• Mr. Jesse Baltazar, sixth from the left, at the introduction of the 2015 Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act

    Press Statement: FilVetREP Sends Best Wishes to Senator Mazie Hirono for a Full Recovery

    PRESS ADVISORY
    For Immediate Release
    May 17, 2017
    Contact: Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296

    Washington, D.C. “Senator Mazie Hirono has our support, prayers and best wishes for a full recovery as she undergoes kidney cancer treatment,” said FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret). “We know she will face this personal ordeal with courage and fortitude. Senator Hirono’s fighting spirit has always been a source of inspiration for the Filipino American community, most notably for our Filipino World War II veterans who have looked up to her as a fearless champion for their cause.”

    In June 2015, along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Hirono introduced the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, granting national recognition to the more than 260,000 Filipino and American soldiers who served under the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). Through Senator Hirono’s leadership, the Senate passed the measure in June 2016. Congress eventually passed the bill, which was signed by President Obama in December 2016.

    Senator Hirono has also led efforts to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their families. Her tireless efforts later led to the implementation by the Obama administration of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole (FWVP) program.

    “Our veterans overcame many challenges to finally get the recognition they deserve, thanks to Senator Hirono who was relentless in winning the hearts and minds of her colleagues,” Taguba said. “We are confident she will be as determined to win as she faces this latest battle.”

    Mr. Jesse Baltazar, sixth from the left, at the introduction of the 2015 Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act

    U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (right) poses for a photograph with Filipino World War II veterans in June 2015 during a press conference to introduce the Filipino Veterans of World War II CongressionalGold Medal Act.

    ###

    FilVetREP is a nonpartisan, community based, all volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness through academic research and public information and obtain national recognition of Filipino and Filipino American World War ll soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946. For more information, find FilVetREP’s website at filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter. Continue Reading

  • vetrans1A

    Press Release: Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project Kicks off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

     

    Veterans Organization launches series of events to raise profile of and support for Filipino Veterans of World War II for Military Awareness Month as well

    For Immediate Release
    March 23, 2017
    Contact: Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296, e-mail: jdmelegrito@gmail.com

    vetrans1A

    Washington, DC- The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project will take part in events around the country to celebrate May both as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Military Awareness Month. The confluence of these two nationally recognized observances occurs at an important juncture for FilVetREP as it continues to serve as a hub of activity around the recently awarded Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino WWII veterans.

    FilVetREP Executive Committee member Ben de Guzman wrote about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and its significance for Filipino WWII veterans on HuffingtonPost.com.

    Other FilVetREP leadership join advocates and leaders from around the country for the following events this month:

    Mr. Cabarcar Vimeo

    May 9: Noted watch and wellness company Philip Stein launches inaugural Philip Stein Cares Collection including the new Signature Global Filipino Watch at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC at 6:30pm. Local sales of this exclusive line of watches will benefit FilVetREP’s Congressional Gold Medal campaign. See more information about this event on the Global Filipino Watch Facebook page.

    May 13:  FilVetREP National Chairman will be the Featured Guest Speaker at the Filipino WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Memorial Tribute Fundraiser Dinner at the Renton Pavilion Event Center. Co-sponsored by a host of local, regional, and national organizations, the event will raise funds for the Congressional Gold Medal campaign. Tickets have sold out, but for more information, contact FilVetREPRegion8@gmail.com

    May 18: Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM) and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) co-host the fourth annual Military Leadership Luncheon at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, DC. The 12pm event will feature Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) as the keynote speaker and will recognize the Congressional Gold Medal for the Filipino WWII veterans. For more information, go to the PPALM event’s page.

    May 18: The U.S. Philippines Society is hosting an evening at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC to present a Special Edition of “Cadet, Soldier, Guerrilla Fighter: Remembering Bataan and Corregidor.” The book is a first person recounting of the battles of Bataan and Corregidor by Antonio Nieva. For more information, contact info@usphilsociety.org.

    May 28: The Filipino American Triathlon Club is planning the third installment of their “Run for Heroes” campaign at the Santacruzan Festival in Jersey City, NJ at 9:00am. Proceeds from the event, which will feature a 5K and a one mile race, as well as fun runs for kids. For more information or to register, sign up at filamracing.com.

    For more information on the latest updates for FilVetREP, visit our website or our social media presence on Facebook or Twitter.

     

     

    # # #

    FilVetREP is a nonpartisan, community based, all volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness through academic research and public information and obtain national recognition of Filipino and Filipino American World War II soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946. For more information, find FilVetREP’s website at filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Family members and descendants of Bataan Death March survivors at the opening ceremonies include US Navy veteran Senior Chief Petty Officer Rey Cabacar (left) and Philip Baltazar, son of Purple Heart Awardee Jesse Baltazar, the last Filipino Bataan Death March Survivor who attended the memorial march before passing away last year.

    Press Release:The Bataan Memorial Death March: ‘A Living History Lesson’

    For Immediate Release
    March 23, 2017
    Contact: Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296

    The Bataan Memorial Death March:
    ‘A Living History Lesson’

    This year's Bataan Memorial Death March has the largest number of participants, including Filipino and Filipino American family members and supporters of Filipino World War II veterans.

    This year’s Bataan Memorial Death March has the largest number of participants, including Filipino and Filipino American family members and supporters of Filipino World War II veterans.

