Pinoy Korea Air Force Academy grad: 'Nationalism goes a long way'
MANILA, Philippines – It’s an opportunity not afforded to many cadets in the Philippines. But Rex Edward Custorio, 23, of Pasay City, took the chance and became the first Filipino graduate of the Korea Air Force Academy.
He entered the academy in 2011 and graduated this March 2015. Custorio first attended the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) in 2010 before going through the PMA's rigorous screening process to send cadets to foreign military academies.
“It was certainly different,” he said. “Since I entered alone, I was able to immerse myself more in the environment. But strangely enough, I was never lonely because God blessed me with a lot of people that made sure I was well taken care of,” he said.
The most challenging part of the academy, Custorio said, was the language barrier. “There are plenty of Koreans willing to speak in English, but it's infinitely more comfortable and convenient to live in Korea if you know how to speak their language."
Despite the language and cultural differences, Custorio said he adjusted pretty quickly. “I didn’t feel anything special. It just felt normal,” he said.
Custorio returned to the Philippines this month and said he brings with him many important lessons from his time in Korea.
“Nationalism goes a long way,” he said. “I was fascinated by how South Korea was able to rise to the way it is today in such a short period of time. I believe that it was made possible, first and foremost, by the deep love Koreans have for their country,” Custorio said.
He also said when it comes to building character, it only takes “small steps.” Custorio said it’s about “small character-building habits."
He cited one example. "In fast-food restaurants, the person who ate will be the one to clear the table and throw it in the garbage can. If you look at it, it’s actually instilling in people to be more considerate to those who will use the same table later.”
Custorio added, “The same principle applies too when they ride in public transportation such as the subway and busses. There are especially designated seats for the elderly, disabled and pregnant.” He added: “Even if the train is full, if the passenger doesn’t meet the criteria, they won’t sit on those seats.”
Upon returning from Korea, Custorio will be commissioned in the Philippine Air Force as a pilot.
“Leaving Korea is a sign of starting another chapter of my life so at the same time there is a sense of excitement for what lies ahead for me,” Custorio concluded. – Rappler.com