Monthly Archives: March 2014

ALL SET FOR THE SECOND PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY ( 116h) GRAND PARADE IN HFT ON JUNE 7, 2014

New FACLA News
March 26, 2014

ALL SET FOR THE SECOND PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY ( 116h) GRAND PARADE IN HFT ON JUNE 7, 2014

Los Angeles—All is set for the Second Philippine (115th) Independence Day Grand Parade in Historic Filipinotown on Saturday, June 7,2014 at 8;00 AM

FACLA President Austtin Baul Jr and Mayor of Historic Filipinotown Jerry Esguerra announced today that the preparations are on the way. FACLA’s parade theme is the Santa Cruz De Mayo .

Winners of Ms. FACLA and Ms. Teen FACLA 2014 will join the Santa Cruzan with other Sagalas. “There are at least more than 50 groups from regional to town organizations who have committed to participate in the said event.

The Parade starts and end at Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA). The assembly time will be at 7;00 AM and the parade will start promptly at 9;00 AM.

Assembly area at N. Burlington St (FACLA South Side)

PTI Mayor Jerry Esguerra said, “All participants and contingents are advised to converge at N. Burlington St from 7:00 AM to 8;30 AM for the formation.

They can assemble with their contingents and vehicles at the N Burlington St south side of FACLA for FACLA cannot accommodate all the people and contingents that will join the parade.”

FACLA Director Arturo P. Garcia, Parade Coordinator said, ” the preparations and working meeting will start the first week of Apriil for the 116th Independence Day and the Grand Parade to be held in Historic Filipinotown on June 7.

This is the second time that the HFT PH Independence Day Parade will be held in Historic Filpinotown where 30,000 Filipinos lived since 1945.”. Garcia added.

Participating Organizations for the Parade.

The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) and the Philippine Town Inc (PTI) organizers will lead the parade. Other groups who will participate are Historic FiIiipinotown Neighborhood Council (HFNC) and the The Justice for the Filipino American Veterans (JFAV),

Seniors 4 Pilipino American Community Empowerment (S4PACE), Knights of Rizal of the Historic Filipinotow, Silverlake CBAS, and other regional and provincial associations of Southern California are some of the participating organizations.

For more information please call (213)4841527 or email at newfacla@yahoo.com. or visit our website at newfacla.org

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FACLA SETS CANVASSING DATES FOR MS.FACLA AND MS.TEEN FACLA

NEW FACLA NEWS
March 24, 2014

FACLA SETS CANVASSING DATES FOR MS> FACLA AND MS.TEEN FACLA

Los Angeles–The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles(FACLA) announced the canvasing dates for Ms. FACLA and Ms. Teen FACLA for its Search for Ms. FACLA /Ms. Teen FACLA Contest for its 69th Year Anniversary, April 26, 2014

There will three canvassing dates for the candidates votes as announced by the FACLA Search Committee headed by FACLA Director Bernie Tagra-Ganon.

Canvassing Dates

The canvassing dates are the following:

1. The first canvassing will be on March 29, 2014 from 2:00 PM to 5;00 PM;

2. The second canvassing is on April 20, 2014 from 5;00 PM to midngith and

3. The final canvassing on April 26 from 6:00 PM to midnightat the FACLA’s 69th Anniversary on the night of April 26, 2014.

There will a dance party at the coronation and final canvassing. Buddy Reyes and his Band will play the music for the 69th FACLA Anniversary. They will be crowned by the outgoing Ms.FACLA 2013 Luz Marcos and Ms. Teen FACLA 2013 Stephanie Libres Uy.

Ms.FACLA and Ms. Teen FACLA Criterias

The Search Committee has laid out the following criteria for candidates:

1. Must be 25 years old or above ( for Ms. FACLA) and 13 years old or above for (Miss teen FACLA);
2. Must be of Filipino descent or at least 50% of Filipino blood;
3. Must possess good moral character and a member of FACLA;
4. Must be willing to represent as Ambassador of Goodwill to Community events like SantaCruzan, Philippine Independence Day and other occasions upon the request of FACLA and
5. Must be willing to support ongoing projects of FACLA especially in enhancing solidarity among Filipinos in California.

The candidates for MS. FACLA at present are Monet Marual, Precy Montero, Donna Canarez, Emette Underwood and Cora Miller.

Meanwhile candidates for Miss. Teen FACLa are Caroline Jimenez, Jazmine Morada and Mary Banawa.