     

    White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico-  Filipinos and Filipino Americans – mostly descendants, relatives and supporters of World War II veterans – showed up here in large numbers on March 19, to honor the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor in what organizers describe as “a living history lesson.”

    Along with more than 7,000 members of US military units, foreign armed forces, ROTC cadets, wounded warriors, veterans and family members, they came to reenact the ordeal suffered by 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers 75 years ago, when they marched for days in scorching heat through malaria-infested jungles in the Philippines following their surrender to Japanese Imperial forces.

    Largely unknown and almost forgotten, the infamous 65-mile Bataan Death March claimed the lives of 9,000 Filipinos and 1,000 Americans. Many more died in prison camps.

    But “the spirit of Bataan resides in each of us today,” said Col. Dave Brown, Garrison Commander of the White Sands Missile Range, where the Bataan Memorial Death March is held annually.

    In his welcome remarks during the opening ceremony, Brown noted how “a remarkable group of World War II heroes encountered horrific combat conditions on quarter rations with little or no medical help, fought with outdated equipment with virtually no air power, and survived the atrocities of prisoner of war camps.”

    Brown later asked all march participants to join him recite the cry of the Battling Bastards of Bataan: “No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam, No Aunts, No Uncles, No Nephews, No Nieces, No Pills, No Planes, No Artillery Pieces, and Nobody Gives a Damn.”

    After a brief pause, Brown exhorted: “Ladies and Gentlemen let our cry be known: We all give a damn!”

    Brutal and Painful

    FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba calls on the 7,200 participants at the Bataan Memorial Death March "to be inspired by the service and sacrifice of the Bataan Death March survivors and our fallen heroes."

    FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba calls on the 7,200 participants at the Bataan Memorial Death March “to be inspired by the service and sacrifice of the Bataan Death March survivors and our fallen heroes.”

    In his remarks, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition & Education Project (FilVetREP), recalled the “brutal, brutal, brutal” experience his father and his comrades endured in the hot jungles of the Bataan Peninsula, marching for 65 miles without food or water for days.

    Referring to the sandy and hilly terrain of White Sands and the 90-degree weather that marchers were about to face, Taguba warned that “it’s going to be painful out there, but not as painful” as the Bataan Death March.

    “Let us be inspired by their service and sacrifice,” he urged the thousands of cheering participants massed in front of the stage at six o’clock Sunday morning. “Let’s do it for them, for their families, for us and for our country.”

    Taguba’s father, Tomas B. Taguba, a U.S. Army Sergeant First Class in the 57th Infantry Regiment, was not among the eight Bataan Death March survivors who were seated on the front row that morning. He passed away in 2011. But Filipino World War II Veteran and Senior Chief Petty Officer Rey Cabacar, 89, of Fort Washington, Maryland was among them. His older brother Heren was a Bataan Death March survivor who died in 1981. Cabacar was accompanied by her two daughters from Fort Washington, MD. – Vilma Megorden and Genevieve Thompson.

    A poignant moment during the morning ceremony was the symbolic roll call of living survivors and veterans who have died since the last memorial march, followed by a bugler playing Taps. The Organ mountains overlooking the Missile Range echoed the names as they were called. Among them was Purple Heart Awardee Jesse Baltazar of Falls Church, Va. A Bataan Death March survivor, he made a valiant effort to attend last year’s memorial march despite his ailing health. He passed away a few months later. He was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.

    Baltazar’s son, Phillip, was seated among the families of survivors. Standing at attention while Taps was being played, he broke down in tears. He keeps returning to White Sands, he says, “because this place means so much to my dad. It reminded him of the brutality and savagery of the war, but also of the courage and nobility of his comrades who risked their lives for us.” Sixteen-year-old Ricky, Baltazar’s grandson who came with his dad to run the marathon for the second time, said he will always remember his grandpa’s advice: “Never give up, never surrender.”

    Historic Firsts

    IMG_1947

    Filipino American marathoner and performer Jim Diego sings the Philippine National Anthem during the opening ceremonies, a first in the history of the Bataan Death March Memorial.

    In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March, the singing of “Lupang Hinirang,” the Philippine National Anthem, was included in the program for the first time in the memorial march’s history. Filipino American marathoner and musical performer Jim Diego provided the vocal rendition. His great uncle, Ulrico Causing, was in the Bataan Death March.

    The Philippine flag was also prominently displayed on stage beside the American flag, another significant first. “It gives me goosebumps just to see the Philippine flag and hear the Philippine national anthem sung,” said Christy Panis Poisot of Houston, TX., a FilVetREP Regional Director. Her grandfather, Francisco Panis, was beaten badly during the Bataan Death March because of his rank as third lieutenant in the Philippine Army. He survived the prison camp and later rejoined Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces. He passed away in 2003.

    “Clearly, the memorial march is the nation’s largest gathering to commemorate a Philippine historical event, and the prominence given to Filipino American participation is a meaningful tribute to our Filipino soldiers’ role in the Pacific theater,” says FilVetREP Director Sonny Busa of Annandale, Va. Busa’s late father-in-law, Pantaleon Cawagas of San Narciso, Zambales, survived the Bataan Death March and later joined the guerrillas. This is the fourth time Busa and wife, Ceres, participated in this grueling trek.

