remember bataan

On Monday, April 9, candlelight vigils will take place in several areas across the country, including Washington DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and cities throughout California, to pay tribute to the soldiers who endured the infamous Bataan Death March, one of the most atrocious events during World War II. The vigils, hosted by Student Action for Veterans Equity (SAVE), will mark the 65th anniversary of the March, honoring the soldiers who lost their lives, as well as those who survived, many of whom are still waiting for their recognition and justice. Here's an excerpt from a press release I received:

Mr. Luciano Dimaano, a Filipino World War II veteran who escaped the Bataan Death March recalls "bombs were dropping on the shores of our frontlines. Boats were landing and the Japanese soldiers were coming ashore firing at us. There were so many of them like ants. We were out numbered." After a somber retreat, Mr. Dimaano was ordered to Bataan. Despite courageous efforts by U.S. forces, Bataan fell on April 9, 1942. Mr. Dimaano explains solemnly that "It was the loneliest days of my life." U.S. forces, including hundreds of Filipino soldiers were forced to surrender and suffer from this harrowing experience: leaving them to go without food or supplies, having to suffer without medicine for the wounded and sick soldiers, stumbling from utter exhaustion, and watching comrades be killed by the Japanese.

Fortunately, Mr. Dimaano was able to escape the Bataan Death March but suffered from malaria and dysentery for eight months. Despite, his suffering and courageous war efforts, he still waits for equity and recognition. "We Filipinos have the longest fight…until now we are fighting. Why do we veterans have to suffer? I urge Congress and the President to give us your blessing before we close our eyes forever."

On July 26, 1941, approximately 250,000 Filipino soldiers were inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) by military order of President Roosevelt during World War II. The subsequent enactment of the 1946 Rescission Act unjustly stripped these brave soldiers of their veterans' status and instantly deemed their service as "inactive." Today, only 20,000 of these soldiers remain still waiting for their recognition and equity.

It is important that Congress recognizes the ramifications of the Rescission Act and the promises made to the Filipino WWII Veterans. "Majority of these veterans live in poverty: residing in substandard housing and struggling to survive on the little Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that they received monthly which primarily goes to basic necessities such as medication. The Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007 will restore the benefits initially promised to them," explains Ms. Angelica Cabande, an active member of SAVE and a community advocate.
The Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2007, H.R. 760 and S. 57, was introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate in the early part of the 110th Congress. These equity bills are intended to correct this long-endured injustice by amending Title 38 and restoring their status as veterans. It's been a really long fight. The Chair of the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee, Daniel Akaka, has called for a hearing on this issue scheduled for Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 10:00am. Monday's candlelight vigils will hopefully increase national support and to raise community awareness to remind legislators that concerned citizens care and will fight for this issue. Here's a list of all the planned vigil sites across the country:
East Coast:

Bataan Death March Memorial/Rizal Monument in Cherry Hill, NJ
6:30 pm, Cooper River Park
Contact Senn Fontanilla at fontanilla@saftravel.com

Philippine Cultural Center in Virginia Beach, VA
7:00 pm, 4857 Baxter Road
Contact Louie Sawi at louie.sawi@gmail.com

The University of Pittsburg in Pittsburg, PA
7:30 pm, William Pitt Union Patio & Lawn
Contact Marissa Angeles at angelesm+@pitt.edu

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA
8:00 pm, Rotunda Steps
Contact Maynard Malixi at malixi@virginia.edu

Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA
7:00 pm, University Student Commons Plaza
Contact Kat Francia at kdfrancia@vcu.edu

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA
8:00 pm, War Memorial Pylons
Contact Clarissa Fernandez at onekiss@vt.edu

World War II Memorial in Washington, DC
7:00 pm, 17th Street, between Constitution & Independence Avenues, NW
Contact Victor Zapanta at vdzapanta@gmail.com


Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH
10:00 pm, Wilder Bowl
Contact Jenny Lares at jenny.c.lares@gmail.com

West Coast:

California State University of Sacramento in Sacramento, CA
6:00 pm, Serna Plaza
Contact Eden Joy Jimenez at beatzsofresh@yahoo.com

City Hall in San Francisco, CA
5:30 pm, Front Steps
Contact Angelica Cabande at awake3eye@yahoo.com

San Jose State University in San Jose, CA
5:00 pm, Student Union Amphitheatre
Contact Ann Reginio at kpsie.areginio@gmail.com

Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA
8:00pm, the Oval
Contact Hialy Riviera Guiterrez at hialy07@standford.edu

The University of California, Davis in Davis, CA
7:00 pm, Memorial Union Patio
Contact Josh Santeramo at jmsanteramo@ucdavis.edu
Please consider joining in on one of the vigils near you, and support this important cause. Here's a recent story on the plight of Filipino veterans and the long fight for their due rights: Filipinos who fought for U.S. don't get benefits. For more information about Student Action for Veterans Equity, contact Angelica Cabande at awake3eye@yahoo.com.

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