College students remember the Bataan Death March, Filipino involvement in WWII

SAN FRANCISCO — These students of California State University, Chico’s Filipino American Student Organization made the drive to USF for the fourth conference on World War II in the Philippines.

“Just being exposed to our culture, learning about the legacy and the history of the Bataan legacy throughout WWII would appreciate all to the new generations,” said student Lewis Lamugdang.

For many of these young students — Filipino involvement in the war, especially the Bataan Death March, was new to them.

“I feel that, even though the Holocaust was a really important part of WWII history, I feel it overshadows the rest of what happened in WWII, especially the war in the Pacific. That’s a huge part that isn’t covered as much.”

Cecilia Gaerlan’s advocacy to remember the Filipino and American soldiers in the Bataan Death March has led to the CA Department of Education approving the implementation of Filipino involvement into school curriculum across the country.

She says that California will help lead the way in educating all US students about the sacrifices of Filipinos in WWII.

“Because California is one of the two largest consumers of textbooks, the major publishers are obligated to include any changes made into the framework for these two states and these books are distributed nationally.”

This is the second time the conference was hosted at USF — and the members of the school’s Filipino student organization, Kasamahan, say they are proud to know students will learn about Filipinos in WWII prior to getting to the college level.

“The fact that Filipino-Americans or Filipinos have the opportunity to believe that this is our culture. It’s not just the Philippine culture, but American culture, so they can accept that this shaped our lives and shaped everyone’s lives around us,” said Mark Gravador.

School districts across the Bay Area have already begun to implement the involvement of Filipinos in WWII into their curriculum — while others districts still creating the framework.

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