Casimiro Urbano Tolentino
At the beginning of WWII, the Philippines was under U.S. control. The Commonwealth Army of the Philippines and U.S. Armed Forces in the Philippines were merged, forming the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) to fight the Japanese invasion in the Far East under the command of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. Manong Peping became a soldier in the USAFFE. He fought valiantly under the American flag, alongside American soldiers. After WWII, the passage of the Rescission Act of 1946 had denied Filipino soldiers the veterans’ benefits they had been promised. Manong Peping considered this as a grave case of injustice and lack of equity. The only difference he saw between the American soldiers he fought and sat beside with was the color of his skin. He decided to seek justice – to fight for what had been promised. After fighting for decades Filipino veterans finally won recognition. In 2008 the U.S. Senate passed S.1315 that awarded pension benefits to Filipino veterans. Manong Peping fought and won, and brought honor and dignity to Filipino Americans.
Source of poster: Fighting Filipinos
The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to Filipino and Filipino American WWII Veterans during a ceremony at the Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on October 25, 2017, and was attended by some Filipino veterans, families of surviving and deceased veterans, and members of U.S. Congress. The gold medal is permanently displayed at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History along with the names of veterans on The Filipino Veterans Education and Recognition Project’s registry. Since then, over 1,000 bronze replicas of the gold medal have been awarded to surviving Filipino veterans and the families of deceased veterans.
The first anniversary of this historic day was celebrated at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. on October 24, 2018 with a ceremony awarding the families of nine Filipino WWII veterans with the bronze replicas of the gold medal. In celebrating this recognition, we must also recognize that this honor is the result of decades of organizing and advocacy by veterans, such as Manong Faustino “Peping” Baclig, and their families to recognize the key role of Filipino veterans during World War II and their fight for equal benefits.
You can watch a video of the 2017 ceremony here: https://youtu.be/AL89Yv_JhyU
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