Message from the Chairman

Congratulations to the Filipino Veterans of World War II – Filipinos, Americans, and Filipino- Americans who have waited 75 years for their time of recognition. They deservedly earned the Congressional Gold Medal for their loyalty to country and dedication to duty in defense of the United States and the Philippines.


We deeply appreciate the enduring support of the late Senator Daniel Inouye and the late Senator Daniel Akaka in championing the recognition of Filipino Veterans.


We are especially grateful to Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), and former Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV) who sponsored the initial legislative measures in both houses of Congress, S.1555 and HR 2737, respectively. Their efforts led to the passage of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, and the signing of Public Law 114-265 by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2016.


Many of us witnessed the event at the Emancipation Hall at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. on October 25, 2017, when House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Veterans and Families.  We saw the look of pride as they reclaimed their honor and dignity from a grateful Nation that finally recognized them after 75 years.


Since that epic day, FilVetREP conducted over 50 ceremonies across the U.S. and in the Philippines, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to hundreds of Living Veterans and to the families of deceased veterans. This once in a lifetime experience has brought together warriors and comrades who have not seen each other since World War II.  Their families also cherished the unforgettable experience of seeing their fathers and mothers finally recognized.


We have now embarked on the second phase of our mission – To develop and launch a national education program to educate the American public and raise national awareness on the outstanding achievements of the Filipino and American Soldiers who achieved a resounding and incredible success in defeating the Japanese Imperial Forces in defense of the United States in World War II.


It is imperative for FilVetREP and our entire community to jointly support and embrace this important initiative. We must not forget their battle for recognition, the injustice and discrimination they suffered, of being deprived of promised benefits, and for having lived a lifetime of adversity and indignation. We must tell their story before they all pass away. We must preserve their legacy for this generation and for the future. Their story and fight for recognition will be forever enshrined in American history.


We owe the Veterans an eternal debt of gratitude. We must accomplish this mission!

The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project consists of local, regional, and national leaders coming from various backgrounds spanning from military, politics, business, and advocacy.  The Board of Directors is chaired by Major General Tony Taguba (U.S. Army retired).

Board of Directors
MG Tony Taguba


MG Tony Taguba retired on January 1, 2007 having served 34 years on Active Duty.

He is President, TDLS Consulting LLC, which provides business consulting services to small companies – disabled veteran owned and economically disadvantaged.  He is the Chairman, Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM), a national, all volunteer, nonprofit, 501(c)3 tax exempt organization committed to mentoring and professional development of military and civilian leaders.  He served as Vice President for Army Account, SERCO Inc., a leading global services company from July 2007 to Nov 2008.  As a community service advocate, he provides assistance to Veterans with their benefits issues, help raise funds for college scholarships, and as a volunteer to the United Services Organization (USO).

Born in Manila, Philippines on October 31, 1950, MG Taguba was commissioned as an Armor officer following his graduation from Idaho State University in 1972. He served in numerous command and staff positions from platoon to General Officer level.  His service tours included assignments in the United States, South Korea, Germany, and Kuwait forward deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Selected for Brigadier General in 1997, he served as Chief of Staff, US Army Reserve Command, as Assistant Division Commander, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized),  and as Commanding General, US Army Community and Family Support Command.  Major General Taguba was then assigned as Vice Director, later as Acting Director of the Army Staff, Pentagon—responsible for directing and coordinating the staff actions of the Army’s Executive Offices and Senior Staff directorates within Department of the Army, Department of Defense, Congress, and Interagency elements.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was assigned as Deputy Commanding General for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC)/ARCENT/Third US Army, forward deployed to Kuwait.  He was responsible for overseeing the logistical and support services to US and Coalition Forces totaling over 150,000 troops conducting combat operations in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  His duty included coordination of host nation support from the Government of Kuwait, and security cooperation and training requirements with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Qatar.

Upon his redeployment, he was assigned as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (Readiness, Training and Mobilization), Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon.  He was later assigned as Deputy Commanding General for Transformation, U.S. Army Reserve Command in his final assignment on active duty.


His numerous military awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards), the Legion of Merit (4 awards), the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (6 awards), the Office of the Secretary of Defense Identification Badge, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco on May 17, 2008.  He was appointed a Senior Fellow to New Westminster College, British Columbia, Canada on June 21, 2013.


