2002                                                                2001               


The Sight of the Philippine American Friendship Celebration

Philippine-American Veteran Organization- Read Guerilla Story of Escolastico Valerio


House of Representatives VA Subcommittee on Health

  June 13, 2002 Washington DC

  Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

  My name is Lou Diamond Phillips, an American
  citizen of Filipino descent. I am proud to say
  that I come from a family on both sides who have
  performed military duty in the service of this
  country. I have five Filipino uncles who have
  proudly served in the U.S. Navy; two of whom went
  on to become staff members of the White House
  under President Nixon.

  Both my father and   stepfather were also sailors in the Navy; my
  stepfather, George Phillips, having served two
  tours of duty in Vietnam. My father was so proud
  of his military affiliation that he named me after
  a war hero of the Second World War, Gunnery
  Sergeant Lew Diamond, a Marine legend in the
  Pacific Theatre.

  I stood proudly beside my mother, Lucita, as her
  witness when she took her oath of citizenship to
  become an American. Like many immigrants who
  choose to become citizens of this country, my
  mother and the remainder of her Filipino family
  have become proud and contributing members of the
  American society, eagerly embracing the
  opportunities that this great country has provided
  their families. They have watched their children,
  first generation Americans, as they became
  doctors, lawyers and teachers.

  I, myself, realize that my career in
  the film industry would probably
  not have been possible anywhere else in the world
  and, for that, I am eternally grateful. I truly
  believe in America as a shining light, as the
  symbol in the world for democracy and freedom. It
  is for these reasons, and many more, that, today,
  I consider it not only my privilege but my duty to
  speak for the 'Filipino Veterans of World War II.

  As many of you know, President Franklin Roosevelt
  drafted the Commonwealth Army Soldiers of the
  Philippines who were United States Nationals into
  American Military Service on July 26, 1941. Many
  of these soldiers were still teenagers. Yet, they
  bravely answered the call to battle, fighting side
  by side with their American allies. Farm boys from
  different parts of the world became fast friends
  and comrades; brothers in arms. Many thousands
  paid the ultimate price.

  For those Filipino  soldiers who survived the horrific battles and the
  ghastly conditions of the infamous prisoner of war
  camps, the promise was made by the American
  government that they would be considered United
  States Veterans with "active service" by the
  Veterans Administration and, therefore, be
  entitled to all of the benefits that that  designation entailed.

  However, a scant five years later, after victory
  in the Pacific was assured, these guarantees were
  rescinded by the U.S. government on February 18,
  1946, when it enacted the "Rescission Act" (public
  law 79-301 now U.S. code sec. 101, title 38).
  Effectively, this action seemed to deny the
  involvement of the Filipino soldiers in the war
  effort and, certainly, was a poor repayment for
  the loyalty shown by the Filipino people.

  In fact, many war historians and
  American Veterans of the
  Pacific Theatre have noted that, if not for the
  contributions of the Commonwealth Army Soldiers,
  the Filipino guerillas and the scouts and even the
  Filipino citizens who served as spies and couriers
  for U.S. Intelligence, the tide of the war, which
  at the time of conscription was in a desperate
  state, may not have turned toward an American
  victory. The brave contributions of the men and
  women of the Philippines cannot be quantified and
  certainly should not be diminished.

  In the sixty years since official U.S. recognition
  of the Filipino Veterans was withdrawn, a few
  positive steps have been made in reparation. In
  1990, 26,000 Filipino Veterans were naturalized as
  U.S. citizens under the 1990 Immigration and
  Naturalization Act because of their U.S. military
  service. Additionally, under public law, PL
  106-419, they may be buried in VA National
  Cemeteries as U.S. Veterans. However, while they
  live, they are denied eligibility to be patients
  in the VA Hospitals.

  Many of these men are well
  into their eighties and beyond. They are now
  certainly in need of the kind of medical attention
  that the VA benefits would provide. But, perhaps,
  even more importantly, they desire as their last
  wish the recognition that they so richly deserve
  for the sacrifices that they made in the fight for
  freedom and democracy.

  I know a little something about the Filipino
  culture. We are a proud people. It is my
  observation that many Filipinos would rather have
  the respect of their families and their
  communities than have material gain. Since 1990,
  an estimated 12,000 Filipino Veterans have died
  waiting for recognition for the single greatest
  achievement of their lives.

  We are now losing  these brave men, once young and passionate
  fighters, now infirmed and without a strong voice
  of their own, at the alarming rate of up to five
  men a day. Time continues to run out for the ones
  who remain, and a posthumous award in the form of
  a military burial can only be considered the next
  best thing.

  Let us celebrate these men while they still live.
  It is important to note that U.S. recognition of
  these veterans would not just be a token gesture.
  There are presently an estimated 13,849 Filipino
  Veterans who reside in the United States and
  another 46,050 who live in the Philippines. That
  is nearly 60,000 families that will be impacted by
  your decision. Nearly 60,000 men whose wives and
  children and grandchildren will know, without
  qualification, that their husbands and fathers
  were heroes.

  Additionally, and certainly not unimportantly,
  with the passage of these bills before you, these
  men and women in the twilight of their lives will
  become eligible to receive Veteran's benefits from
  the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. Benefits
  such as VA Health Care at VA hospitals, out
  patient clinics and nursing homes in the U.S.,
  including a clinic in Manila and a monthly
  permanent disability pension if they are poor and

  I hasten to remind you that these
  benefits are not new prizes to be awarded, but
  guarantees that need to be re-instated after our
  government promised and then rescinded this status
  after services had been rendered in good faith.

  Today, we can right a wrong and pay respect where
  it is long overdue. Please join your colleagues in
  the speedy passage of these bills; S. 1042 was
  introduced by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) a WWll
  veteran and co-sponsored by nine Senators: Akaka
  (D-Hawaii), Allen (R-Virginia), Boxer
  (D-California), Feinstein (D-California), Clinton
  (D-New York), Sarbanes (D-Maryland), Miller
  (D-Georgia), Durbin (D-Illinois) and Murray
  (D-Washington). H.R. 491 was introduced by Rep.
  Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), another WWll Veteran, and
  Rep. Bob Filner (D-California) and has 49
  co-sponsors in the House. H.R. 4904 was introduced
  by Rep. Bob Filner and co-sponsored by Moran
  (R-Kansas), Evans (D-Illinois), Gilman (R-New
  York), Scott (D-Virginia), Cunningham
  (R-California), Pelosi (D-California), Rohrabacher
  (R-California), Mink (D-Hawaii),
  Millender-McDonald (D-California), Lofgren
  (D-California), and Underwood (D-Guam).

  In closing, I am reminded of the words of General
  Douglas McArthur when he said to the Filipino
  people and to his American troops hopelessly
  entrenched in the islands, "I shall return." It is
  my belief that he didn't mean that he would return


June is the Filipino-American month when the Filipino-American celebrates the Friendship Day and Rizal Day.


The Ladies of Rizal and Knights of Rizal celebrated the Philippine national hero last June 23 in Rizal Plaza at Columbus Drive, Jersey City.

Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham announced that the city will help in the construction of Rizal park where the monument was built.


Sir Armando Porto of the Knights of Rizal said, “We are celebrating the 141th birthday of Dr. Jose Rizal.  It is important to remember him in our minds and spirits because he made us free from the Spanish colonization.”


Sir Jose Red, commander of the Knights of Rizal, New Jersey Chapter, said, “His love for  country was noteworthy. He fought for the cause of the poor and the underprivileged. He represents the ideals of a true Filipino.” (from the Filipino Express. July 1, 2002)


The Anglo-American Experience of Rizal-1888