LOS ANGELES — Christmas carols and parols are in full swing in historic Filipinotown, and as the community celebrates the season, the presents came early for 94-year-old Franco Arcebal, a prisoner of war who escaped execution during WWII.
“Very tough job and I’m just glad I survived the sentence,” said Arcebal. “The Japanese would’ve cut my head at 6 o’clock in the morning.”
Not wanting to wait for the congressional gold medal of honor replica, Justice for Filipino American Veterans has decided to give them their own gold medal.
“It’s coming from the heart at tsaka kailan tayo maghihintay mamatay na yung atin veterans, 90 years old and above na sila,” said Ludivina Gilikson, a community leader.
While JFAV is welcoming the congressional gold medal, they’ve criticized it as a civilian award that needs to be paid for, and is not available to widows and children.
They’ve made sure that this version fills in those gaps.
“It’s not a recognition of the military service of the veterans, but here the medal specifically says we recognize their military service,” said Arturo Garcia.
The US Congress medals are now being given out, as Filipino communities have helped raise money to pay for the medals — Another chance for Mr. Arcebal and his comrades to collect more treasures for their service.