Applications for candiates are still available at the FACLA office until March 27. Please contact Bernie Targa-Ganon of the Search Committee or FACLA Manager Clarita Julian at FACLA, 1740 W. Temple St. Los Angeles. CA 90026.

For more information please contact or call us at (213) 484-1527 or email us at newfacla@yahoo.com or visit our website at www.newfacla.org

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FIL-AM LEADERS SUPPORTS MASS ACTION TO DEFEND FILIPINO FARM WORKERS AGAINST THE LIES AND MISREPRESENTATIONS OF “CHAVEZ” FILM, MARCH 20

PAHAYAGAN NEWS
March 24, 2014

FIL-AM LEADERS SUPPORTS MASS ACTION TO DEFEND FILIPINO FARM WORKERS AGAINST THE LIES AND MISREPRESENTATIONS OF “CHAVEZ” FILM, MARCH 20

Los Angeles—After simmering and hot topics on the US and Philippine issues, this time, the PUBLIC FORUM (TALAKAYAN SA FACLA) last Thursday discussed “Chavez”, a film about the struggle of the American farm workers for dignity and economic justice that was premiered last March 20 in Hollywood.

Filipino-American leaders expressed their support to the protest action led by the son of Filipino farm worker leader Larry Itliong, Johnny Itliong and mural artist Eliseo Art Silva against the upcoming movie “Chavez”.

The scores of activists led by the Larry Itliong Foundation for Education (LIFE) rallied and picketed the premiere of “Chavez” at the Chinese Mann Theater last March 20 from 4:00 PM to 9;00 PM

Historical Contributions of Filipino Farm Workers in the US

Austin Baul Jr, FACLA president said, “ It is not right to marginalized or erase the contribution of Filipino farm workers especially Filipino workers leaders like Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz and others who fought for more than 30 years so that the American union movement will be a vibrant movement that is now.

Our farm workers leaders especially the pioneers of FACLA must be recognized, dignified for if not for them, we cannot achieve a sort of economic justice today and during the terrible and hard the times of terrible racism from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.”

Alliance leader Arturo Garcia pointed out,”FACLA is an example how four Filipino farm workers prominently a woman leader Petra Hernandez started a movement and build this social hall where we are now discussing issues. We will not let them be unrecognized nor marginalized by some big minority chauvinist who will try to erase them in the film and in current history.”

TALAKAYAN moderator Ka.Larry Pelayo also said, “ the issues than are still issues valid in our times. Now that immigration reforms are stalled at the US Congress, the contribution of Filipino farm workers in building America in the fields and the American union movement should be appreciated. We, the Filipino American will not let their memory be marginalized nor be forgotten.”

Critique of the Film “Chavez”

Noted Fil-Am artist/muralist , Eliseo Art Silva who attended the TALAKAYAN said, “ that the “Chavez” film was not historically accurate and ignored the contributions of the Filipino workers and leaders like Larry Itliong. Philip Vera Cruz , Pete Velasco and others.

The film also grossly insults the Filipino-American community by just ”immortalizing Chavez” while glossing over the role of Filipinos who were their partners in the United Farm Workers movement, ”Silva added.

Dr. Orly Cagampan and Atty. Terry Herrera also discussed the need for moral regeneration for our community and we can start this by acknowledging the contributions of those who came ahead of us like the Filipino farm workers who build FACLA and the American union movement.

Tommy Jones noted, “ A lot of Filipinos ( even those who were not farm workers )were legalized due to thefarm workers movement in the 1970’s and 1980’s who are mostly Latinos when President Reagan issued the amnesty law in 1986.”

After the forum, more discussions and preparation for the rally like painting signs and drafting the statement for the mass action made the participants busy for the rest of the day.

The TALAKAYAN also thanks Mr. Tommy Jones for the sumptuous lunch that he provided for the participants.

For more information please call FACLA at (213)484-1427 or email us newfacla@yahoo.com or visit our website at www.newfacla.org.

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IKALAWANG PAMBANSANG KOMPERENSYA NG JFAV, GAGANAPIN SA UCLA SA IKA-5 NG ABRIL

JFAV UPDATES (Edisyong Pilipino)
March 22, 2014

IKALAWANG PAMBANSANG KOMPERENSYA NG JFAV, GAGANAPIN SA UCLA SA IKA-5 NG ABRIL

Los Angeles –Ipinahayag ng Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), na gaganapin ang kanilang Ikalawang Pambansang Komperensya sa ika-5 ng Abril, 2014 sa University of California of Los Angeles (UCLA).

