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Our Community, Our Responsibility | Parasat rolls out cheaper, faster internet plans

July 9, 2021

In celebration of its 31st Year of Service as Mindanao’s Pioneer Premier Cable TV and Internet Service Provider (ISP), Parasat Cable TV Inc. rolls out starting July 15, 2021, its new F.A.B. (Faster Affordable Broadband) Plans  which are much cheaper yet faster internet plans bundled with an unprecedented number of cable TV channels you won’t find elsewhere. “Basically, our long awaited "Faster Affordable Bundles" (or FAB) are new packages which are very competitive to current internet only plans sold by PLDT and Globe,” said Engr. Elpidio M. Paras, president and CEO. “We actually brought down  the rates and increased the speeds to address the perennial demands of customers for faster and more affordable, yet reliable internet services.” Our Community, Our Responsibility Paras said they FAB plans were conceptualized in response to the vastly increased demand for the internet as a basic need for education, work, communication, information, business, news and entertainment, and the cry of subscribers for faster and more reliable connectivity at affordable rates. “Unlike the past decade, internet service speeds have largely been very slow and expensive. Parasat intends to break that barrier with very affordable bundled plans which include Cable TV programming at no additional cost to internet subscriptions,” Paras said.  With the covid-19 crisis affecting face-to-face classes in all levels, online education has now become the new norm. The demand for affordable internet especially from the public-school sector has never been more pronounced during this pandemic, he added. Free Upgrades The best part of Parasat’s Community Social Responsibility (CSR) is its speed BOOST program which increased internet speeds for existing customers by as much as 300% (up to 3 times) depending on the particular plans. “For example, during the last two weeks, customers subscribed to a 3mbps plan now get 10mbps (which is boosted by at least 300%),” Paras disclosed. Parasat also plans another Speed Boost for all previous plans so current customers whether in HFC or Parafiber networks, can now level up with new plans. In this way, old Parasat internet customers would enjoy faster speeds proportionate to their current contracts. Current customers can also opt to recontract their cable and internet bundle based on the new plans without additional charges. Parasat uses two redundant network infrastructures , Parasat HFC (its legacy hybrid fiber co-axial cable network) and Parafiber (its pure fiber delivery network using FTTH, (Fiber-To-The- Home technology). It is also now rolling out its FTTH  infrastructure to its other service areas outside Cagayan de Oro. Discounted Faster Internet Parasat which pioneered its highly successful PISONET plan three years ago, provided cable customers with a lifeline 1 Mbps plan for an additional one (1) Peso. Unfortunately in today’s environment, that kind of speed  could not be usable for online meetings like Zoom and other solutions. Parasat HFC’s P699 plan now provides unlimited 8mbps at only P200 more than the original Pisonet Plan(w/ Starter Cable 56 channels). “This kind of pricing program  is definitely cheaper and more convenient for those using prepaid load for their children’s online classes,” Paras noted.   “Parasat’s WiFi enabled cable/fiber modems allow multiple users per plan. Parasat commits to provide its current and new customers better choices which are very competitive to current “internet only” plans sold by its competitors,” he stressed. The Cable ISP also dropped the price of its 15mbps Work from Home plan by 54% from P2149/month to only P999/month. For families with multiple users and doing online selling, the new P1499 and P1999 plans gives them a whopping 40Mbps/70Mbps with a limited budget. Plans from 100Mbps to 300Mbps are also available for Small Business users and heavy downloaders of videos and games. How We Did It To bring its bandwidth costs down,  Parasat Cable actually acquired multiple routes from bulk  bandwidth Telco providers in order to have a resilient and reliable internet distribution network covering most of Cagayan de Oro barangays; Misamis Oriental towns Opol, Alubijid, Laguindingan, Libertad and El Salvador City to the west; Tagoloan, Villanueva, Jasaan and Balingasag to the East; Manolo Fortich, Malaybalay and Valencia Cities in Bukidnon province.  The company now has enough bandwidth capacity to service its current and new customers under the new speed requirements.  In this day and age of unrestrained demand for Social Media, the company also acquired equipment and technology which allows for a faster connectivity to the likes of Google, YouTube, Facebook and Netflix. The state-of-the-art content servers in the data center, now enable users a low latency (below 5 milliseconds) connection to these major content sources, resulting in decreased buffering of videos and movies and a satisfying viewing experience for the customer. Internet Overdrive PARASAT Parafiber brand for  its Fiber To The Home (FTTH) network now covers major areas of the city from Bugo to Iponan and the Uptown areas.  The fiber optic  plant can now service business or institutional customers for speeds up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps) and provide special  business users who demand reliable point-to-point  fiber connectivity to as high as 10Gbps. It is currently embarking on a large scale upgrading of its FTTH network citywide to cover most of its franchise areas within the year.  Parasat also upgraded its legacy Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) network to be compliant with DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) version 3.1; which will eventually be as efficient as fiber technology in providing internet connectivity. This HFC upgrade will allow current coax cable customers to access speeds up to 300Mbps from a previous 50 mbps limit. More Value for Money Unlike other CATV providers, Parasat Cable  leverages its being a cable operator to bundle cable tv programs with its Parafiber and Parasat HFC internet brands, thus giving customers one solution in delivering traditional TV entertainment and internet based new communication and media platforms. “Having one unified billing system for both cable and internet coupled with multiple modes for payment like online banking, GCash, ECpay and the like, with several payment offices in different locations , is definitely a big advantage for Parasat HFC/Parafiber customers,” Paras points out. To date, Parasat has branches in Cruz Taal, Corrales, Bugo, Centrio, Limketkai, Puerto, Villanueva, Balingasag, Manolo Fortich, Malaybalay, including the recently opened Uptown branch along Masterson Ave. Parasat currently operates in the key cities of Cagayan de Oro, Malaybalay, Bukidnon, San Carlos, Negros Occidental , several towns in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon, as well as with strategic partners in other areas such as Valencia City, Bukidnon.