    March in the Desert

    Now in its 28th year, the marathon drew the largest number of participants from across the country and all over the world. It was also the hottest, with temperatures reaching 91 degrees at midday.

    One team included Albanian, Filipino, German, Japanese and Korean master sergeants. Filipino American participants, estimated to be the largest this year, travelled from several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

    Since its inception in 1989, the Bataan Death March has been memorialized by a 26-mile march in the desert, covering paved roads and long trails of ankle-deep sand, and a 14-mile run for those who do not wish to run the full course.

    A group of ROTC cadets in New Mexico started the marathon to honor members of the state’s National Guard who fought in Bataan and Corregidor. It grew over the years, from 200 to more than 6,000 marchers each year.

    Taguba started running in 2005, with his son, U.S. Army Capt. Sean Taguba, joining him in the last few years. Former Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. attended in 2014, along with then Philippine Veterans Affairs Director Delfin Lorenzana, now Philippine Defense Secretary. Philippine Embassy officials and FilVetREP Board Members and Executive Committee officers are also regular participants.

    Of the eight Bataan Death March survivors who came to White Sands this year, Retired U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, 99, was the only one who walked. This was his tenth time to do eight and a half miles .

    The last person to reach the finish line was Kirk Bauer, an above-the- knee amputee who served in Afghanistan. He began the march at about 7:25 a.m. and completed 26.2 miles at around 10:00 p.m. This was the 68-year-old wounded warrior’s eighth march.

    ‘Duty to Country’

    The day before the march, participants availed of various educational programs, including display booths at the Exhibition Hall. The FilVetREP table was a meet-and-greet point and a resource for marchers and visitors. Among those who stopped by was Brian Duffy, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). VFW was the first national veterans advocacy group that endorsed FilVetREP’s Congressional Gold Medal campaign.

    FilVetREP Regional Director Sonny Busa and FilVetREP Program Director Ben de Guzman made two presentations at the Post Theater, which included a screening of the documentary “Duty to Country,” a discussion of the 1946 Rescission Acts, the nationwide fight for veterans benefits, and the legislative campaign to secure Senate and House sponsors for the Congressional Gold Medal Award (CGM) bill. FilVetREP also provided information about the National Registry and encouraged families of both surviving and deceased veterans to help identify CGM recipients. FilVetREP Regional Director Brig. Gen. Oscar Hillman explained the need to raise funds to cover the costs of CGM bronze replicas and FilVetREP’s education program.

    “I find it incredible that some marchers did not even know Filipinos were in the Bataan Death March,” Busa said. “

    A Hero’s Story

    On Saturday night, FilVetREP hosted a gala dinner at the Doubletree Hotel Sky Lounge, mainly to raise funds for the Congressional Gold Medal project. More than a hundred guests attended. Supporting organizations include the Filipino American National Historical Society, Filipino American Association of El Paso (FAAEP), National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), Bryan Ramos Law Firm, Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc., (UNIPro) and Tigua Indian Social Dance Group.

    Speakers include FilVetREP Chairman Antonio Taguba and Philippine Consul General Angelito S. Cruz of the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles.

    The evening’s highlight was a story shared by the keynote speaker, US Navy veteran Rey Cabacar. His older brother, Sgt. Heren Cabacar of San Narciso, Zambales, was a Bataan Death March survivor. After he was released following Japan’s surrender, he joined the US Army and was later deployed for combat in Korea. His unit, however, suffered defeat and was forced to endure his second death march – the Tiger Death March. A POW for 32 months, he managed to survive by fishing and planting corn around the tents. A prisoner exchange led to his release. He later found himself assigned to Portsmouth, Virginia. In 1981, he was murdered on his way home in an apparent hold up.

    “This brave soldier survived two wars, yet died in the streets of the country he fought for,” Cabacar said of his older brother. “His parting is a sweet sorrow and not in vain. He served this country’s flag well, with honor and dignity. The blood that ran in this soldier’s veins also runs in mine.”

    ‘Unforgettable Experience’

    Among the early risers Sunday morning is Zenaida Crisostomo Slemp of Seattle, WA., a FilVetREP Regional Deputy Director. She says her first time joining the Bataan Memorial Death March has been “an emotional experience.” On the day of the march, she wrote down a list of names on small sheets of paper and pinned them to her shirt. “I’m marching for my dad, Serafin Salazar Crisostomo and my uncles Marcelino Serra, Anatalio Ubalde and Pedro Crisostomo,” she said. “They were all death march survivors and POWs. I’m glad we have an opportunity to educate the American people about what happened in Bataan. We must sustain our efforts to ensure that their story is never forgotten.”

    Rea Sampilo, 26, President of UNIPRO Houston Chapter and Vice President of FANHS Houston Chapter, describes her first march as “an unforgettable experience. I marched for my grandpa, Benny De Leon Sampilo, a Filipino WWII veteran. It was definitely a challenge, but carrying his name on my back along with other veterans gave me the drive to complete the march. This was for them. Without their sacrifices and their service, we would not be here today.”