Ang tema ang Ikalwang Pambansang Komperensya ng JFAV ay “ Pagtibayin ang mga Tagumpay at Isulong ang Pakikibaka Para sa Pagkakapantay-pantay at Hustisya ( ” Consolidate Our Gains, Struggle for Veterans/Survivors Equity and Justice”) .Gaganapin ang komperensya sa .UCLA Student Activities Center Rooms 1, 2 and 3 mula 9:00 ng umaga hanggang ika- 6 PM ng gabi.

Ipinahayag ng (JFAV) National Coordinator Arturo Garcia, “Ito na ang ikalawang pambansang komperensya sa loob ng walong taon. Ang unang komperensya ay nang buuin ang JFAV bilang isang pambansang organisasyon noong 2006 dito rin sa UCLA.

Noon ang JFAV ay isang pangkampanyang organisasyon ng People’s CORE. Nakabase lamang ito sa timog California ngunit tinanggap ng JFAV na magbuo ng isang pambasang organisasyon dahil ito ay kailangan.”

Pagtibayin ang mga Tagumpay

Sabi pa ni Garcia, “ngayon na nakapagpalawak na ang JFAV, nailatag na nito ang lobby sa US Congress at nagsampa ng mga kaso sa korte hangggang sa Korte Suprema ng Amerika, panahon nang palakasin ang JFAV.

Kailangan nating itaas ang antas ng pakikibaka lalo na at nasimulan na ang lobby sa Kongreso mula noong 2010 at nakapagsampa na nga mga kaso laban sa DVA at nakapagorganisa na tayo ng mga dagdag na organisasyon tulad ng AWARE, S4PACE at iba pa .

Kailangan nating isulong ang pakikibaka lalo na para sa mga nalalabing betreano, balo at kanilang mga kaanak na pinagkakaitan ng mga benepisyong dapat ay matamasa nila. Lalo na at kumakaunti na sila at kinakaos na tayo ng panahon.”

Mga Kinakailangang Pagsisikap

Sinabi pa ni Garcia, “ Ang mga balangay ng JFAV sa bawat lugar ay magsisikap na magpadala ng mga delegado sa isang araw na komperensya .

Masigla nilang babalangkasin ang mga kinakailangang hakbang para sa susunod na mga Gawain at atas para sa kapakanan ng nalalabing 41,000 beterano at may 60,000 na kaanak nila sa Amerika at sa Pilipinas. Kasama na rito ang pagpapasigla sa kampanya para sa Philippine Studies sa mga paaralan at unibersidad.

Kaya nanawagan ang JFAV sa lahat ng mga aktibistang Pilipino-Amerikano, mga alyado, kaibigan at tagapagtaguyod na sumama at lumahok sa Ikalawang Pambansang Komperensya ng JFAV sa Abril 5 sa UCLA.

Ang Tao , ang Bayan, Magpapanalo sa Laban!

IPAGLABAN ANG MGA KARAPATAN NG MGA BETERANO AT BALO!

LAKAS NG BAYAN, IPAGWAWAGI NG MAMAMAYAN!!

Maari lamang ilaan ang araw sa Abril 5 at dumalo gayunin dalawin ang aming FB page sa jfav-los angeles.o tumawag sa (213)241-0995 o mag- email sa amin sa pilipinokami76@yahoo.com at sa agarcia@peoplescore.net o a unrecognizedvets@yahoo.com. Maari ding dumalaw sa website ng newfacla.org sa dagdag na impormasyon.

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JFAV SECOND NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON APRIL 5 in UCLA

JFAV UPDATES
March 20, 2014

JFAV SECOND NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON APRIL 5 in UCLA

Los Angeles –The Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV), announced today, its Second National Conference to be held at the University of California of Los Angeles (UCLA) on April 5, 2014

JFAV 2nd National Conference’s Theme; ” Consolidate Our Gains, Struggle for Veterans/Survivors Equity and Justice” will be held on April 5,2014
9:00 AM to 6 PM at the UCLA Student Activities Center Rooms 1, 2 and 3

The Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) National Coordinator Arturo Garcia said, “This will be the JFAV’s 2nd National Conference. The first JFAV National Conference was eight year ago, was also held in UCLA in 2006.

