I never met him.
My grandfather (Sgt. Bernardo Marinduque) is someone I wish I had the privilege of meeting. (He’s my only “real” grandfather, after all.) People who knew him had fond stories of him — from the military, from Panggasinan (where he was originally from) and from how he got stationed in Antipolo and met my grandmother. If ever our lives overlapped, I probably would’ve called him “Tatay,” like how I call my grandmother “Nanay.” Or, most likely, “Pops.”
He was a minor then, he lied about his age to enlist in the army. A smart boy, he studied bombs. (Yep, you heard me) He self-studied how bombs were made, and how to disarm them. He became part of the bomb disposal unit in the 14 BCT. Ramon Magsaysay dubbed them the Avengers. (Making me part-Avenger? My lola tells me that this is all in a book, and I’ve yet to find it.) He was one of the many brave souls who were part of PEFTOK that helped during the Korean War. (Prolly explains my fixation on Koreans, and Koreanovelas, lol.)
He was their guy when it came to clearing areas — he would sweep up landmines and disarm them, so that the American soldiers can have safe passage in whatever terrains they had to pass through.
One time, when he was studying a bomb — it exploded, leaving him blind. He was sent to Japan to get healed and luckily, was able to restore his eyesight. But by then, he was being shipped back to the Philippines.
The army stationed him in Antipolo, where he met Eva Leyva Tapucar, the woman who would later become my grandmother. They were both very happy. (The army was even asking him to go to ‘Nam — my lola wouldn’t allow it.)
In their life as husband and wife, they introduced 7 beautiful children to the world. A year after their youngest was born, he was taken by cancer. That was 38 years ago. (September 8, 1970)
Although I never met him, I feel I should’ve. After all, he was strong enough to become a good father of 7 — and look how my aunts, uncles and my mom turned out. My lola, who found individual strength when Pops was taken — would later be honored as an Ulirang Ina awardee.
Hope to meet you one day, pops.
If any of you has a relative who was also involved in The Korean War, or PEFTOK, or the 14th BCT, I’d like your input or any sort of background information you can find. Hit me up on email or leave a comment.
Thanks for listening.
[This is all second-hand information, from my Nanay and my Mama / Korean War Project]