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The Mindanao Death March

July 4, 2021

During World War II, there were two (2) death marches in the Philippines that were presented at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials as evidence of the inhuman treatment of prisoners of war (POWs). These were the “Bataan Death March”, and the “Iligan Death March”, also referred to as the “Mindanao Death March” or the “Dansalan Death March” in some accounts. While the commemoration of the Bataan Death March is commemorated annually with the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) national highway every April 9th, very few people know about the Iligan Death March. On the 4th of July 1942, surrendered Filipino and American soldiers in Mindanao were made to march on a rocky dirt road and under the blazing tropical sun, from Camp Keithley in Dansalan to Iligan in Lanao – a distance of about thirty-six (36) kilometer (25 miles) prior to their transfer with the rest of the Mindanao POWs to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Transport trucks, although available, were denied the POWs. Without food and water, one by one the soldiers fell down due to exhaustion. Those who fell were shot in the forehead to prevent them from joining the guerrillas in the event they recover. But the story did not end there. The Tokyo War Trials On January 19, 1946, the victorious Allied powers—France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America— established the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) in Tokyo, Japan. The IMTFE had the jurisdiction to try individuals for Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity that were committed during the World War II. The subsequent trials held were collectively known as the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. The Tokyo War Crimes Trials were held between May 1946 to November 1948. The Philippine Prosecution Team presented and proved before the IMTFE at least sixteen (16) incidents of indignities, torture and barbarities committed against the Filipino and Foreign Prisoners of Wars (POWs) and civilians. Of these 16 incidents, only the Bataan Death March appeared in history textbooks. All the others remained unknown. Because the evidence against the accused were overwhelmingly strong, the Iligan Death March, along with others, were only summarily presented and proven during Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Guests of the Emperor The Japanese landed in the Southern part of Mindanao, in Parang, Maguindanao. From there, they began advancing northwards to the Province of Lanao. The Philippine Troops and Moros formed the Bolo Battalion under 81st Division commander Brigadier General Guy O. Fort to defend Ganassi, Bacolod Grande on the southern end of Lake Lanao to stop the Japanese troops. Gen. Fort planned for guerrilla warfare. However, on May 6, 1942, Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright IV, the Allied commander in the Philippines, surrendered the Filipino and American Forces on Bataan and Corregidor. Gen. Homma threatened to kill the American surrenderers from Bataan and Corregidor unless all American and Filipino forces surrendered. Thus, on May 10, 1942, Gen. Wainwright ordered Maj. Gen. William F. Sharp to surrender all his US and Filipino troops in Mindanao. He complied. At Bubong, Lanao del Sur, a large number of Filipino troops escaped to the hills. The Americans were ordered not to desert or face court martial. On May 26, 1942, the soldiers walked 6 miles from Bubong to Dansalan, where they surrendered their arms. The Japanese Commanding Officer declared them to be “guests of the emperor” and not “prisoners of war.” There were 46 Americans and some 300 Filipinos under General Fort who surrendered. While awaiting instructions from Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, the POWs were billeted in an abandoned building once used as a mint for producing provincial money. Soon, the Japanese soldiers guarding the POWs were replaced with extremely young men who slapped them if they failed to count in Japanese. From June 10, 1942, the young Japanese guards frequently roused the POWs in their sleeping quarters, looted their belongings, beating and abusing them physically. These incidents resulted in hushed talks about escape. To avert this, the Japanese guards adapted the Honor System, that is, for every soldier who escaped, their officers would be executed. On July 1, 1942, Cpl. William Knortz, Pvt. Robert Ball, Seamen Jas S. Smith and William Johnson escaped. Under the Honor System, Col. Robert Hale Vesey, Captain A.H. Price and Sgt. John L. Chandler paid the price. When asked about the whereabouts of the abovementioned officers, the Japanese interpreter only remarked: “They died like soldiers.” The Japanese were very angry with the escape. As punishment, all POWs were required to walk instead of riding to Iligan. The Iligan Death March At 8:00 