    # # #

    FilVetREP is a nonpartisan, community based, all volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness through academic research and public information and obtain national recognition of Filipino and Filipino American World War ll soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946. For more information, find FilVetREP’s website at filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Picture3

    Filipino World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Application

    image

    Filipino WWII Congressional Gold Medal Application

    Download Application Here
    NAME: (First) __________________________(Last) __________________________ (Middle Initial) ______

    Surviving:                               (YES)    (NO)

    Veteran’s Address:                 ______________________________________

    City: ________________   State: ______

    Zip Code: ____________

    Telephone #: (         )   ________-___________

    Email Address: _________________________

    Military Service Number:        ___________________

    Date of Birth:              ___________________

    Branch of Service:                   ___________________

    Unit Specific Name:                ______________________________________________

    Retired:                                    (YES)   (NO)

    Received Filipino Veterans                                                     Currently receiving
    Equity Compensation:             (YES)   (NO)  (Appeal)          VA Benefits:                           (YES)  (NO)

    POW:                                      (YES)  (NO)

    Date of Service:                       _________________  to __________________

    Location of Service:                ______________________________________________

    Physical Status:                       ______________________ (i.e. Walker, Wheel Chair, Cane)

    Veteran Attending Event:        (YES)   (NO)

     

    NEXT of KIN Information:

    NAME:  (Last)   ___________________ (First) _________________ (Middle Initial) _____

    Relationship to Veteran: _____________________

    Address: _______________________________

    City: ___________________ State: _________

    Zip Code: __________

    Telephone #:  (     ) _____-_______

    Email Address: _____________________

    Next of Kin Attending Event:  (YES) (NO)

    COMMENT: _______________________________________________________________________________

    I certify that the information provided above is true to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.

     

    _________________________________   ________________

    Applicant’s Signature                        Date

     

     

    For CGM  ONLY
    Region Certified National Certified

    “PRIVACY.  The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (“FilVetREP”) will consider information provided by you on this Application Form as private and confidential.  FilVetREP intends to use this information only in connection with the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal (“CGM”) project, including but not limited to, for the purpose of identifying and qualifying Filipino and American World War II veterans for CGM award, fundraising campaigns, and promotional efforts in accordance with applicable law.  FilVetREP does not intend to use this information for commercial purpose. By submitting this Application Form, you consent to, and expressly authorize, FilVetREP’ s (including its designees and authorized representatives) use, retention and disposition of your information in connection with the Filipino Veterans of World War II CGM project.”

     

    Please send you application for verification to the Regional Directors:

     

    Region Location Region Director Contact
    Connecticut (CT), Maine (ME), Massachusetts (MA), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New Year (NY), Pennsylvania (PA), Rhode Island (RI), Vermont (VT) Ben de Guzman bdeguzman@gmail.com
    Delaware (DE), Maryland (MD), Virginia (VA), West Virginia (WVA) Sonny Busa  sonnybusa@yahoo.com
    Illinois (IL), Minnesota (MN), Nebraska (NE), Wisconsin (WI) Jelly Carandang, Angeles MSJELLYBEANS@aol.com,
    Iowa (IA), Kentucky (KY), Michigan (MI), Ohio (OH) ArminM. Sayson armin@sayson.net
    Alabama (AL), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Mississippi (MS), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Tennessee (TN) Enrique(Dick) A. Aquino eeric421@comcast.net
    Colorado (CO), Kansas (KS), Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming (WY), North Dakota (ND) Michael Sembre mdsimbre@msn.com
    Arkansas (AR), Louisiana (LA), New Mexico (NM), Oklahoma (OK), Texas (TX) Maria Christina

    Panis Poisot

    Nonie Caban

    christypoisot@gmail.com
    Alaska (AK), Idaho (ID), Oregon (OR), Washington (WA) Oscar Hilman                                  Thelma Sevilla plchb@aol.com,
    Northern / Southern California (CA) Luisa M. Antonio                          Cecilia Gaerlan luisa.antonio@vetsequitycenter.org 
    Arizona (AZ), Nevada (NV), Utah (UT) Rozita Villanueva Lee                               Leo Fortuna rozitalee@aol.com
    Hawaii (HI), Guam (GU), American Samoa (AS), Marianas Island (MI) Ben Acohido vinusto@outlook.com
    Philippines and Overseas Embassies Fred Calbasi cabalsias@yahoo.com

     

    Instructions for the Application

    • Please Download the Filipino WWII Congressional Gold Medal Application
    • CGM USAFFEE VETERAN INFORMATION Tool Kit v3
    • Completely fill out the Application
    • Look on the page 2 to find the VETERANS (or Surviving NEXT of KIN) Regional Director Representative (Each Regional Director are broken out by US State and Us Territories). Please email directly to your Regional Director.
    • Once the Region Director receives your Application they will contact you and follow up to CERTIFY your documentation and/or eligibility (See below for Eligibility for the Medal). Never give any of your ORIGINAL Documents.
    • Should you not have any documentation, please see our RESOURCE LINKS page to request the VETERAN’s information. This process in ordering/requesting records may take some time.

     

    Eligibility for the Congressional Gold Medal

    “Filipino Veterans of World War II” to include an individual who served:

    • Honorably at any time from July 26, 1941, to December 31, 1946;
    • In an active-duty status under the command of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East; and
    • Within the Philippine Commonwealth Army, the Philippine Scouts, the Philippine Constabulary, Recognized Guerrilla Units, the New Philippine Scouts, the First Filipino Infantry Regiment, the Second Filipino Infantry Battalion (Separate), or the First Reconnaissance Battalion; or
    • Commanding or serving in such a unit as a U.S. military officer or enlisted soldier.

