last one included a road trip around the Island.

Been to this Island twice. The last one included a road trip around the Island.

Trying the rickshaw in Hong Kong.

Trying the rickshaw in Hong Kong.

I am not a fan of Mickey, but what the heck.  Here I accompanied my son queue for more than 1 hour for a less than 5 minutes ride.  And after the ride, he wants to go back to the queue.

I am not a fan of Mickey, but what the heck. Here I accompanied my son queue for more than 1 hour for a less than 5 minutes ride. And after the ride, he wants to go back to the queue.

The majestic Tian Tan Buddha, elevated 240 steps on Lantau Island, HK.

The majestic Tian Tan Buddha, elevated 240 steps on Lantau Island, HK.

Not many workers can ride a bike to work.  I am fortunate that I can.

Thuwal is my current city. Not many workers can ride a bike to work. I am fortunate that I can.

Memory is the mother of all wisdom.

— AESCHYLUS, Prometheus Bound

There are other places that I wish to post, but due to the self imposed count restriction, this post needs to only have 37 places.

Fish Be With You

For it is written:

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.

Heres hoping for less sardines but more fresh Red Sea fish.

Heres hoping for a bountiful harvest from the Red Sea fish.

Yet I say:

Learn how to fish by yourself and you can get rid of the middleman. And can eat less sardines too.

Happy Dog

Starting the first week of 2013, I decided to do some biking. The initial intent is to burn those calories from pasta, sweets and meat accumulated during Christmas and New Year celebrations, though I feel it is simply necessary to have a cardio-vascular workout and just about time to lose some weight.

I find this a opportunity too to listen back to my mp3 collection.

I find this an opportunity too to listen back to my mp3 collection.

After selecting among several (free and paid) mobile apps to accompany me during biking, I finally settled with MapMyRide. Even with it’s free version, I am satisfied with its rich features and reporting capability (including the cool fly-by video of the route).

Neat calendar to record my activity.  Though one week without biking activity (except to and from work).

Neat calendar to record my activity.

I have one week though, without biking activity (except to and from work), due to a cold wave which even brought freak snow in Saudi Arabia (and no I am not inventing an amazing story, yes it snowed in Saudi Arabia though not exactly on my location). To which I think my aching joints and muscles are thankful for the break (*cough*excuses*cough*).

“Happy Dog” is the name I gave to the route (which is about 13.45 kms) I frequent for the past few weeks, for the purpose of measuring my progress to which I have not reached below 30 minutes time for this route. I am thinking however to try new routes.

The 'happy dog' route.

My 13.45 km ‘happy dog’ route. I am thinking to increase my distance or do two laps, but when I am ready.

I promise to keep my interest in biking and continue with my workout, I just do not know how it would feel riding a bike during the hot summer season here in the desert.

I think I have to end this blog and saddle up for my workout for the day.

Why I Love Mondays

[Prolouge]: So I woke up at 2 in the morning. I slept early tonight at 8 PM because for the past few days I am sleeping at around 2 AM. I usually force myself to go to bed at 12 midnight and maximum 1 AM on weekdays (and getting up before 7 AM to get to work at 8 AM). I don’t know but it seems my brain is programmed to sleep only for five to six hours per day. On Wednesdays and Thursdays (a.k.a. weekends) I usually sleep past 2 AM but still manage to wake up at around 8-ish to 9-ish in the morning. [End prologue].

I Mondays. But wait, before a reader gets offended or brands me heretic, let me explain. As opposed to workers from other parts of the world, who I know detest and hate Mondays as the grumpiest day of the week. You see, I work in Saudi Arabia where workweek starts on Saturday and ends on Wednesday. Therefore Monday here is the equivalent of Wednesday somewhere else — the middle day of the workweek, and as far as I am concerned nobody complains about Wednesday. Wednesday exemplifies hope (that the workweek will soon end), an achievement (on how workerd survive the preceding two days) looking forward Friday (the best day ever). OK, I skipped Thursday as I think Thursday is a spoiler. Why can’t we have Friday immediately after Wednesday?

I Love Mondays

(Background photo ‘grabbed’ from the internet, copyrighted as watermarked by the owner. Texts are mine. But hey, I have my own similar photo of it, I am just too lazy to look for it on my files in my external hard drive at 3 in the morning and it is a Wednesday.)

Now back to my host country, since Monday reminds me of Wednesday, I love the thought that it is already a Monday — with the same potency of Wednesday for workers outside Saudi Arabia. And that is why I love Mondays.

Oh boy, it is Wednesday already!