A.M., July 4, 1942, the POWs lined up for the march at Dansalan (now Marawi), Lanao. The Americans were arranged four abreast and strung together in columns by a gauge wire through their belts. The Filipino POWs, though unwired, were to walk barefooted. As it was the 4th of July, the march was mockingly dubbed the “Independence Day March.” A truckload of Japanese soldiers with a mounted machine gun followed the prisoners, ready to shoot anybody who tried to escape. As the day progressed, the midday tropical sun became unbearable. Without food and water, one by one the soldiers fell down due to exhaustion. Those who fell were left behind after they fell were shot to prevent them from joining the guerrillas. Among those killed during the March were Mr. Childress ( or in other documents – Kildritch), an American civilian who owned a coconut plantation in Mindanao; Major Jay J. Navin, Commanding Officer, 84th Regiment; and. Robert Pratt, Finance Officer, 81st Division, who died of exhaustion in Iligan after the march.   The Filipino soldiers started the march at a lively pace since they weren’t tied together. But unlike their American counterparts who wore military shoes, they walked barefooted. A few hours into the walk, the hot rocky dirt road started to burn their feet, which was so unbearable that some of them started crawling. One was left behind. The Japanese guard, tired of prodding him to walk, bayoneted him to death. As the march continued, the Japanese killed four more Filipinos, including a Medical Officer with a Red Cross band on his arm. By the end of the day, Fullerton, Jr. estimated some ten or twelve Filipino soldiers were killed by bayoneting or shooting. At St. Michael’s Academy, Iligan By mid-afternoon, when the throng was about 3 kilometers from Iligan, the gauge tie was removed. They arrived in Iligan at around 7:00 P.M. tired, thirsty, hungry and exhausted. The POWs, both Filipinos and Americans, were housed in a rickety two-story school building of St. Michael’s Academy, located across the St. Michael’s Church in Iligan. The Filipino POWs occupied the first floor while the Americans were locked at the second floor. Off to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon After a two-day layover in Iligan, the POWs boarded a canon boat on July 6, 1942, and sailed a hundred miles east along the shore of Mindanao to Cagayan de Misamis, the capital town in Northern Mindanao. From there, trucks took them to Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon where they joined other POWs from Mindanao. The Japanese guards continued to loot the POWs’ money, valuables, gold rings, wristwatches, etc. on the pretext that the POWs had to purchase their own food or transportation. While the Bataan Death March is a widely known indignity to WWII POWs, there seems to be only scanty accounts of the Iligan Death March. At least four (4) of the American POWs who suffered through this death march eventually survived the war and narrated their ordeals before they died. They were Victor L. Mapes, Herbert L. Zincked, Richard P. Beck and Frederick M. Fullerton, Jr. These narratives, however, can only be found online. After validating these sources, it is now possible to retell the story of the Mindanao Death March for present and future generations. Aftermath On the Fourth of July, 1942, Lt. Col. Wendell W. Fertig sat on a high hill near Dansalan looking down on the National Road. Below him the Japanese paraded a long line of ragtag and malaria ridden POWs, in hopes of impressing the citizens of Mindanao. At the head of the column they placed Brigadier General Guy Fort in an open truck. The POWs shambled forward tied together foot and hand with telephone wire. Whenever they lagged, Japanese guards beat them or jabbed them with bayonets fixed on their long rifles. When they fell they were stabbed. Watching from above, Fertig decided he would never surrender. He would fight. (from They Fought Alone, by John Keats, pp 82-83) By late 1944, Fertig commanded the 10th Military District of the US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP) a guerrilla force estimated at 36,000—the equivalent of an Army Corps—with 16,500 of them armed. The USFIP killed at least 7,000 Japanese soldiers and, while a constant drain on Japanese resources, they also prevented the Japanese from fully utilizing Mindanao's resources in support of its war efforts. At one time, the Japanese committed approximately 60,000 troops in an attempt to crush guerrilla resistance on Mindanao, troops that were desperately needed elsewhere. Throughout the entire Philippines, the guerrillas managed to tie down a Japanese army of 288,000 troops, of which approximately 43,000–60,000 were on Mindanao, depending on the time period. (From PBS. 2009. MacArthur: The Guerrilla War. Retrieved March 30, 2021; and  Schmidt, Larry. (1982). American Involvement in the Filipino Resistance on Mindanao During the Japanese Occupation, 1942–1945