    About

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project is a nonpartisan, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness through academic research and public information and obtain national recognition of Filipino and Filipino-American WWII Soldiers across the United States and Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946.

    Purpose

    CONDUCT A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO:

    • Seek act of U.S. Congress to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Filipino American World War II soldiers.
    • Initiate conclusive academic research on the Filipino American Soldiers experience during World War II including the Philippine Scouts, Philippine Commonwealth Army, Recognized Guerillas, New Philippine Scouts, 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment, 2d Filipino Infantry Battalion (Sep), And 1st Recon Battalion.
    • Raise national awareness and public education/information on their wartime service and sacrifice in defending the Philippines and United States.

    FACTORS TO SUPPORT RECOGNITION

    • President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Military Order on July 26, 1941 directing the Philippine Commonwealth Army, Philippine Scouts, and Philippine Constabulary to be under the command of the Commander, U.S. Army Forces Far East (USAFFE) to defend the Philippines and United States.
    • Over 260,000 Filipino soldiers fought in WWII. An estimated 16,000 to 18,000 soldiers remain in the U.S. and Philippines.
    • The fall of Bataan in April 1942, and Corregidor in May 1942 led to the capture of over 72,000 American and Filipino troops.
    • USAFFE forces and Filipino civilians organized into Recognized Guerilla Units led by U.S. and Philippine Army Officers.
    • The 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment, 2d Filipino Infantry Battalion (Sep), organized in California, and 1st Recon Battalion participated in the Philippine Liberation in 1945-46.

    Resource Links for Filipino WWII Veterans to obtain documentation

    United States

    National Archives

    https://www.archives.gov/veterans

    National Personnel Records Center

    https://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/about-ompfs.html

    https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records

    https://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/navy-casualties/us-territories.html

    Access to Archival Database

    https://aad.archives.gov/aad/index.jsp

    https://aad.archives.gov/aad/series-list.jsp?cat=GP24

    https://aad.archives.gov/aad/series-list.jsp?cat=WR26

    US Veteran Affairs Records

    https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?ID=5380

    Philippines

    Philippines Veterans Affairs Office

    Please contact Camp Aguinaldo to their Military Records and obtain an AGO 23

    Foreign Countries

    Contact nearest Philippines Embassy

     

  • Bataan March 2017

    Commentary: Veterans march in recognition of Bataan Death March, in year after official recognition by Congress

    Bataan March

    by Sonny Busa

    Originally Posted in the San Antonio Express-News, March 16, 2017

    A group of six to eight veterans and spouses from San Antonio will travel to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to honor the Bataan Death March. One marcher writes on why he chooses to march.

    When dawn breaks on the morning of March 19, 2017, over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, I will be standing tall and proud with 7000 patriots from all over America as we get ready to honor the fallen and the survivors of the Bataan death march which took place on April 9, 1942 after the surrender of Filipino and American troops in Bataan in the Philippines. There are days of infamy and there are days of horror. The Bataan death march will always be remembered as one of the most horrific wartime atrocities ever. Of the 56,000 Filipinos and 11,000 Americans who were captured and forced to endure the death march to a distant prison most did not survive either the march or imprisonment.

    For the past 29 years the Bataan Memorial March has been conducted at White Sands Missile Range to keep alive the memory of that tragic event 75 years ago. New Mexico sent 1500 of her sons to Bataan and over half did not come back alive. For a sparsely populated state this was a staggering blow. No other similarly sized American unit suffered as greatly. Everyone in the state knew someone in that unit.

    This year the Filipino American community has special cause to celebrate. On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Filipino World War ll Veterans Gold Medal Act of 2015, a bill granting recognition to Filipino and American soldiers who served in the Pacific theater. The recognition is 75 years in the making. What better way to celebrate its passage than by marching in honor of those brave veterans, both Filipino and American.

    After a somber and reflective opening ceremony filled with stirring and emotional speeches, songs, bagpipe music, and rabble rousing cheers, the 7000 marchers who represent many active duty and reserve Army units, ROTC contingents, veterans groups, wounded warriors, and civilian support teams, along with relatives and friends of Bataan and World War ll veterans will head grim faced and determined into the New Mexico desert to march all or part of a track that is sandy, hilly, and beaten down by an unforgiving sun.

    I march in memory of my father-in-law, Pantaleon Cawagas, who as a 20 years old Philippine Scout, was assigned to an anti-aircraft battery on Bataan. He reluctantly obeyed the order to surrender and was soon sent out on the 50 mile death march to a prison camp. Along the way he endured unspeakable cruelties where their captors routinely shot or bayoneted their prisoners at the slightest whim. Cawagas escaped his captors along the way and spent the rest of the war as a guerrilla fighter where he gain a measure of revenge against his torturors.

    This is my fourth march. I do it for my father in law and for all the Filipinos and Americans who have been denied the recognition due them for their sacrifices. The Bataan death march is not taught in American schools. In the Philippines the march is a central story in the formation of the national pride narrative. To see many Americans marching to honor Filipinos as they honor their own is inspiring and is a tribute to all veterans.