He is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA Degree in History, Webster University with a MA Degree in Public Administration, Salve Regina University with a MA Degree in International Relations, US College of Naval Command and Staff with a MA Degree in National Security & Strategic Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College, and US Army War College.

He is married to Debra Ann Taguba.  They are proud parents of two adult children, Lindsay, the Central Services Director of Newspring Church in South Carolina, and Sean, a US Army Captain who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marie Blanco

Vice Chair

Ms. Marie C. Blanco worked for the late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye for 34 years, during which time she addressed many of Hawaii’s unique needs, problems, and challenges.  One of her major duties was to ensure that any measure debated in the U.S. Senate did not adversely impact the state of Hawaii.  Her legislative issue areas included agriculture, banking, budget, business, energy, finance, insurance, and taxes.  Among the many initiatives Ms. Blanco managed and seen to completion were the University of Hawaii’s

Small Business Development Center Program, the breakwater repairs for the Kaumalapau Harbor in Lanai, Hawaii, the creation of the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, and the U.S. Pacific Basin Agriculture Research Center, in Hilo, Hawaii.   


Ms. Blanco is a strong advocate for the Filipino veterans of World War II.  She successfully and tirelessly worked on legislative measures that recognized the sacrifice, service, and contributions made by these veterans in defense of our nation.  Two most notable measures that became public law granted naturalization to approximately 25,000 Filipino World War II veterans, and provided a one-time benefit payment to over 18,000 Filipino World War II veterans.   

In January 2005, Ms. Blanco was promoted from Legislative Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, and in October 2011, she was named Chief of Staff for Senator Inouye’s Washington, D.C. office.  Ms. Blanco holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco in San Francisco, California, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the American University in Washington, D.C.  In May 2013, she formed MCB Consulting, LLC, a government relations consulting company based in Falls Church, Virginia.         

A son of a Filipino World War II veteran, Jon Melegrito is a founding member and former executive director of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA). Melegrito was co-chair of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) and has served in various advisory boards, including the Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC), Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the Justice & Compassion Task Force of the United Methodist Church, Tanghalang Pilipino ng DC (a cultural arts group), the Asian American working group of the US Bureau of Census and the GWU Philippine Cultural Society. A journalist by profession, Melegrito received his Masters of Arts degree in Communications and Public Affairs from American University. He retired in 2012 from the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), where he worked as a publications specialist in the Communications Department. Prior to AFSCME, he was a supervisor at the George Washington University Library. He currently writes for the Philippine Inquirer (Inquirer.net), Positively Filipino, Pinoy Newsmagazine, and Manila Mail.

Jon Melegrito

Executive Secretary


Region 1

Connecticut (CT), Maine (ME), Massachusetts (MA), New Hampshire (NH), New Jersey (NJ), New York (NY), Pennsylvania (PA), Rhode Island (RI), Vermont (VT)

Sonny Busa



Region 2

Delaware (DE), District of Columbia (DC), Maryland (MD), Virginia (VA), West Virginia (WV)

Jay Cabacar



Region 3

Illinois (IL), Minnesota (MN), Missouri (MO), Nebraska (NE), Wisconsin (WI)


Jelly Carandang



Region 4

Indiana (IN), Iowa (IA), Kentucky (KY), Michigan (MI), Ohio (OH)


Armin Sayson



Region 5

Alabama (AL), Florida (FL), Georgia (GA), Mississippi (MS), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Tennessee (TN), Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Bryan Ramos



Region 6

Colorado (CO), Kansas (KS), Montana (MT), North Dakota (ND), South Dakota (SD), Wyoming (WY)

Mike Simbre



Region 7

Arkansas (AR), Louisiana (LA), New Mexico (NM), Oklahoma (OK), Texas (TX)

Christy Poisot


Nonie Cabana



Region 8

Alaska (AK), Idaho (ID), Oregon (OR), Washington (WA)


Oscar Hillman


Thelma Sevilla


Zenaida Crisostomo Slemp



Region 9

Northern / Southern California (CA)

Luisa Antonio

Joe Garbanzos (Deputy Director)



Region 10

Arizona (AZ), Nevada (NV), Utah (UT)

Rozita Lee


Leo Fortuno



Region 11

Hawaii (HI), Guam (GU), American Samoa, Marianas Islands


Anita Loando-Acohido


Wilfredo Tungol