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2nd Lt Apollo Bacarrisas Tiano | The Forgotten Kagay-anon Hero in the ‘Forgotten War’

June 24, 2021

It wasn’t their war, but when one country threatens the freedom of another, Filipinos did not hesitate to answer to answer the call to arms. When the Republic of Korea (ROK) was created in 15 August 1948, the Philippines became the first Asian state to open diplomatic relations with the ROK, and the fifth overall in the world. Thus, when the ROK was attacked by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 25 June 1950, President Elpidio Quirino immediately answered the United Nations summons for assistance in opposing the North Korean invasion by deciding on 07 August 1950 to send Filipino combat troops to fight in the Korean War. The Korean War is often called the “Forgotten War” because the 1950-53 conflict happened between World War II and the Vietnam War. Although the main protagonists were North and South Korea, it was actually more a “proxy war”  between the communist Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China on one side, and the United Nations (UN) of democratic allies on the other led by the United States. The Philippine Congress passed Republic Act 573 (the Philippine Military Aid to the UN Act) on 25 August 1950 authorizing the deployment of Filipino combat troops to defend South Korea under the umbrella of the United Nations Command (UNC). President Quirino signed RA 573 into law on 07 September 1950 and immediately dispatched the 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) to Korea, the first of five BCTs collectively named the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) becoming the first Asian country and only the third UN member state to send combat troops to the area. Five Philippine BCTs with a total strength of 7,420 officers and men served in Korea from 1950 to 1955 as PEFTOK. Collectively, these BCTs constituted the Regimental Combat Team promised by the Philippines in August 1950 to the United Nations war effort.  “They were actually Armed Forces of the Philippines BCTs since PEFTOK had an air (Philippine Air Force) and naval (Philippine Navy) personnel and units embedded,” said CDR Mark R Condeno, Naval Historian and Museum Curator of the PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall Museum. PEFTOK consisted of the 10th Battalion Combat Team (Motorized); 20th Battalion Combat Team (Motorized); 19th Battalion Combat Team (Motorized); 14th Battalion Combat Team, and 2nd Battalion Combat Team. All the PEFTOK BCTs were combat experienced units, with veterans who had fought against the Imperial Japanese Army as soldiers and guerrillas from 1942 to 1945. They suffered 112 killed in action, 299 wounded,16 missing, and 41 repatriated during POW exchanges. The last of the Philippine troops left Korea on 13 May 1955. The PEFTOK comes to Korea On 19 September 1950, the Philippines’ 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) with about 1,400 men landed at the port of Busan as the first of the five BCTs that would serve under the UNC in Korea for the period 1950-1955. It was the eighth UNC ground combat unit to enter the Korean War. The 10th BCT immediately made an impact by defeating two battalions of North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) in the Battle of Miudong on 11 November 1950. However, two weeks later the Korean War escalated when the PROC threw its Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) into the fray on 19 October 1950 and nearly overwhelmed the UN Force, throwing it back deep into South Korea. The (Chinese) People's Volunteer Army (PVA) was the armed forces deployed by the PROC during the Korean War. Although all units in the PVA were actually transferred from the People's Liberation Army (the official name of the Chinese armed forces) under orders of Mao Zedong, the PVA was separately constituted in order to prevent an official war with the United States. Again, the 10th BCT proved its mettle when it stood firm with only 900 men against a 40,000-strong Chinese Army at the Battle of Yuldong in North Korea, denying the communists a decisive victory. On 05 September 1951, the 20th BCT relieved the 10th BCT, which returned to the Philippines covered in glory as “The Fighting Tenth.” In late April 1952, the first contingent  of the 19th BCT deployed to Korea and arrived in force two months later. Like the other Filipino battalions who fought in the Korean War, the Bloodhounds was a veteran unit composed of soldiers who earned their stripes in the Huk anti-insurgency campaign. According to Cesar Pobre’s “Filipinos in the