The veterans honored were Capt. Juan Bacani, Carlos Calub, Isidro dela Torre, Pelagio Fariñas, Benjamin Gonzales Sr., Capt. Enrique S.D. Manaois, Arcadio Nepomuceno, Cirilo Ofilada, Basilio Toledo and Johnson Villanueva.
STAR/ File
10 Pinoy WWII vets get US Congressional Gold Medal
Pia Lee Brago (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Ten Filipino World War II veterans were presented the US Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) in recognition of the valor and sacrifice of the Filipino soldiers and recognized guerrillas who fought alongside American troops during the war.

None of the 10, however, was on hand to receive the award.

The Philippine consulate general in New York, working in close partnership with the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FILVETREP), presented the medals at a ceremony recently held at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Center in New York. 

The veterans honored were Capt. Juan Bacani, Carlos Calub, Isidro dela Torre, Pelagio Fariñas, Benjamin Gonzales Sr., Capt. Enrique S.D. Manaois, Arcadio Nepomuceno, Cirilo Ofilada, Basilio Toledo and Johnson Villanueva.

Of the 10 awardees, Nepomuceno is the only one who is still alive, but because of his advanced age, he could not attend the ceremony. Family members represented all the veterans and received the medals on their behalf.

The grant of the medal was the result of many years of lobbying by the veterans and their supporters. The law granting the award was passed in 2015, 70 years after the end of WWII. 

In his speech during the ceremony, retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, FILVETREP chairman, recounted the struggle of his father, also a WWII veteran who, after enlistment and after having fought in the war, was given his pay of $22.80.

This unfairness was what drove Taguba to work tirelessly to make sure that the veterans are recognized, no matter how many years have passed. 

Taguba travels all over the United States, working closely with the Filipino community and the Philippine consulates to find opportunities to present the award to Filipino veterans. He emphasized that, with the march of time, it is also imperative to preserve the stories of the bravery and struggles of the veterans, before they all pass and in order for present generations not to forget their sacrifices. 

Philippine Consul General to New York Claro Cristobal thanked the veterans’ family members for “braving the cold brought by the first snowfall” and expressed hope that the “patriotic acts of those veterans being honored tonight will bring a sense of warmth and camaraderie to those who are present.”

CGM FILVETREP WORLD WAR II VETERANS
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