Recognizing the contributions of Filipino WWII veterans
As Filipino WWII veterans, along with their families and advocates, await the official awarding ceremony of the Congressional Gold medal — the fight to implement their contributions in US textbooks continues.
On a Saturday at the University of San Francisco, the room is full.
Folks here gathered for the third annual conference on WWII in the Philippines.
For these young Fil-Am USF students, the lectures and presentations became a personal lesson in self-identity.
“History that isn’t taught in textbooks, that isn’t discussed is also our family’s’ history, it’s my great grandpa’s history, it’s some of our members so it touches home,” said Jazlynn Eugenio Pastor of USF Kasamahan.
“This would have been great knowledge to know as a growing Filipino-American since I don’t see myself in the textbooks. I don’t see myself in history that I learned year after year,” said Nicole-Jocelyn Sanchez.
The contributions of the veterans are currently being carefully vetted by scholars and veteran advocates, before they are added to the textbooks and implemented in classrooms.
However, according to executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, Ceciliaa Gaerlan, the process will take some time.
“It takes a long time to do this. It’ll probably take 3-5 years to get this done in California, yes. But simultaneously we need to start working on a national level.”
Gaerlan says that some schools in the Bay Area are already starting to teach the contributions of the Filipino WWII vets.
Retired US Army major general and chairman of the Filipino veterans recognition and education Project — Antonio Taguba — said he met with speaker Paul Ryan last week and was given an update on the upcoming congressional gold medal awarding ceremony.
“He told us that it would be sometime between the week of October 23rd and October 27th,” he said. “We need to generate a lot of national hype, you might say, because this will be the one and only ceremony our aging veterans will be able to attend.”
That hype, Gaerland adds, should target school board members and elected officials, to ensure that when the curriculum is approved, schools will effectively implement the contributions of the Filipino WWII vets.