Korean War,” the 19th BCT “operated in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Rizal and Bulacan.” The 19th BCT was mainly tasked to hold a sector of the main defense line along the Chorwon-Sibyon-yi corridor, which is in the west central sector of the Korean peninsula. Eleven days later, it successfully defended Hill 191 and Hill Eerie in the Battle for Combat Outpost No. 8, a fierce four-day engagement (17-21 June 1952) which brings us to our story. The 20th BCT recaptured Hill Eerie on 21 May 1952, a strategic observation post was invaluable to PEFTOK its future encounters with the PVA. Then 1Lt Fidel V. Ramos, who would eventually become President of the Philippines (1992-1998), led one of the assaults. The Tiano Brothers Perhaps the most remarkable family of Kagay-anon patriots were the Tiano siblings, for whom the Tiano Brothers street in Cagayan de Oro is named after. No less than six of the family’s eight siblings, five males and one female, served with the guerrillas under Maj. Angeles Limena in the 120th Infantry Regiment, 108th Division based at Pangayawan, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, with the exception of the second eldest Nestor, who was killed in action at the young age of 24 while repelling a Japanese attack at Aglaloma Point, Bataan on Jan. 23, 1942. The eldest Ronaldo served as a 1st Lt. in the nascent Philippine Army Air Force (PAAC), survived the Bataan Death March, but was released by the Japanese from the POW Camp in Capas, Tarlac, then found his way home to join the 120th Infantry Regiment. After the war he joined the newly organized Philippine Air Force (PAF) but left after 18 months to join Philippine Airlines (PAL) and died in a plane crash on Jan. 24, 1950. Uriel became a sergeant of “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, and ended the war in the Signal Corps. The youngest brother Jaime was a private first class at only 15 years of age, and served as a medical aide of the 120th Regimental Hospital at Talacogon, Lugait, Misamis Oriental, together with his sister 1st Lt. Fe B. Tiano (RN), who was the unit’s sole regimental nurse. As Cpl. Jesus B. Ilogon relates in his unpublished manuscript, Memoirs of a Guerrilla: The Barefoot Army, “This is the story of the Tianos-brave and courageous, their battles are now part of history. While they went to war, their parents Emilia Bacarrisas and Leocadio Tiano, and two sisters Ruth and Emily were left in Lapad (Alubijid, now part of Laguindingan), to stoke the home fires burning,” Ilogon noted. The only surviving sibling Ruth Tiano-Pañares, had an outstanding career as a teacher and Scouter, and celebrated her 100th birthday recently on 08 June 2021 with family and friends.  Apollo Bacarrisas Tiano However, this particular story is about the third eldest sibling Apollo, who served as a 2nd Lt. and platoon leader of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Regiment, 108th Division based in Initao, Misamis Oriental during World War II and later, the Korean War. Apollo was born on February 19, 1923, in Cagayan de Oro city, the third of eight siblings. He finished his elementary school at the City Central School and was a high school senior at the Misamis Oriental High School when World War II broke out on December 8, 1941. In 1942, he joined the guerillas with his four other siblings.   Pol, as he was known to family and friends, was promoted to Second Lieutenant and was part of the expeditionary battalion composed of troops from various guerrilla units  that conducted mopping up operations against Japanese stragglers during the Liberation period in 1945. As the commanding officer of the E Company, Apollo helped liberate Malabang, Lanao, in Cotabato and Davao together with the 24th Division, 10th Corps of the US 8th Army. After his honorable discharge, he took up Civil Engineering at Far East University, but later shifted to a nautical course and graduated with honors at the Philippine Maritime Institute (PMI) in 1950. Although he could have chosen another profession after his service as a guerrilla during the Second World War, Pol chose to enroll at the  AFP Service School in Fort McKinley where he became a Second Lieutenant and an instructor of the school. A year later, he volunteered for combat duty in Korea where he was given the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and became a platoon leader for the 1st Platoon, Reconnaissance Company, 19th BCT of the PEFTOK. The first contingent of the 19th arrived in Korea late April 1952 with the last contingent rotating to Korea two months later. We chose this week to recall his ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom