Filipino American Veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor for their service in WWII by US Speaker Paul Ryan (center) at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol. Shown in photo are (front row) veterans Celestino Almeda, Frank Francone and Dean Aquilino Delen; next of kin of Filipino and American veterans Alicia Benitez, Magrit Baltazar and Caroline Burkhart; (back row); Veterans Affairs Director David Shulkin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Ed Royce and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. (Photo by Les Talusan/FilVetREP)

Filipino WWII veterans officially awarded US Congressional Gold Medal

By Isabella Basco US Bureau

WASHINGTON, DC — During World War II, over 250,000 Filipino soldiers served as guerilla fighters and as soldiers in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

But after the war, President Truman rescinded the pledge of citizenship and benefits that were supposed to come for their service, and the Filipino veterans were not recognized.

For nearly 75 years, Filipino veterans and their families have been lobbying Congress for recognition. Since 2014, the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) lobbied Congress to give the veterans the highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Their efforts finally succeeded when the veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal on Capitol Hill on Oct. 25 where House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) all thanked them for their service.

Highest feeling

“They fought as American nationalists, they fought under the American flag,” Ryan said. “They fought gallantly with courage under the most difficult conditions.”

Among the veterans who were honored on Oct. 25 were Mr. Celestino Almeda, a veteran who represented the Philippine Commonwealth Army; Mr. Frank Francone, an American veteran representing the Philippine Scouts; Mr. Dean Aquilino Delen, a Filipino veteran representing guerilla units and Mr. Remigio Cabacar.

“It is the highest feeling that I have in my life,” Cabacar said. “I’m happy, very happy. Finally, the services and sacrifices of all the Filipino veterans is materialized.”

“For centuries, Filipinos have enriched our nation and made America more American with their courage, their determination, their optimism for the future,” Pelosi said. “They are the great pride of America – our state is home to 1.5 million Filipinos. We are honored to stand in your presence today.”

Jonathan Melegrito, an active volunteer with FilVetRep, received a medal on behalf of his deceased veteran father. For him, the Congressional Gold Ceremony is a stepping stone to a bigger goal — repealing the Rescission Act of 1946, which revoked the benefits and entitlements for thousands of Filipino and Filipino Americans. It eliminated their American nationality as citizens of the Philippine commonwealth.

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Ika-30 na Pagkikita sa Konsulado, Dec. 1

The Consulate General of the Philippines invites the community to its "Ika-30 na Pagkikita sa Konsulado"(Community gathering at the Consulate) on Friday, Dec. 1, 5:30 PM, at the Consulate’s Kalayaan Hall located at 122 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60603.

Stephanie Love-Patterson, Executive Director of the Connections for Abused Women and Children (CAWC), will provide a lecture-discussion to raise awareness among Filipino-Americans on the importance of addressing the issue of Violence Against Women (VAW).
This Pagkikita is in observance of the 18-day Campaign in the Philippines (Nov. 25- Dec. 12 ) to End Violence Against Women.

For details or to confirm attendance to this free event, email or call 312-583-0621.


Dec. 15 is deadline for 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace plans

Open Enrollment for the 2018 Health Insurance Marketplace will run only until December 15, 2017 which is the last day to enroll in or change plans for 2018 coverage. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

On January 1, 2018, 2018 coverage starts, if premium is paid.


Accurate 2020 Census count facing obstacles US Bureau

LOS ANGELES — Participation in the 2020 Census will play a critical role in guiding the distribution of billions of dollars in annual federal spending, which directly affects people’s livelihoods, say advocates for a comprehensive nationwide count. But there are emerging obstacles to a complete count.

Some community leaders are acting now to encourage as many people as possible to take part, because budget limits and modernization efforts may create problems for respondents as well as information collectors in 2020.

“Chair for the committee advising the Census Bureau Ditas Kitague, said October 6 that she is worried that there’s not going to be enough dollars for the partnership, multilingual media and outreach that needs to be done for our hard-to-count communities.”

“A number of undocumented immigrants are afraid of government, so to have them fill out census information is not easy,” explained Stewart Kwoh, president of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA)

Census-based data derived from people’s responses will be used to direct several hundred billion dollars in federal spending.

The George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP) reports that in 2015, the distribution of nearly $312 billion to Medicaid and over $64 billion to Medicare relied on census-derived data.

