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RP Envoy Announces Plans for 60th Anniversary of Philippines-Korea Relations
Philippine Ambassador to Seoul Luis T. Cruz

Philippine Ambassador to Seoul Luis T. Cruz formally launched the 60th Anniversary of Philippines-Korea relations on March 3, 2009 with a media luncheon at the Westin Chosun Hotel to announce the Embassy's activities for the yearlong celebration.

"Anniversaries are an occasion for looking at past accomplishments, taking stock of our present cooperation, and charting the way forward for deeper and wider collaboration," said Amb. Cruz.

"Sixty years is an important milestone. As the fifth country to extend diplomatic recognition to South Korea and the third country to send ground combat troops to South Korea during the Korean War, the Philippines is proud to have South Korea as one of its most enduring and closest partners," he said.

Official ties between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea began on March 3, 1949 when the Philippines became the fifth country to extend diplomatic recognition to South Korea, six months after its inauguration on August 15, 1948.

This bond was cemented a year later at the outbreak of the Korean War, when the Philippines deployed more than 7,000 soldiers to join an international coalition to help South Korea defend itself from the invasion of the communist North.

"For sixty years, our leaders have nurtured this special friendship between our governments and peoples, tended it until it grew and flourished into the wide-ranging partnership we have now. " Amb Cruz said.

Pointing out that the ties that bind two countries have become tighter with the expansion of their alliance in numerous sectors, from political, security, and economic cooperation to socio-cultural and development collaboration, Philippine envoy went on to say that people-to-people exchange is at an unprecedented high.

Ms. Maricon Basco-Ebron, tourism director and attaché at the Embassy of the Philippines in Seoul

"South Korea is our number one source of tourists, foreign students and retirees. It is a consistent top investor and trading partner. As we speak, approximately 60,000 Filipinos are contributing to the development of South Korea's economy and society as students, workers, missionaries or spouses of Korean nationals," he said.

He then noted that they bring a fresh dimension to South Korea's aim of globalization, of imbibing a truly multicultural society where peoples from different cultures can unite under the banner of progress and openness.

"Around 100,000 South Koreans have found in the Philippines a second home. Our peoples enrich our respective countries' cultural landscapes by adding from the palettes of their own.Philippines-Korea relations, as I like to describe them, are vibrant, dynamic, and mutually beneficial. Such solidarity is also evident in the multilateral setting, as we collaborate closely in international forums such as the United Nations, ASEAN, APEC, and WTO.," Amb. Cruz added..

Amb. Cruz opened the ceremony with the announcement by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo designating March 3, 2009 as "Philippines-Korea Friendship Day" and the year 2009 as "Philippines-Korea Friendship Year" under Proclamation No. 1495 dated 17 May 2008.

Commemorative activities both in the Philippines and South Korea will celebrate six decades of close partnership, raise mutual awareness among each other's peoples and toast to the future of Philippines-Korea relations.

The designations aim to raise awareness about the common history, culture and future shared by the two countries.

Amb. Cruz launched the 60th Anniversary with representatives from the Korean Government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Local Authorities Foundation for International Relations, and the Korea Post.

Philippines-Korea commemorative stamp

The Korea Post launched the Philippines-Korea Commemorative Stamps during the same event, featuring Korea's "Sonori in Hangawi" and the Philippine "Panagbenga Flower Festival."

The Panagbenga Flower Festival is held for a month every February in Baguio, the country's summer capital. Following a spectacular car festooned with floral decorations, dancers and citizens who decorate themselves with flowers march through the streets to cheerful music.

Other major activities include the "One Philippines" exhibit at the plaza in front of the Seoul City Hall on 29-30 May 2009; the launching of "The Forgotten War" at the National Theater of Korea on 14 April 2009; and the unveiling of the Philippine marker at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Korea (UNMCK) in Busan on 28 May 2009.

The "One Philippines" exhibit will showcase the history, culture, tradition, and business environment of the Philippines. The two-day event will feature a number of cultural performances, including professional performers from the Philippines and lively street dances.

"The Forgotten War" is a 90-minute feature that tackles the exploits of the Filipino soldiers who participated in the Korean War from 1950-1953 under the auspices of the United Nations Command.

The marker, meanwhile, will pay tribute to the more than 7,000 Filipino soldiers who stood side by side with their South Korean brethren during the Korean War in the 1950s.

60th Anniversary of Philippines-Korea relations on March 3, 2009

RP-Korea Bilateral Relations

Bilateral relations between the Philippines and South Korea began on March 3, 1949 when the Philippines became the fifth country to extend diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Korea. The friendship was cemented by the Philippine deployment of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK), under the auspices of the UN Command, during the Korean War in the 1950s to help South Korea defend itself from the invasion of the North.

The first of five battalions arrived in Busan on 19 September 1950, making the Philippines the third country to send ground combat troops to South Korea. Of the more than 7,000 soldiers who were stationed in South Korea over a five-year period, 116 paid the ultimate price of freedom with their lives.

After the Armistice, South Korea sent H.E. Kim Yong-Ki as its first Ambassador to Manila on 19 January 1954. In May of the same year, the Philippines established a legation in Seoul led by Minister Tomas de Castro, who was appointed as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Philippines in the country. In 1958, the Philippines opened an Embassy in Seoul under Ambassador Eduardo Quintero.

Among those who took part in the Korean War was former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, as well as two later ambassadors to South Korea, the late Col. Nicanor Jimenez and Gen. Ernesto Gidaya.

For 60 years, the friendship that had blossomed between the two countries grew from purposive military collaboration to a more comprehensive partnership that covers the political-security, socio-cultural, economic and development fields.

Today, the Philippines is among South Korea's top trading partners. The Korea International Trade Association reports that bilateral trade from January to November 2008 reached $7.67 billion with Philippine exports at $2.95 billion and Korean exports at $4.72 billion. Top Philippine exports include semiconductor components and fresh produce. South Korea is also a top investor in the Philippines with companies such as Hyundai Engineering, Hanjin Shipbuilding and several resort-builders maintaining a strong presence in the Philippines.

People-to-people exchange is very vibrant. In 2008, South Korea became the top sender of visitors to the Philippines for three years running, ahead of the US and Japan. More than 600,000 South Koreans visited the Philippines last year, contributing to 19.5% of the tourist market share. South Koreans is also the country's top source of foreign students and retirees. A conservative estimate of 80,000 Koreans live in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, 59,000 Filipinos reside in South Korea as students, workers, professionals, spouses of Korean nationals or missionaries.






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