At that time JFAV that was based only in Southern California, took the challenging step to build a national organization. ”

Consolidate the JFAV Gains

Garcia reported, ” now, that JFAV has expanded and has led the lobby in the US Congress and have challenged the US Government in Courts, it’s time for JFAV to consolidate,raise the ante while there is still time for the last remaining veterans and survivors and look for the near future “ Garcia added.

Garcia also said, “ JFAV Chapters Nationwide and each regions will attend the one day conference in UCLA and map out next steps for advocacy and lobbying in the US Congress, campaign for the welfare and rights of the remaining 41,000 Filipino veterans and 60,000 of their survivors and the pursuance of Pilipino Studies in schools in the United States.

JFAV therefore is calling on all Filipino-American activist, allies, advocates and friends to save the date and join its 2nd national Conference on April 5 at UCLA:

COMMUNITY EMPOWERED, CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED!
IPAGLABAN ANG MGA KARAPATAN NG MGA BETERANO AT BALO!
LAKAS NG BAYAN, IPAGWAWAGI NG MAMAMAYAN!!

Please save the date and visit our FB page at jfav-los angeles.or call (213)241-0995 or email us at pilipinokami76@yahoo.com or agarcia@peoplescore.net or at unrecognizedvets@yahoo.com

*****

Fil-Am leaders welcome new LA consul general

Los Angeles, 10 March 2014 – Consul General Ma. Hellen Barber De La Vega is pleased and honored to announce the appointment by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Albert F. Del Rosario of the current Philippine Consul General in Chicago, Hon. Leo Herrera-Lim, a career diplomat as the new Philippine Consul General in Los Angeles with jurisdiction over Southern California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Prior to his posting in Chicago, Consul General Herrera-Lim has represented the Philippines in the United States as Second Secretary and Consul at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. from 1991 to 1998 and had frequent interaction with the World Bank Group, Intelsat, U.S. Department of State and U.S. Treasury and in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as First Secretary and Consul and later Minister and Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in London from 2000 to 2007 dealing with government, international organizations and the private sector.

Consul General De La Vega is delighted and welcomes warmly the assignment of Attorney Herrera-Lim to Los Angeles. She describes the incoming Consul General as a cool, humorous and witty person with strategic vision and leadership of great value and benefiting the Fil-Am community and the overall excellent ties between the U.S. and the Philippines.

He studied economics and law at the University of the Philippines.

In the Philippines, he previously served in the Department of Foreign Affairs in various capacities, such as Special Assistant in the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy (OUP) and in the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration (OUA), as Director of the U.S. Division of the Office of American Affairs, and Assistant Director of Treaties Division of the Office of Legal Affairs. He was with the Office of Senator Edgardo Angara and the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan.

He has extensive experience with foreign governments, international organization and financial institutions. He was intricately involved in the crafting and formulation of Government policies and positions on bilateral, multilateral and special issues. He was also a member of Philippine delegations to the United Nations (UN), Association of South East Nations (ASEAN) and treaty negotiations. He attended trainings, seminars and programs at the Foreign Service Institute in Manila, the United States, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Italy.

Consul General Herrera-Lim comes from Manila. He is married to Fidelis Cariño and is a father to Leonardo Ignatius and Frances Leanne.

TALAKAYAN SA FACLA DISCUSSED UKRAINE/CHINA-PH CRISIS, DELFIN LEE PAGIBIG SCAM

NEW FACLA NEWS
March 14, 2014

TALAKAYAN SA FACLA DISCUSSED UKRAINE/CHINA-PH CRISIS, DELFIN LEE PAGIBIG SCAM

Los Angeles– Spring is here and so the discussion at the Public Forum (Talakayan sa FACLA) was so heated, contending parties discussed the issue of the Ukraine-US Crisis with gusto.

Dr. Marc Caratao explained “that the Ukraine Crisis takes away US focus away from China and its aggressions in the Philippines. It’s the same situation in World War II when the US helped Europe first and let the japanese occupy the Philippines from 1941-1945.”

China-PH Conflict

Talakayan moderator, Ka. Larry Pelayo pointed out: “But the question is why we depend on others like the United States to defend our own country.We cannot do anything when the Chinese gunboats bombarded out fishermen with water.