    Hundreds of marchers will have pictures pinned on their clothing of their loved ones who were on the death march in the Philippines. The marchers will greet each other and tell the tale of the picture they carry. The accounts are all similar: a young man away from home for the first time in a strange country was caught up in a conflict that he did not start ,but knew in his heart that what he was doing was noble and was going to do the best he could for his country. Some stories end with a death, others end with a life well lived. But all end with pride.

    So we will march and feel no pain in memory of those that did the march under more telling circumstances. It is said that a person dies twice, the first time is when the last breath is taken. The second time is when their name is mentioned for the last time. We marchers will make sure that the Bataan veterans do not die twice.

  • Me and the flag

    2017 Bataan Memorial Death March and Surrounding Events Mark Historical Milestones

    PRESS ADVISORY

    For Immediate Release

    March 16, 2017

    Contact: Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296

    Participants of the 2016 Bataan Memorial Death March

    2017 Bataan Memorial Death March and Surrounding Events Mark

    Historical Milestones

     Annual race in New Mexico and celebrations in Texas commemorate 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March and Congressional Gold Medal

     

    Washington, D.C. Filipino and American World War II veterans, surviving family members, veterans advocates, community supporters, Philippine Embassy dignitaries, elected officials and congressional leaders will mark the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March with a series of events on Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19, 2017.

    The main highlight, the annual Bataan Memorial Death March (BMDM), is a re-enactment of the arduous 65-mile march by 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers following the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942. As many as 10,000 men—9,000 Filipinos and 1,000 Americans—perished in the march while many more died at prison camps.

    The BMDM is considered to be the largest commemoration outside the Philippines. The annual event at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico has drawn more than 72,000 people since it started 28 years ago and has grown to include a slate of different races with military and civilian divisions. A record 7,000 marchers from all over the United States are expected this year.

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), headed by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), will lead the Filipino American participation in the Bataan Memorial Death March (BMDM) on Sunday, March 19, 2017.

    “We are marching to honor the soldiers of the greatest generation,” Taguba says. “The story of Filipino and American soldiers gallantly fighting together in Bataan during the Second World War must always be remembered and shared. This auspicious occasion allows us to pay tribute to their service and sacrifice.”

    FilVetREP will have an Information Table at the BMDM exposition at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The table will be a meet and greet point for those wishing to meet Filipino American veterans and to pass out information about FilVetREP and the Congressional Gold Medal. For more information, see bataanmarch.com

     

    Celebrating the Congressional Gold Medal

    Adding a special significance to the memorial march is another historic milestone: the recent granting of the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino and American World War II veterans. Signed into law by President Obama on December 14, 2016, the Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 (Public Law 115-265) recognizes their service from July 1941 to December 1946.

    “The Congressional Gold Medal and what it represents provides an opportunity for the thousands of participants to learn more about our soldiers’ wartime service in World War II, their outstanding contributions and achievements, and their personal stories of heroism and uncommon valor,” adds Taguba.

    A Gala event in El Paso, TX will bring together veterans and their families, Filipino American community leaders, leadership from the White Sands Missile Range command, and BDMD participants to commemorate the Bataan Death March and celebrate the Congressional Gold Medal. Information about the Gala and information on how to support the Congressional Gold Medal campaign are available online.

    The major events taking place this weekend are:

    Friday, March 17

    • All day Registration
    • Survivor Descendant Welcome Reception, 3:00 – 5:00 PM

    WSMR Frontier Club

    • Movie: “The Great Raid,” WSMR Post Theater

     

    Saturday, March 18, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

    • FilVetREP presentation on the Congressional Gold Medal (CGM), including a video documentary, “Duty to Country,” and discussion about the project.
    • WSMR Post Theater

     

    Saturday, March 18, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM

     

    (Note: This dinner event is part of FilVetREP’s national campaign to raise funds for the purchase of bronze replicas for veterans and families, and to develop an education program to preserve the legacy of Filipino and American World War ll veterans.

     

    Sunday, March 19, 6:00 AM

    • Bataan Memorial Death March Opening Ceremony at White Sands Missile Range

    (Note: The Philippine Flag will be part of the Color Guard and the Philippine National Anthem will be sung for the first time. It will be rendered by Filipino American Jim Diego, an active marathoner and a member of  Broadway Barkada, an organization of Filipino American Broadway performers)

    • 26-mile Bataan Memorial Death March will commence after the opening ceremony

     

    FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, Filipino World War II veteran Rey Cabacar of Ft. Washington, MD., and FilVetREP Regional Directors Sonny Busa of Annandale, Va., Oscar Hillman of Seattle, WA., and Christy Poisot of Houston, TX. will be available for interviews during the weekend. Please arrange with Ben de Guzman, Tel. 202-422-4909 or Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296.

     

                                                                                                   

     

     

    FilVetREP is a nonpartisan, community based, all volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness through academic research and public information and obtain national recognition of Filipino and Filipino American World War ll soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946. For more information, find FilVetREP’s website at filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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    The 1946 Rescission Acts: Betrayal and Unjust Treatment

    imageFor Immediate Release
    February 16, 2017
    Contact: Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296

     

     

    On February 18, 1946, two months after Filipino soldiers completed their wartime service to the United States, Congress passed the first of two Rescission Acts stripping them of their status as U.S. veterans and effectively denying them their rightful benefits. At the time, the Philippines was a U.S. territory and Filipinos were considered U.S. nationals.

