Hawaii Filipino WW2 vets to get compensation for their service

Art Caleda
Art Caleda
Lucio Farinas
Lucio Farinas
Nic Musico
Nic Musico
Salome Calderone
Salome Calderone

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

WAIPAHU (KHNL) - Money matters are on the minds of most, including hundreds of island Filipinos who will receive help from the recently signed stimulus bill.

The bill sets aside nearly 200 million dollars for Filipino veterans. But this compensation is more than just a matter of money, it's a matter of respect for those who fought for the United States.

With a pen stroke, President Obama not only signed a multi-billion dollar stimulus package, he also kept a promise made by a president long ago.

"After more than 65 year of fighting for our rights, it has finally materialized," said Hawaii Filipino Veteran, Art Caleda.

Filipino vets who fought for the US against Japan in World War II, fought for benefits and compensation after the war.

"It was very discouraging because President Roosevelt said we should be compensated just like the US Army," said Lucio Farinas.

Finally, that compensation has come.

Filipino veterans that became US residents after the war will get a lump sum of $15,000. Non US citizen veterans will get $9,000.

Money, many of these seniors desperately need.

"The vets are living completely dependant on social security income, and they are living below poverty level," said Caleda.

While the money helps, Filipino veterans feel the compensation also gives them greater respect.

"The recognition is the most important part, before the bill they could not say they are full fledged veterans and it hurts them," said Nic Musico, a supporter of Hawaii's Filipino Veterans.

After the war, there were an estimated 6,000 Filipino veterans here in Hawaii. Many have moved away, others have passed away. But now they will go with the recognition as an honored veteran.

"I want to be buried at the Kaneohe Veterans Cemetary. If I am buried there, they will know I was regular US army, not just a Filipino guerrilla," said Farinas.

And now, these old soldiers are happy to have accomplished one last mission in their lives.

"I think its very important in our old age many are over 80 over 90, some are dying. At least we can hold something and enjoy a little of what we have done," said Hawaii Filipino Veteran, Salome Caderon.

Even though the veterans will receive compensation, they are still fighting for other benefits, like allowing their families to immigrate to the United States.