SAN ANTONIO — More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers served alongside U.S. soldiers in World War II.
At the end of the war, President Harry Truman signed laws that stripped away promises of benefits and citizenship for Filipino veterans.
Only recently have the veterans won back some concessions and acknowledgment, belatedly receiving congressional gold medals, the nation’s highest civilian award.
The honoring of Filipino war veterans by the U.S. government continues in San Antonio, TX, with the awarding of the congressional gold medal going to the largest contingent of veteran honorees in the state so far.
SOT1: Oscar Bautista Hilman, Brigadier General
“Filipinos in America deserve the award. They have not received any awards in the past 75 years,” said Oscar Bautista Hilman, Brigadier General.
“Proud na proud dahil sa matagal na panahonm,” said Manuel Bautista, WWI Veteran Medal Recipient. “Parang na sa langit na ako sa kasiyahan at na honor nila ang aming serbisyo under the US Army.”
The Filipino Scouts Heritage society hosted the event. Honoring 46 veterans and their next-of-kin during the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony.
Tears of joy, memories of loved ones lost were shared, as well as stories of heroism and the immense courage and dedication to duty amidst the cruelty of war.
Sofia Tidon made the journey from Los Banos, Laguna to receive the award. Sofia shared with us her horrific story.
“It’s very hearting, habang ako ay gumaganap na guerilla ay nahuli ako ng mga hapon. Ibinitin ako na patiwarik. Ang ulo ko ay nakalubog sa tubig, feet up, nilubog ako, at pag-hinila, hinahampas ako ng lubid. HInihingi sa akin ang mga pangalan ng mga guerillas, hindi ko binigay, sabi ko, pag binigay ko, maraming mamatay, so sinolo ko, sabi ko kung ako ang patayin nila at least ako lang ang mamatay.”
An estimated 16,000 to 17,000 Filipino World War II veterans are still alive today. And while they continue to fight for full veteran benefits such as lifetime monthly pensions, they feel victorious with this government recognition.
“My dream is to be recognized as a bonified veteran, and that happened today!”