being the 69th Anniversary of the Rizal Day Battle for Combat Outpost No. 8 from June 17-21, 1952 where he distinguished himself with uncommon valor that inspired his men to turn the tide of battle and saved his unit from annihilation. The Rizal Day Battle for Combat Outpost No. 8 (June 17 – 21, 1952). As related recently by CDR Mark R. Condeno in a post on the social media page Defense of the Republic of the Philippines, this action dubbed the Battle for Combat Outpost Number 8, and also as the Defense of Arsenal Hill, Hill 191 and Hill Eerie by the the PEFTOK's 19th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) known as the Bloodhounds that fought a gory four-day battle against the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) 349th and 117th Regiments attempting to overrun their positions in Combat Outpost No. 8, a tactically important segment which comprised Hill 191 (also known as Arsenal Hill) and Hill Eerie. The 19th held a segment of the main line of resistance in the Chorwon-Siboni corridor in the west central sector of Korea. It was first attached operationally to the US I Corps and then to the US 45th Infantry Division. Armistice negotiations to end the war were being discussed when the 19th went into action against the PVA. On June 16-17, the 19th BCT under the command of Col Ramon Z Aguirre, relieved the 2nd Battalion of the US Army's 179th Infantry Division on T-Bone Ridge, Hill 477 (Chondoksan), Combat Outpost 7 (Yoke and Uncle) and Combat Outpost 8 (Eerie and Hill 191) upon orders of Major General David L. Ruffner, Commanding General, US 45th Infantry Division. The hills dominating the Chorwon-Siboni area was considered the most vulnerable sector of the UNC’s front line. The 19th BCT was complemented by the following US units in defense of the assigned area: K Coy, 179th Infantry; 2nd Battalion, 279th Infantry (support); Tank Platoon, 245th Tank Battalion, and the 158th Field Artillery Battalion (with the 19ths FA Battery attached). Overall control of the supporting weapons was delegated to the 19th Heavy Weapons Coy, with 75mm Recoilless Rifles, 3 Half-tracks equipped with Quad 50s, a reinforced Mortar Platoon with 7 Mortars and 2 US Army tanks from the 179th Infantry. The Chinese PVA units commenced the attack on June 18th with an artillery bombardment of the UNC positions in which the BCT lost 2 KIA and 4 WIA.  Fortunately, the artillerymen of the 20th BCT were still on hand and quickly responded with counter battery fire, reducing the impact of the enemy barrage, and allowed most of the Filipino defensive positions to survive relatively unscathed. USAF B-29 Superfortesses supported the defense by obliterating Chinese artillery and mortar positions at T-Bone Ridge which were firing on the Filipinos in Hill 191.  When Chinese snipers began taking potshots at the Filipinos, the Sniper Platoon of Lt Prudencio Regis PA killed 2 Chinese Snipers and neutralized the others. The artillery duel between the two sides continued on 19 June followed by a night probing  mission of the West of Hill 191 which was repulsed by the Filipinos, though 2Lt Cosme Acosta of the 20th BCT was KIA and eight other personnel wounded. By dusk, the heavy guns of the Chinese fell silent. The Filipino defenders immediately went on heightened alert since based on the experience of the 10th and 20th BCTs, the Chinese were wont to launch their vaunted human wave attacks under cover of darkness. The Chinese troops attacked and flares shot up into the sky to light up the battlefield. The Filipino-manned 105mm howitzers directed by the 20th BCT fire observers rained shells on the exposed Chinese troops, forcing them to retreat, but that wasn’t the end of it. On 20 June 1952, Lt. Tiano’s 36-man platoon was ordered to reinforce the 19th BCT defenders of Hill Eerie. About 90 minutes to midnight, the Chinese again unleashed a barrage of artillery and mortar fire on the Filipino's with 80 rounds per minute, followed by a battalion sized human wave attack which flares from the 19th   showed were converging on all sectors towards Hills Eerie and 191. This was met by a heavy firewall thrown by the 19th Field Artillery and Heavy Weapons, further supported by US Army tank and artillery fire which destroyed many of the PVA artillery and mortars.  However, the following day 21 June, an even heavier attack followed on the US Army’s MLR and Combat Outpost Number 8. At some points along the Filipino line, the battle looked like the siege of a medieval castle with the Chinese clambering up ladders and the Filipinos shooting them down or pushing them off.  