(hosted by Dr. Vivian Dames with production assistance of Alan
Grossman) was recorded 8/13/14 at the Agana Shopping Center and aired 10/25/14.
This episode features coverage of the Guam Humanities Council
(GHC) panel presentation by Mariles Benavente, Roy Adonay and Capt. Kristen
Ramos entitled ‘Honoring Filipino Veterans.” This tribute was held August 13,
2014 at the Agana Shopping Center and was part of the GHC-Smithsonian national
exhibit “Journey Stories” and the local companion exhibit, “Sindålu:
Chamorro Journeys in the U.S. Military which explores the many significant
and often unrecognized journeys of Chamorro men and women who currently or have
served in the U.S. military [see Ep. 194 (7/11/14) for coverage of the opening
of this exhibit and walking tour lecture ]. The August 13th
event expands and builds upon the Sindålu exhibit by highlighting the
narratives and contributions of several local Filipino veterans and service
members. Comprising nearly one third of the island population, the Filipino
community of Guam includes a large number of veterans and service members in
all branches of the U.S. military.
During World War II, some 250,000
to 400,000 Filipinos served in the U.S. military in units including the
Philippine Scouts, the Philippine Commonwealth Army under U.S. Command (known
as the US Army Forces of the Far East, or USAFFE), and recognized guerrillas
during the Japanese Occupation. As of January 2013, ten thousand
surviving Filipino American veterans of WWII lived in the United States and an
estimated fourteen to eighteen thousand surviving veterans are in the
Philippines. The US Government promised these Filipino veterans all the
benefits afforded to other veterans. However, in 1946 the U.S. Congress passed
the Rescission Act of 1946 which stripped these veterans of the promised
benefits. For decades these Filipino veterans, their survivors and supporters
have protested this discriminatory treatment and fought for the reinstatement
of these benefits with some success, but often too little and too late.
We begin this episode with commentary (recorded 10/29/14) from
Dr. Donald Platt, a professor of history at the University of Guam where he has
taught History of the Philippines for 26 years. He also teaches Recent US
MilItary History which is a required course for all students in the ROTC
program. He provides an historical perspective on this particular chapter
of service of Filipinos in the U.S. military during WWII and the ongoing
struggle for recognition, compensation and equity in benefits for these
In 2008, after nearly 50 years of controversy, the U.S. Congress
finally decided to grant the
‘pensions’ promised to the ‘irregular’ soldiers who fought the
Japanese in the Philippines during WWII and their widows. Mariles
Benavente, one of the nine children of the late Honorable Ramon V. Diaz, a
retired Superior Court Judge and Catholic Deacon, provides a little known
account of her father who was an attorney and member of the Philippines
Commonwealth Army inducted into the USAFFE in 1941. Judge Diaz was a
survivor of the Bataan Death March which followed the formal surrender to the
Japanese of some 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers in April 1942.
Diaz emigrated to Guam in 1951 and was the first Filipino appointed to the
Superior Court of Guam. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 93, six months
after he was notified that his application for compensation as a USAFFE
veteran, for which Mariles tirelessly advocated on his behalf, was finally
approved. Compensation to many other USAFFE and Philippine Scouts veterans and
their survivors have been denied or are still pending.
In her remarks, Benavente references the book, by General
Rigoberto J. Atienza (1985). A Time For War:105 Days in Bataan (published
by his wife Eugenia S. vda. de Atienza). This rare book was given to her by a
friend of her father, also a survivor of the Bataan Death March, the late
Antonio Dimalanta, Mr. Dimalanta was a Philippines Scout veteran and the
first president of the Filipino Community of Guam, a non-profit umbrella
organization for all Filipino organizations, established in 1955.
Roy Adonay is the current president of the Filipino Community of
Guam. Born in the Philippines and raised on Guam, Adonay is the son of US Navy
veteran, Anthony Adonay, and the father of a US Marine, Marlon Roldan.
Roy is also a former service member who served in the USAF for four years
assigned to AAFB-Guam. In his presentation, Adonay places the
participation of Filipinos in the U.S. military within the context of the
history of Filipino migration to Guam. He also reflects on the parental
dilemma of, on the one hand, wanting to affirm his son’s independence and
decision to enlist and, on the other hand, being fearful for his son’s safety
and the possibility of death and loss.
In January 2013, U.S.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta removed the military’s ban on women
serving in combat zones. Although implementation of these rules is still
ongoing, women are now accepting such leadership opportunities. Capt.
Kristen Ramos, a second generation Filipino-American, became
the first-ever female company commander in the Guam Army National Guard
deployed to a combat zone. She assumed command of Foxtrot Company during
deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This
unit was part of the largest mobilization in Guam history with over 600 Guam
Army Guardsmen deployed. A product of the local Catholic school systems, she
holds a B.A. Sociology from the University of Washington. In civilian
life, she works full-time as the Human Resources Manager at the Outrigger Hotel-Guam.
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