Congressional Gold Medal for WWII Filipino Veterans Gets a Boost in Texas

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Students attending “Isang Mahal” (One Love) take a moment to support the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino Veterans.

 

HOUSTON, TX (Nov. 17, 2015) – Filipino American National Historical Society – Houston Chapter (FANHS-HTX) and National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) have joined forces to support the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVETRep).

 

On a rainy weekend on October 24, 2015, Patlindsay Catalla, Deputy of FANHS-HTX, Anthony Guevarra – NaFFAA Regional Rep and Christy Panis Poisot, FilVETRep Board member set out to engage with 400+ students in College Station for the Annual Isang Mahal (one love) Talent Show and to celebrate Filipino American History Month. The show is hosted by the Philippine Student Association (PhilSA) of Texas A&M University and brings together all Filipino Student Associations across Texas.

 

One hundred and fifty letters to Congressman and Texas Senators were signed. Photos and videos captured the event and were shared on social media – all pleading one message to Texas leaders, “Pass the Congressional Gold Medal now!

Southern Intercollegiate Filipino Alliance (SIFA) President Miko Jao observed, “it was the most successful collaboration with an organization outside of SIFA. There were positive remarks and everyone enjoyed the (FilVETRep) booth.” Following the event, University of Texas Filipino Student Association (UT-FSA) Vice President of Culture, Kelsey Banaglorioso, continued efforts at Filipino Heritage Night in Austin by doing a read out on veteran contributions and soliciting one hundred signatures to petition Texas Congressman to support the Congressional Gold Medal bill. “It’s amazing to see how many people care about the Filipino soldiers that fought for this country,” said Banaglorioso. “I take pride as a Filipino, but also as an American.”

 

Filipino American History month concluded with a TV appearance by Poisot and Guevarra on Channel 13 “Visions” with Miya Shay. The two paired up to recap efforts to support the Congressional Gold Medal in Texas.

To date, only two Congressional Representatives support the Congressional Gold Medal Bill from Texas: Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee representing the Houston area.  No Texas Senators have shown support for the bill to date. A majority of Congress must show support by the end of the Obama administration or the bill will need to be re-introduced in the next administration.

 

There were an estimated 200,000 Filipino soldiers who fought in WWII. Only 16,000 to 17,000 soldiers remain in the US and the Philippines and their death toll is growing. According to the Census 2010, there were 137,713 Filipino Americans and Multiracial Filipino Americans in Texas. In 2011, five percent (86,400) of all Filipino immigrants in the United States lived in Texas.

 

The initiative behind the recognition of Filipino and Filipino-American World War II veterans is the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), a nonpartisan, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to raise awareness through academic research and public information and obtain national recognition of Filipino and Filipino-American WWII Soldiers across the United States and Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 1941 to December 1946.

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