Decisions based on census information also guided the allocation and use of almost $13 billion in Title I education grants, $11 billion in special education programs and $8 billion in funding for Head Start programs for children under 5. Eric Anthony Licas


Interfaith service of Thanksgiving: Nov. 21

This year' 47th annual Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving will be on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 PM at St. Peter's United Church of Christ, 8013 Laramie Ave. Skokie (across from Village Hall). The speaker will be Mr. Kareem Ifran, the first Muslim President of teh Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. The Skokie Community Choir will also sing.

Cash offerings will go to the Skokie Human Services Assist-A-Family Program, and food donations will go to the Niles Township Food Pantry.

In these troubled and polarized times, interfaith gatherings of unity and gratitude such as this one are more important than ever; please attend if possible. For more info, call 847-673-1311 or email

(More stories on COMMUNITY NEWS PAGE)




The best tribute we can give our veterans is to understand what they sacrificed for

By Mariano "Anong" Santos

PINOY Publisher/Editor



It was a protracted battle and at long last, it came to a… oh well, shall we say…a sentimental fading- away ceremony on October 25. Geriatric World War II Filipino veterans, at least for few surviving ones, received Congressional Medals of Honor…from Republican US congressional leaders.

Left Photo: Claire Phillips, aka “High Pockets”The irony is ever present, considering that it was always the GOPs who hemmed and hawed in giving these aging heroes the benefits and recognition they deserve. right photo: “Agent High Pockets—A woman’s fight against the Japanese in the Philippines” by Claire Phillips is a reissue of the 1948 book “Manila Espionage” which was originally co-written by Myron Goldsmith and the basis for the 1951 low-budget film, “I was an American Spy.”

In 2009, then newly elected President Barack Obama successfully tucked in in his omnibus bill to rescue the faltering economy a $38 million allotment for the “fading” Filipino veterans who fought with the Americans during WW II in the Philippines. There were a few more concessions made but, by and large, the Filipinos were marginalized by the government that conscripted them. (See cover stories on pp. 11 & 19).

So Veterans Day (Nov. 11) is more significant for us, Filipino Americans, this year. It is note-worthy that the honoring on Capitol Hill on Oct. 25 took place during the FilAm History Month. It is paramount for all of us to get a clear understanding on how the contributions of our WWII veterans add to our importance as a community in this adopted country of ours.

Two years ago, few of us went to view the film “The Great Raid” at the Morton Grove Library. It was about the daring rescue of about 500 U.S. POWs who survived the Bataan Death March. They were imprisoned at a concentration camp in Cabanatuan. Reliable reports had it then that they were in grave danger of being massacred like what the Japanese Imperial forces did to the POWs in Palawan.

This compelling film is available from most local libraries. It is highly recommended. Check it out. This film touches on the role Filipino freedom fighters played in fighting the Japanese occupiers in the Philippines. This film was based on Hampton Sides book, “The Ghost Soldiers,” that chronicled the torture and suffering of American and Filipino soldiers from Bataan to Cabanatuan. Hampton’s book is also available from most libraries.

Then there “MacArthur’s Spies-The Soldier, the Singer, the Spymaster who defied the Japanese in World War II” This book that came out this year is a retelling of a 1948 autobiography of Claire Phillips whose exploits was made into a 1951 B-movie, “I Was an American Spy,” a glamorized and inaccurate depiction of Phillips’ espionage.

Above photo: MACARTHUR’S SPIES--The Soldier, the Singer, and the Spymaster Who Defied the Japanese in World War II By Peter Eisner (Viking. 368 pp. $28) Also available in large print)

(Read more “The best tribute we can give our veterans is to understand what they sacrificed for"...)




The ‘lone wolf’ and white privilege

By Rina Jimenez-David
Inquirer News Service

Editorial Cartoon by Jym Andalis

I’m sure that many folk, hearing news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the awful toll in lives—at least 59 dead so far, with 527 injured—immediately wondered if it wasn’t somehow an act of terrorism. “Terrorism,” that is, in terms of being the work of an organized group of killers, foreign almost certainly, who want the mayhem and murder to send a politically-charged message.

But, as far as US law enforcement is concerned, the deadly rampage turned out to be the handiwork of a single person, and as is increasingly true in America, the shooter turned out to be a white male, described in most accounts as a “lone wolf.”