    Although they were sworn in by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as members of the United States Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE), they were deprived of equal protection and equal treatment as U.S. nationals – rights enjoyed by their fellow American soldiers who fought the same battles in defense of the same United States flag.
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    FilVetREP Mourns Passing of Col. Orlando M. Suarez, Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the USA.

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    FOR RELEASE

    February 12, 2017

    Contact: Jon Melegrito, 202-361-0296

     

    FilVetREP Mourns Passing of Col. Orlando M. Suarez,
    Philippine Defense and Armed Forces
    Attaché to the USA.

     

    Washington, D.C. “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Col. Suarez,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “His wife, Gemma Francisca I. Calalo-Suarez, and their four children are in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn the death of their loved one. We wish to convey to the family our deepest sympathies.”

    Col. Suarez, who served at the Philippine Embassy since 2016 as Defense and Armed Forces Attaché (ADAFA) to USA, suffered a stroke on February 6 while on an official trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. He died today at Straub Hospital. He was 50 years old.

    During his brief stint in Washington, D.C., Col. Suarez was very supportive of FilVetREP’s efforts to secure the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino World War II veterans.

    A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Col. Suarez was commissioned to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1988. He earned a Master’s Degree in Public Management from the Development Academy of the Philippines in 2010.

    His remains will be flown to the Philippines for burial.

     

    # # #

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan,501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

  • U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who sponsored the Congressional Gold Medal Award legislation in the House, congratulates Filipino World War II veteran Rudy Panaglima following passage of the Congressional Gold Medal bill. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Gabbard's Office).
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    President Obama Signs Bill Granting Recognition to Filipino World War II Veterans

     

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    President Obama Signs Bill Granting Recognition to Filipino World War II Veterans

    Next steps planned for newest Congressional Gold Medal recipients

    Washington, D.C. Seventeen months after Congress introduced the Filipino World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, a bill granting recognition to Filipino and American soldiers who served in the Pacific theater, their heretofore forgotten story of uncommon valor became enshrined in U.S. history when President Obama signed the measure into law on December 14, 2016.

    But it took more than seven decades for this moment to arrive.

    “After enduring 75 years of injustice and humiliation, our Filipino World War II veterans finally regained their honor and dignity with the signing of this historic bill,” said Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), Chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “With deep gratitude, our nation has now fully recognized the service and sacrifice of our brave heroes who fought valiantly under the American flag.”

    To FilVetREP Board Member Christy Poisot of Houston, TX, granddaughter of a Filipino World War II veteran, “this historic act by Congress and the President of the United States provides the foundation for us to ensure that their amazing stories of heroism are now part of the American story. This means my grandfather and my family can have closure. They will be honored and not forgotten.”

    Adds FilVetREP Board Member Sony Busa, of Annandale, VA: “It is said that a person dies twice, the first time when they breathe their last, and the next time when their name is mentioned for the last time. By awarding the Congressional Gold Medal, especially to those who have passed away, our veterans will not die a second time. They will always be remembered. This is the least we can do for these honored veterans who have sacrificed so much so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have today.”

    Bookending President Obama’s Administration in the closing days of his Presidency

    In lauding Obama’s action, Taguba recalls that among Obama’s first acts in office was the signing in January 2009 of a bill creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund, which grants a one-time lump sum payment to Filipino World War II veterans. “We also remember his most recent executive action this year to launch the Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program, allowing veterans to reunite with their families,” he points out. “He has been a champion for our veterans throughout his time in public service on the national stage, and we salute him for his leadership.”

    Taguba also acknowledges the tireless efforts of former Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI), who spent most of their years in Congress fighting for veterans equity rights. “They inspired others to champion the veterans’ cause – notably Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dean Heller (R-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate, and U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Joe Heck (R-NV), Mark Takai (D-HI), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Mike Honda (D-CA) in the House. Thanks to them, the 18,000 veterans who are still alive don’t have to wait any longer. We recognize Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) posthumously for his efforts on behalf of the veterans.”

    “Recognition, after all, is what our veterans need more than anything else, an official thank you from the government that ordered them to fight under the American flag,” Taguba points out. “But it can only be demonstrated with Congress awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal. They are most deserving of this honor, and we are heartened that in February 1946, Congress stripped them of their rights and benefits. In November 30, 2016, Congress passed the congressional gold medal bill to rectify a grave injustice.”

    A long journey

    Thelma Sevilla of Seattle, WA., daughter of a Philippine Scout, remembers “the sacrifices, and perseverance of the many Filipino soldiers who served the United States. Their journey before, during and after the war for justice and recognition has been a long and arduous one. And now that journey nears the end.  In my 20 plus years of Filipino Veterans advocacy work, I have come to know and understand their courage, patience, and quiet strength, waiting for justice that’s long overdue.”

    In Seattle, a number of living Filipino veterans are looking forward to receiving their medals, Sevilla said. Among them are 97-year-old Gregorio Garcia, 99-year-old Escolastico Galarosa and 98-year-old Joe Taton. “Along with countless fellow Bataan and Corregidor survivors and POWs who have since passed away, they would be thrilled just knowing that America has not forgotten them.”

