American Legion post named after Pinay WWII hero Magdalena Leones

SAN FRANCISCO — These students are learning kombatan — a Filipino martial arts system taught by grandmaster, Alexander Bautista Bayot France.

Kombatan is a blend of styles that focuses on hand-to-hand combat and stick fighting.

“Whenever someone attacked, I have to go into not just defense, but offense at the same time. That’s the one thing I wanted. I wanted to be able to end any hand-to-hand combat in the most efficient way possible.”

This event was organized by the Magdalena Leones American Legion Post 510.

The American Legion is the US’ largest veterans service organization, which has posts in cities all throughout the nation.

In the Bay Area, Post 510 has been renamed in honor of the first Filipina to be awarded the Silver Star for heroism during WWII.

“We took it over when we found out that Magdalena Leones was also a hero from the Philippines who was a super spy, a guerilla, and a nurse. And she was also a POW for six months at,” said Ray Cordoba.

Officers of Post 510 continue to honor Leones by spreading Filipino culture through kombatan martial arts, and finding and honoring remaining Filipino World War II veterans with the congressional gold medal.

“We’ve given up maybe 55 to 60 congressional gold medals to living survivors, and also next to kin to give honor and acknowledgement to those folks who fought.”

Meanwhile, organizers also said they have been happy to see more younger Filipinos and their families at their event.

“We thought well, why not learn about the culture, too. So to bring the culture and the martial arts together was really probably the main reason we really stuck with it.”

Post 510 holds these events every third Sunday of the month and they are open to veterans and their families to learn more about Filipino culture.

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