This time, the Chinese troops supported by two T-34/85 tanks (supplied by the Soviet Union), made a frontal assault on Hill Eerie occupied by the Recon Coy of the 19th BCT under Capt. Alejo Costales resulting in the destruction of the two enemy tanks.  Around 0105H a savage hand-to-hand fighting erupted between the Filipinos and Chinese in the perimeter of the 1st Platoon Reconnaissance Company under 1Lt Apollo B Tiano, which lasted until 0340H. Despite the enemy artillery bombardment, Lt Tiano ordered his men to “fix bayonets!” with the cry, “Laban tayo mga bata!” (Let’s fight boys!), and led a  bayonet charge against an incoming enemy platoon. Although he was struck in his shoulder by a bayonet from a Chinese soldier, he managed to kill his assailant, but would expire later from loss of blood when was again hit on his left shoulder by shrapnel from a mortar shell.  Lt Tiano’s courageous stand inspired the rest of his men to finish off the remaining Chinese squad which eventually led to their retreat although exchange by both sides’ artillery, mortar and rifle fire continued until 0500H.  With the coming of daylight, allied fighters and bombers finished off the rest of the attackers. Although the Filipinos suffered 8 KIA and 6 WIA, they accounted for over 500 of the enemy. It was estimated that troops from two Chinese regiments had attacked the lone Filipino battalion. With three battalions per regiment, the lone Filipino battalion had stood up and defeated an attack launched by six Chinese battalions over four days. Besides Tiano, nine other Filipinos lost their lives. Among them, Lt. Cosme Acosta, a forward observer of the 20thBCT’s artillery unit that had stayed in Korea. Acosta was scheduled to return to the Philippines once he had completed training the 19th BCT’s forward observers. Following the end of this gory, four-day battle, a group of Filipino soldiers ascended Hill 191 and, in full view of the Chinese, planted the Filipino flag on its summit. It was a heroic act of defiance that told the Chinese they had lost this battle. The Filipino battalion was later relieved by the US 2nd Infantry Division  on 18 July 1952. The 19th BCT’s stand during this battle did not go unnoticed and it became the first PEFTOK unit to be awarded South Korea's Presidential Unit Citation and a Battle Citation from the US X Corps.  President Syngman Rhee of the Republic of Korea awarded the 19th BCT the ROK Presidential Unit Citation Medal on July 1952. The medal is awarded to ROK and Foreign Military Units for exceptional meritorious service during the Korean War. In Memoriam For his gallantry in action, Lt. Tiano was posthumously awarded the Gold Cross Medal and Purple Heart, and his name is among those written on the Monument to the Philippines at Kyonggi-do near Seoul dedicated to Filipino soldiers who died in the Korean War. The men of the 19th BCT would later name their main encampment as “Camp Tiano” in honor of the slain lieutenant. On 18 September 1952, a monument was erected in Camp Tiano, Simpo-ri, Korea,  in memory of 2Lt Apollo B. Tiano  of the 19th Battalion Combat Team, PEFTOK, of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, who was killed in action on Hill Eerie, Karhwun-Gol, Korea on 21 June 1952. The dedication ceremony was attended by Brig. Gen. Jesus Vargas, Vice Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, during his visit to the camp during an inspection tour, and witnessed by Maj. Gen. David L. Ruffner, commanding general, 45th Infantry Division (AUS); Brig. Gen. P.D. Ginder, assistant division commander, 45th ID (AUS), and Col. Stewart Yco, chief of staff, 45th ID (AUS) with  Col. Ramon Z. Aguirre, commanding officer of the 19th BCT, PEFTOK. The Philippine Navy also honored the hero by naming one of its Conrado Yap class fast attack craft as BRP Apollo Tiano (PG-851), one of four fast patrol craft donated by the ROK to the Philippine Government on June 23, 1994. The vessels were received by then Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, who was a 1Lt and led one of the units that relieved Lt Tiano’s platoon on Hill Eerie. Pres Ramos recalled the valor of Lt. Tiano to his youngest sister, Ruth Tiano-Pañares. “I can never forget Pol, because of him, I am now your president.” Pres Ramos said because of Lt. Tiano’s astute planning and tactics, it gave Ramos and his men time to regroup and save their position. BRP Apollo Tiano was subsequently decommissioned on April 8, 2016. The remains of Pol, and his brothers Nestor and Ronaldo are interred together in Forest Lake Memorial Park (formerly Divine Shepherd Memorial Gardens) in Barangay Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City.