We must be self-reliant and not defend on anyone for our own defense. But because our country and its leaders is so corrupt we can see that even our arms procurement program is tainted with graft and corruption”

Austin Baul said ,”that is the precisely because we cannot import arms from the US. The reason is there is no corruption in US arms sales and the price is high. So, the Philippines imports arms, jets and ships from Italy, Spain and other countries where there is kick-back” Drawing laughter from the audience.

The Ukraine Crisis, Russia vs EU-US

FACLA President Austin Baul also warned the audience on the Ukraine Crisis, ” We should not be taken away by American propaganda. We must understand history because of all the country Russia suffered from enemy invasion and threats of total annihilation.

Napoleon in 1800′s and Hitler during World War II threaten Russia with genocide.Now that the European Union (EU)and the United States are threatening the Russia. Russia has the right to defend itself.”

Dr, Orly Cagampan hit the double standard approach of the US,” they are threatening Russia with sanctions. But I asked who wiill suffer. it is Europe because its energy requirements (gas and natural gas) comes from Russia. They must resolve this diplomatically and not by war.”

Art Garcia of JFAV stressed the fact that: ” The US is offering $ 1 Billion dollar aid to Ukraine while they cannot pay the benefits of Filipino World War II veterans and their survivors for the last 68 years. It’s a case of double standards and blatant racism

Businessman Tommy Jones also pointed out, “The Philippine must resolve the issue with China bilaterally. We must not take the US line to spite China and take the case to UNCLOS because it is our nearest neighbor. Besides the Americans will not protect the Philippines against China because the US owes China so much debt.”

On the Delfin Lee Arrest and PAGIBIG Scam

Another businessman Freddie Castaneda commented on the arrest of Delfin Lee, ” that proves corruption is endemic in the Philippines. Kaya marami pa ring mahirap dahil marami paring corrupt.”

Atty Terry Herrera admonished the participants to join in the crusade agains the corruption and said the arrest of alleged PAGIBIG scammer Delfin Lee is a sign that the anti-corruption drive is not all lost and there is hope.

Art Garcia, another moderator said agreed with Herrera’s call. He said, “Senator Cayetano proposed reforms on the Sandiganbayan and the Obmbudsdman in the Senate . And the DOJ reported that the Prelimary Investigation phase is winding down. Charges will be filed soon.”

On which Atty Ben Basilio said, “It took almost six years before former President Estrada was convicted. But unfortunately GMA pardoned him and he did not stay in jail for more than one year. I hope this president (Aquino III) will not pardon them and will not happen again.” Basilio quipped.

Public Forum( Talakayan sa FACLA) is being held every Thursday at 10:000 in FACLA. Talakayan thanked the food sponsor, Mr. Tommy Jones, Dr, Marc Caratao and MOM’s BAKESHOP for the lunch.

For more information please call Clarita Julian at (213)484-1527 or email us at newfacla@yahoo.com or visit our website at www.newfacla.org

TAWID BAHA SCHOLARSHIP DRIVE KICK- OFF, March 30 at KAPISTAHAN GRILL

NEW FACLA NEWS
March 10, 2014

TAWID BAHA SCHOLARSHIP DRIVE KICK- OFF, March 30 at KAPISTAHAN GRILL

Los Angeles–After a successful TAWID-BAHA PROJECT FUND DRIVE last year, FACLA has launched its TAWID BAHA SCHOLARSHIP Fund Drive Kick-off on Sunday, March 30, 2014 from 11:00 AM at KAPISTAHAN GRILL at 1925 W. Temple St. Los Angeles, CA 90026.

Pilipino Town Inc (PTI) Mayor and TAWID BAHA PROJECT Coordinator Jerry Esguerra said, FACLA”s TAWID BAHA Project Champagne Brunch-Media Event and Forum will support and provide scholarships to deserving students to send them into college.

Selected scholars from different regions of the Philippines will be chosen by TAWID-BAHA PROJECT and will be supported by the funds.”according to Esguerra.

Invited Environmental Speakers

Invited speakers are Jollene Levid, National Chair of AF3IRM who just came from Leyte,Zamboanga and Cebu Fact Finding Trip and Dr. Marc Caratao, an environmentalist from Cebu. The event is also open for the media in Los Angeles.

Aside from supporting the fund drive to provide immediate relief to Thypoon HAIYAN (YOLANDA) victims in the Visayas and Mindanao, FACLA is looking towards a more strategic goal of providing deserving students scholarship that is more lasting.