    In Washington, D.C. 99-year-old Celestino Almeda, 88-year-old Rey Cabacar and 86-year-old Rudy Panaglima, are also delighted that the day they’ve been waiting for finally came. “My children will now have something to pass on to their children and their children’s children,” Cabacar says. “I’m swelling with pride that the America I served has come through for me and my fellow veterans.”

    Way ahead

    With the bill’s signing, FilVetREP is now planning the way ahead for the veterans to mark this historic event. Immediate plans include providing information for veterans and their families on how to get involved. The FilVetREP website, www.filvetrep.org, will be a definitive source of information, with an FAQ, updates on resources and events.

    FilVetREP will also work with the U.S. Mint and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts to design the Congressional Gold Medal. More than 20,000 bronze replicas of the medal will be produced, which will be individually awarded to eligible veterans.

    “FilVetREP has vowed to raise the funds to cover the cost of these medals,” Taguba said. “We also need to plan a national exhibition and create an education program, which will enshrine the Congressional Gold Medal, and the veterans whose service it recognizes, for generations to come.”

    “Given these activities, fundraising is going to be our main focus in the coming months,” Taguba said further. “We are counting on the Filipino American community, advocates, sponsors, and partners across the country to give generously and work just as hard in building our financial resources so we can accomplish our mission of preserving our veterans’ story for posterity.”

    “Now the real work begins,” FilVetREP Outreach Director Ben de Guzman states. “We continue to engage the White House and the Congress to make sure our lawmakers fully manifest the gratitude of a grateful nation for these veterans. We’ll be working with folks in Washington and around the country to make sure we lift up the veterans and that our celebratory events for them are worthy of the sacrifices they made in the war and have continued to make in the 70 plus years since.”

    Adds Nonie Cabana of San Antonio, TX., and a FilVetREP Deputy Regional Director: “We will also continue to engage our grassroots supporters who have been pivotal in securing the needed votes from the Senate and the House. This is a huge victory for the Filipino American community because we applied ourselves vigorously, in so many different ways of organizing and mobilizing, forming alliances at local and state levels, and touching the hearts and minds of citizens who rallied behind a worthy cause. We owe our veterans a huge debt of gratitude and the least we can do is make sure we keep their memory alive.”

    “Most importantly, to our Veterans of WWII, we proudly salute you with the utmost reverence for your distinguished service to a grateful Nation,” Taguba said.

    #          #          #

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan,501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

    Contact: Jon Melegrito 

    jdmelegrito@gmail.com

    Tel. 202-361-0296

     

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    Commemorating Pearl Harbor and the heroism of Filipino World War II veterans

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    FOR RELEASE

    December 7, 2016

    Contact: Jon Melegrito, 202-361-0296

     

    Commemorating Pearl Harbor and the heroism of Filipino World War II veterans

     

    Washington, D.C. Seventy-five years ago today, Japanese fighter planes bombed Pearl Harbor. On the same day, Japanese forces attacked the Philippines, a U.S. territory at the time. More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms to defend the Philippines and the United States. They would go on to endure some of the most horrific conditions anywhere in the world, including the Bataan Death March and the ravages of the bombing of Manila, second only to Warsaw in its destruction.

    They would not accept defeat. They would not quit. They would not leave a fallen comrade.

    Half of them died in battle fighting under the American flag, making the ultimate sacrifice as soldiers in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and as guerrilla fighters during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Those who survived suffered the scars of battle and the invisible wounds of war.

    They were forced to endure additional humiliation and a slap in the face when the U.S. Congress passed the 1946 Rescission Acts, which stripped them of their rights and promised benefits.

    Righting a wrong

    “This extraordinary moment can only be consoled with the award of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. “Through all this time, the veterans – those who have passed and those still alive today, remained steadfast and resolute hoping our country they had willingly defended would right the wrong brought upon them. Their determination to gain recognition was long and arduous.”

    On November 30, Congress finally passed legislation granting recognition to the 260,000 Filipino soldiers for their service and sacrifice. It took more than 72 years.

    “The passage of this bill on the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, and the attack on the Philippines on Dec 8, 1941 is a momentous event, which is now enshrined in U.S. history,” adds Taguba. “Commemorating the anniversary of ‘the day of infamy’ and the courageous response of Filipino and American soldiers to call to duty, should serve to remind us that their uncommon valor should never be forgotten, that this American story should be preserved for posterity. Always remembering what they did is the best way to protect our children and their children from the horrors of war.”

    Today, less than 16,000 remain, most of them ailing and in their 90s.

    Global conflict

    The Pearl Harbor bombing led to a global conflict. As a Commonwealth of the United States, the Philippines was inevitably drawn into the war. Filipino soldiers fought the Japanese Imperial Forces from December 1941 to December 1946. Thousands were killed, wounded and captured as Prisoners of War. Thousands more fought as guerrillas until the enemy was finally defeated, liberating the country and preserving freedom and democracy in the United States.

    “While Americans of all ages remember Pearl Harbor as a key event that triggered our nation’s involvement in World War II, we rightly commemorate the sacrifices of the brave men and women who fought for our freedom in the years that followed,” Taguba points out. “But much less is known or remembered of the thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who fought bravely for our freedom more than half a century ago and half a world away. Granting them recognition ensures that their story is now a significant part of American history. Honoring and remembering them is the best way to keep their memory alive.”

    They are America’s Filipino Soldiers of World War II. They are part of our American story.

     

     

    # # #

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan,501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

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