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A German Expat in The Philippines | WITH BEETHOVEN UNDER PALMS (XX) | Chapter XX: We all pack our things! Goodbye Germany!

June 23, 2021

It did not last long. Rossana agreed. We set up an appointment with the then Philippine Vice Consul Armando L. Comia in the Philippine Embassy Berlin. He looked amazed at us  - at me specially. We could get on very  personally through many events in the Filipino Community in Berlin. Then his secretary gave us a list. 18 requirements on how to apply for a Non-Quota-Visa Section 13 (G) of the Philippine Immigration Act.  Yes, my decision was firm. I wanted to immigrate to the Philippines with my wife and, of course, with my mother too, forever. Eighteen requirements - I took a deep breath. Rossana too. My mother, well, several months later, too. Fact is, our subsequent stays in the Philippines made her feel very much at home. Rossana's family had no doubt that sooner or later, we would settle here in the Philippines. Me too. Rossana too. Our coming and numerous trips to the Philippines each together with my mother followed. Meanwhile she became 73. "You don't transplant an old tree!" Many of our old acquaintances and friends in the place where I was born tried to intervene against our plan. "Where else do I have family?" my mother asked. Back in Berlin, we went on many trips. Poland, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland. I was a really passionate driver without speed limit on German highways (Autobahn). Sometimes, my car and I reached 200 kilometers per hour. But my thoughts stayed in the Philippines. A never-ending journey of my  mind. In Germany, Rossana and I had a steady and well-paid job. My mother was already a lucky retiree.  The construction work for our new house in the Philippines has begun. Who lives where? Where is my bathroom? Where is the kitchen? How does our furniture fit where? Ask about questions?  In the meantime, Rossana and I tried to answer all the questions the Philippine Embassy Berlin gave us for the emigration. I tried to capture more and more reports on camera about the Philippines for Germany, But somehow, I already lived here. On October 30, 1998 our non-quota visa was issued and signed by Vice Consul Armando L. Comia. Our households were packed in two containers. A 40-foot and a 20-foot container. Christa, our special friend, gave us shelter in her apartment for the last few days. Meanwhile, she worked at the Australian Embassy.  Goodbye Germany. We left a lot behind. No mention of any details. Many things awaited us. Good and bad, But my life as an expat in the Philippines started now. Ludwig van Beethoven was with me. And some others too. Should my trip around the world come to an end? Maybe. But with which amazing consequences? (To be continued)

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UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery celebrates 150 Years

June 23, 2021

Last May 28 and 29, 2021, all roads led to the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (UST FMS) sesquicentennial celebration. The inaugural ceremonies took place on the 28th of May at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion. Beginning with a eucharistic celebration presided over by Very Reverend  Fr. Richard Ang, OP, Rector Magnificus of the university,  the sesquicentennial year for the UST FMS was officially declared and upcoming activities for the celebration announced. Thomasian physicians from near and far attended the occasion. To enable those who could not be present to still see the inaugural ceremonies, the event was livestreamed on the UST FMS page. Health Secretary Francisco Duque, himself a Thomasian physician, keynoted the event. He reminisced about his life as a UST medical student and called on more Thomasian physicians to enter government service.   The day’s high point was the unveiling of the marker to be placed at the entrance of the San Martin de Porres Building where the FMS is housed. The marker highlights the beginnings of FMS as the Facultad de Medicina y Cirugia, which was originally located in Intramuros beginning in 1871, and FMS’s adherence to its Christian mandate and principles.  Very Reverend Richard Ang, OP, the Regent of FMS Fr. Angel Aparicio, OP, Dean Ma. Lourdes D. Maglinao, and Secretary Duque graced the unveiling. Very Reverend Fr. Francisco Timoner III, OP, Master of the Order of Preachers based in the Vatican, also delivered a message at the ceremony. The following day, a second sesquicentennial marker at the Plaza Santo Tomas in Intramuros, original site of the UST FMS  was officially unveiled. In attendance were Manila’s two highest officials, Mayor Francisco  Moreno Domagoso and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, as well as Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo. Also present were UST’s Fr. Angel Aparicio, FMS  Dean Ma. Lourdes D. Maglinao, FMS Assistant Dean Remedios Chan, and other Thomasian physicians. Both events brought much inspiration to the UST physician graduates and to their Dominican mentors, not only in celebrating the past and giving thanks for what was, but also looking forward to the next 150 years of UST FMS.

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Rizal Monument at Plaza Divisoria marks 104 years

June 23, 2021

Five score and four years ago, the patriot Porfirio Chaves and his wife Fausta Vamenta turned over on June 19, 1917 one of the earliest monuments in the country of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal which still graces the center of the plaza today. The city appropriately celebrated its centennial on June 19, 2017 with the installation of a centennial marker commemorating its first 100 years, and two marble plaques with Bisaya ang English translations of the original Spanish inscribed in marble. The late Dr. Erlinda Burton, then chairman of the Cagayan de Oro Historical and Cultural Commission (Hiscom), and Mayor Oscar S. Moreno led the unveiling of the Centennial Marker which was installed just below the original marble dedication written in Spanish at the statue’s pedestal. The two marble plaques with Bisaya and English translations of the original Spanish dedication were installed on two nearby plant boxes. The English translation was done by Ana Maria Villaranda while Henry Lasola of the Knights of Rizal did the Bisayan translation.

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