The ALLIANCE-PHILLIPINES (AJLPP), ANSWER-LA,BANTAY-PILIPINAS-USA, Echo Park Community Coalition (EPCC), PHILTOWN Inc (PTI), Knights of Rizal-HFT support this fund drive.

For more information please contact Jerry Esguerra at (818)749-0272 or Clarita Julian at FACLA at (213)484-1527 or email us newfacla@yahoo.com or visit us www.newfacla.org.

*****

FACLA LAUNCHES SEARCH FOR MS. FACLA/MISS TEEN FACLA ON ITS 69TH ANNIVERSARY, APRIL 26, 2014

NEW FACLA NEWS
March 12, 2014

FACLA LAUNCHES SEARCH FOR MS. FACLA/MISS TEEN FACLA ON ITS 69TH ANNIVERSARY, APRIL 26, 2014

Los Angeles–The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles(FACLA) proudly announced that it launched the Search for Ms. FACLA /Ms. Teen FACLA Contest for its 69th Year Anniversary, April 26, 2014

The Search Committee for Ms. FACLA/Miss Teen FACLA, Chair Bernie Targa-Ganon also announced that her Committee is still accepting applications for candidates until the 1st canvassing on or before Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Candidates for Ms and Miss Teen FACLA, 2014

The Search Committee has laid out the following criteria for candidates:

1. Must be 25 years old or above ( for Ms. FACLA) and 13 years old or above for (Miss teen FACLA);
2. Must be of Filipino descent or at least 50% of Filipino blood;
3. Must possess good moral character and a member of FACLA;
4. Must be willing to represent as Ambassador of Goodwill to Community events like SantaCruzan, Philippine Independence Day and other occasions upon the request of FACLA and
5. Must be willing to support ongoing projects of FACLA especially in enhancing solidarity among Filipinos in California.

The candidates for MS. FACLA at present are Monet Marual, Precy Montero, Donna Canarez, Emitte Underwood and Cora Miller.

Meanwhile candidates for Miss. Teen FACLa are Caroline Jimenez, Jazmine Morada and Mary Banawa.

They were presented in a press conference to the media and the the public last Saturday, March 01, 2014 at FACLA.

Canvassing Dates

There will three canvassing dates for the candidates votes on March 29, 2014 from 2 to 5;00 PM; April 20, 2014 from 2 to 5;00 PM and the final canvassing on April 26 at the FACLA’s 69th Anniversary on the night of April 26, 2014.

There will a dance party at the coronation and final canvassing. Buddy Reyes and his Band will play the music for the 69th FACLA Anniversary. They will be crowned by the outgoing Ms.FACLA and Ms. Teen FACLA 2013.

Applications are still available at the FACLA office or please contact Bernie Targa-Ganon or Clarita Julian.

For more information pleace contact or call us at (213)484-1527 oe email us at newfacla@yahoo.com or visit our website atwww.newfacla.org

My Dad Fought in Bataan But was Never Recognized

JFAV UPDATES
March 10, 2014

My Dad Fought in Bataan But was Never Recognized

By Romana Figueroa-Gella

MANILA, Philippines—It was with justifiable sadness that I read in the Inquirer the proud announcement by American ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. that “Pinoy vets got $214 million from the US last year,” in reference to the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Program.

My father, who passed away on June 16, 2010, at age 103, had the misfortune of being excluded from the “… more than 18,500 World War II veterans … who received a total of $214.4 million in benefits … from the United States’ Department of Veterans Affairs …” due to what I believe was a mere technicality.

Reason for denial

The official reason for the denial given by the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) based in St. Louis, Missouri, was that it “found no evidence” that my father served in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, including the recognized guerrillas, “in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States.”

That he was recognized as a war veteran by the Philippine government did not seem to count.
After this rejection, my father made a subsequent request for assistance in accessing his files, but the
NPRC wrote back that the information he requested “… was lost in the July 1973 fire that destroyed millions of records at the (NPRC).”

Since my father was already bedridden and ailing on June 15, 2010, I filed on his behalf a notice of disagreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs and enclosed additional supporting papers for his claim. The claim was again denied on December 21, 2010, as a result of my father’s death.

Losing war again

For my father and for the thousands of hapless defenders of Bataan, the denial of their claims was like fighting another war and losing again.

I remembered how, as my father was getting dressed at 4 a.m. on the day of his required personal appearance at Camp Aguinaldo, he turned to me and in all seriousness asked, “Will they laugh at me?”

