As of Friday, April 27, 2018
WAPATO Rey Pascua, long-time president of the Yakima Valley Filipino American community, has been so engrossed in the work that led to Filipino World War II recognition tomorrow, Saturday, April 28, that he forgot to name is own three uncles among those being honored.
The Congressional Gold Medal replica ceremony, led by a military entourage, will take place at noon at the Filipino Community Center.
Filipino men and others from here who served in the Philippines are elegible for the replica medals.
After Congress passed a law in 2015 to recognize the Filipino contribution to the victory, a Congressional Gold was cast as part of the recognition. It was placed at the Smithsonian.
“That gold medal cost $35,000,” Pascua said. “We couldn’t afford one for every person eligible. They’ll be receiving a bronze replica that cost $75.”
The medals are for anyone who fought in the Philippines, Pascua said. Three white American soldiers from this area will be honored with medals. One was Douglas Campbell, a U.S. Marine who died in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Another was Lt. Colonel Paul Marshal, who suffered and survived part of the Bataan Death March. He escaped from captivity, found Filipino guerilla forces and fought with and led them to the end of the war.
The third non-Filipino scheduled to receive a medal is Arthur Anderson, Pascua’s own father-in-law.
A seaman first class, he was part of crew of coast guardsmen who took the Navy’s USS Admiral Elerbe in May, 1944 to three ports in the Philippines to deliver supplies.
It returned with 2,000 rescued prisoners of war.
All together, 21 area men will receive medals Saturday, nearly all posthumously.
However, when Pascua sent his list to The Daily Sun earlier this week, he did not include his uncles — Ambrocio Pascua, Teodorico Pascua and Venancio Pascua.
All three raised their families in Central Washington and are deceased.
The reason this all came about is that Pascua and other American Filipinos of the post-World War II generation believed the Filipino contribution had not been fully recognized.
American-produced World War II documentaries testify to that. They focus on the American Military. Filipino Warriors are rarely mentioned.
According to Pascua, all organized armed forces in the Philipines, an American territory at the time, were placed under the American flag and American command in July 1941, well before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
More than 260,000 Filipinos fought alongside Americans against Japan, he said. A great number of others formed guerrilla armies and fought the Japanese to the end of the war.
After a long, hard fight and the departure of Gen. Douglas McArthur, Japan imposed its will on the Filipinos in 1942. They remained in control until 1945, Pascua said.
“I was born in the Philippines,” Pascua said. “My mother used to tell me how cruel the Japanese were. They ran to the hills to get away from them.”
Pascua noted that the rarely mentioned Filipinos were a much larger number than the Americans in the Bataan Death March. He said more Filipinos than Americans died on that march.