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Filipino Soldiers in World War 2

Author: Mark Pernia
World War 2
- In the emergence of the Axis Powers, Adolf Hitler in Europe, And the Japanese in Asia the entire world was plunged into chaos and war. Both entities, despite being allies, believed in their supremacy and took on the role of being the guiding hand and prime mover of their respective areas namely Europe and Asia. In short, the Japanese viewed all the lands of Asia to be the rightful property of the Imperial Japanese Government and the Emperor. The Japanese Land invasion of her nearby countries namely: Korea and China and parts of Russia.
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 Their actions towards that goal of unifying or dominating the whole of Asia was hindered by the presence of foreign military forces in the Philippines (United States), Hong Kong, Malaysia (United Kingdom) and the Dutch East Indies. Central to successfully realizing their goal of taking all Asian lands was to attack simultaneously the US, UK, and Dutch forces to prevent their ability to reinforce and aid their Asian possessions. After pondering on the idea of declaring war against three big armies, they considered the fact that both the Dutch and British were tied up with the war in Europe, the U.S. was then viewed as an opportunity by the Japanese to extend their "rightful" place as a ruler in Asia. After the declaration of war by Japan against the United States, the Commonwealth of the Philippines which had strategic American bases in the country was invaded by the Empire of Japan in December 1941. With the aftermath of the attack in pearl harbor and damaging or sinking a lot of warships, the combined American – Filipino army after Gen. Douglas McArthur left and made his famous promise “I shall be back” was defeated via a notice of surrender by the commanding officer in Corregidor because their ammunition, medical and food supplies ran out, and sickness was spreading among the men left fighting for a lot of dead soldiers were rotting and not yet buried. Before surrendering the commanding general announced to his men of the intended surrender, a lot of Filipino soldier were not in favor of that plan, they were willing to fight to the last man using anything they could use as a weapon, in an interview showcase by discovery channel regarding the battle of Corregidor, one reason cited by a Filipino veteran was the fact that the Filipino’s are sick and tired of being colonized by another colonial master, remembering the Spanish colonial rule in the country. Despite their opinion on the matter it was an inevitable choice that the commander had to make. Defeated it may seem, the guerrilla resistance against Japanese occupation continued throughout the war, even though their outnumbered and out classed in terms of weaponry, they fought with whatever they had and used their knowledge of the terrain which gave them a bit of advantage in engaging the enemy at times. The guerrilla resistance was also joined by uncaptured Filipino army units, a communist insurgency and supporting American agents all played a role in the resistance. Due to the huge number of islands, the Japanese did not occupy them all. Japanese control over the countryside and smaller towns was often tenuous at best. In fact the Filipino resistance was a great help in providing vital intel to the Americans in eventually defeating the Japanese forces in 1944 and liberated the Philippines. Filipino heroism, bravery and love for country was truly a prevailing theme in every individual. They continued to fight the Japanese despite the hindrances that came their way which gave way to a very important effect they had was that they gave hope to everyone in the country and to holding on to the promise of Gen. Douglas McArthur to return and liberate the Philippines. After the war, Filipino veterans were recognized for their bravery and self-sacrifice for the country, as such they were promised certain benefits due to them. Although, in a statement given by Rick Rocamora's, a photo journalist, said “that thousands of Filipinos who fought alongside American soldiers during World War II in the Philippines often died waiting for the U.S. government to recognize their wartime sacrifices and fulfill its promises of American citizenship and veterans benefits. His book follows the veterans' daily struggles; many of them lived in San Francisco's rough neighborhoods, separated from their families, eking out an existence by collecting cans and living in single-room occupancy hotels. Over the years, the issue of Filipino World War II veterans' equity has had intermittent victories, but it wasn't until the passage of President Obama's stimulus package that funding came through for the Filipino Veterans Act of 2008. The bill gives $15,000 to those who are U.S. citizens and $9,000 to non-citizens, but in order to receive the benefits, the veterans must fill out and sign an application and submit proof of verifiable military service.” But this might prove to be a feat in itself to provide adequate proof of being a war veteran.  This is truly unfair especially to n those Filipino war veteran’s because during the war they were in fact considered as a soldier of the United States and are therefore eligible for the same benefits as a U.S. war veteran. The U.S. being an icon of all that is democratic and justice should see this as an act of deprival of those who helped give the democracy and freedom we enjoy today.

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