In his “think piece” in the nonprofit website “The Intercept,” Shaun King wrote of conversations he had with two people, one black and the other Muslim, in the wake of Stephen Paddock’s actions. “Both of them said that, when they heard about this awful shooting in Las Vegas, they immediately began hoping that the shooter was not black or Muslim. Why? Because they knew that the blowback on all African-Americans or Muslims would be fierce if the shooter hailed from one of those communities.”


Comments King: “Something is deeply wrong when people feel a sense of relief that the shooter is white because they know that means they won’t suffer as a result.” White people, on the other hand, posits King, “had no such feeling (after the shooting) because 400 years of American history tells them that no such consequences will exist for them today as a result of Paddock’s actions.”

This “is an exemplar of white privilege: not just being given a head start in society, but also the freedom from certain consequences of individual and group actions.”
Or to put simply, in King’s words: “Whiteness, somehow, protects men from being labeled terrorists.”

A review of recent American history, even just a listing of mass shootings in the past 20 years or so, would show that “majority of mass shooters in this country (were) white American.” And that simple fact, says King, “changes absolutely everything about the way this horrible moment gets discussed in the media and the national discourse.”

(Read more "The ‘lone wolf’ and white privilege"...)



By Jon Melegrito

Letter from Washington


At the medals presentation hosted by FilVetREP, 19 living veterans and more than 300 next of kin of deceased veterans received a bronzereplica of the Congressional Gold Medal.

Ten days in October

It was a late kick-off, but Filipino American History Month in the nation’s capital was memorable in many ways. Activities related to its observance was packed in ten days, starting with a cultural and educational program at the newly-renovated Philippine Consulate and ending with a political forum on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

On October 19, the Rita M. Cacas Foundation (RMCF) partnered with the Philippine Embassy to host an annual, educational gathering to share the histories, stories, and research about DC area Filipinos and their communities. This year’s Istorya DC focused on “DC FilAm Dance and Music culture: Past and Present.” As it has done in past years, the Symposium continued to highlight a facet of Filipino-American history and culture in Washington, DC. by featuring the rich tradition of music and dance among the District’s Filipino-American community.

Dr. Theodore S. Gonzalves, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, moderated a panel of guests who have been active in the DC area music and dance scene over the last 60 years. Interlacing the panel discussions were special performances by the University of MD Filipino Cultural Association and Tanghalang Pilipino’s Angklung Ensemble, of which my wife and I are members.

On the morning of October 20, dozens of national Filipino American community leaders attended a White House Briefing, arranged by the White House Initiative on Asian Pacific Islander Americans (WHIAPIA). Senior White House officials from various agencies addressed issues ranging from immigration to health care.

In the evening, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) hosted a reception at Capitale, one of the more popular watering holes in the nation’s capital. Delegates from all over the country who came to celebrate NaFFAA’s 20th anniversary mingled with the locals over drinks, listened to music and passed the hat to support the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP).

(Read more "Ten days in October"...)




By Fr. Tirso Villaverde

Be confident with a sense of gratitude

On this month where our nation will celebrate a holiday reminding us of the need to be grateful, it is precisely that sense of gratitude that is needed most in the lives of every one of us. To live with a constant sense of gratitude is to live with the confidence to face every challenge and/or difficulty of life without reaching moments of despair or loss of hope.

I am sure that we can all agree that life can easily lead us to moments of despair. Events of recent history can lead us to that sense that life is only full of hopelessness. For us in Chicago, the violence on the streets that we see almost on a daily basis can force many of us to live with little to no motivation.

On a national level, we saw nature cause many disasters leaving many people homeless and without the basic necessities. We also see senseless acts rooted in hate as witnessed in the shooting in Las Vegas. These, of course, are just a few of the examples. We can perhaps name several more on a personal level—family quarrels, financial struggles, or even health issues. All of these can lead even the best of us to such despair that we lose hope, we lose motivation, and we may even lose the will to live.

This is why it becomes all the more important that we celebrate the sense of gratitude that marks this month of November. Yes, it may seem so simple and we may not even realize how powerful gratitude can be but it still remains a key to seeing the gift of life at all moments.
To be clear, living with a sense of gratitude does not imply that we live “up in the sky” thinking and believing that there is nothing bad going on in our world or in our lives.

(Read more "Be confident with a sense of gratitude"...)




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