I thought, what a strange question! Then I recalled his story about being ridiculed while in captivity by Japanese soldiers who were in a drunken stupor. Those dreaded war memories lodged in his subconscious have a way of flashing back when the right trigger is pulled, in this case, being “ordered” to report to a military camp.

When we got to Camp Aguinaldo, however, we were turned away because they had “ran out of numbers to give out.” We were instructed to proceed instead to the US Embassy. On reaching Roxas Boulevard, we were confronted by the pitiful sight of a queue that snaked from the far end of the Manila Bay breakwaters to the gates of the embassy. Lining up patiently were confused, white-haired and bent old men, most of them in wheelchairs, with a few determinedly standing or leaning on the shoulders of their companion.

Heart-rending scene

On our second day at the US Embassy, I watched a veteran, probably in his 80s, as he struggled with the help of a relative to step down from the sidewalk to the street. He was clutching a plastic pail. Given his age, it was not hard to surmise what the pail was for.

At their age and with all their unimaginable infirmities, it would definitely take these octogenarians, nonagenarians and centenarians forever to negotiate the distance from their place in the line to the closest lavatory. To this day, this heart-rending scene keeps playing back in my head.

The arduous Bataan Death March scarred my father for life and to his dying day, its horrible memories hounded and haunted him. Malaria, which he contracted in the concentration camps, and an enlarged liver brought about by poor nutrition and the lack of potable water, did irreparable damage to his body. Psychological injuries, meanwhile, battered down his spirit.

Daily ration of ‘kangkong’

As prisoners of war (POWs), my father recounted how they subsisted on a daily ration of kangkong (swamp cabbage) leaves and a thin slice of beef swimming by its lonesome in a cauldron of what looked like pig swill. This was on a good day when their captors were feeling “benevolent.” The POWs were also made to dig with their bare hands trenches for the five to seven corpses a day, under the scorching heat of the sun or in drenching rain. Some had to run and catch a cow for the officers’ meal.

The long march from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac, rendered the prisoners exhausted beyond human endurance. So as night fell, they lay down to sleep wherever darkness caught up with them. There were times when they woke next to a dead comrade. But there were also times when the Japanese guards were not looking, that a handful of them managed to break away from the group, running to the bushes or taking refuge in houses of Filipino sympathizers before eventually escaping to freedom.

Unfortunately, others were not as lucky and were shot on sight. My father chose to stick it out to the end, not knowing what fate awaited him.

No sanitary facilities

Since my father was a medic in the Air Corps, he was made to attend to dysentery patients with no sanitary facilities. One time, he ministered to a fellow soldier who was so sick that he practically swam in his own feces. The monstrous health problems brought about by improvised and hastily dug latrines that were left open and which served as breeding ground for flies, were compounded by the utter lack of a decent water supply.

In our family’s genealogical tree record aptly entitled Arbol, my father proudly wrote: “I wish to be remembered as somebody who has contributed his bit to the defense of the Fatherland, being a member of the USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East) of the Second World War.”

Sadly, my father died without him being remembered as such.

Pittance for unsung heroes

It has been said that of all the virtues, gratitude has the shortest memory. If one may ask, who owes a debt of gratitude to whom in the battle waged against the enemies of freedom? Is there a price tag on gratitude? I

Indeed, what is the $9,000 for, this sum being promised to every Filipino war veteran? Isn’t it a pittance of a recompense for all the cruelties that these unsung heroes suffered?

Today, as we revisit the memories of World War II and recall once more the denial of claims for benefits among Filipino war veterans, we sadly realize that as in the Death March, these soldiers have lost another battle.

It is a battle for what was justly and rightfully theirs, a battle fought with absolute determination for what seemed like an eternity. It is a battle of attrition that, sadly, was lost not in the battlefield but in the confines of air-conditioned rooms and through the callousness of bureaucratic rigmarole.

My father, the late Maj. Ramon Guerrero Figueroa, was a bona fide veteran of the infamous Bataan Death March, and an enlisted Captain of the 54th Infantry Regiment, 5th Military District, under the command of Lt. Col. L.P. Lapuz.

( The 54th Rgmt fought bracely in Bataan and held on for four months before the American generals surrendered to the Japanese.

But still they are not recognized as America’s Veterans. What a shame to America! -Underscoring ours )

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