This is the podcast for the USA Bureau of Inquirer.net, the web home of the Manila-based Philippines Inquirer. There are close to 5-million Filipinos in America. They make nearly half of more than $24 billion in remittances to the Philippines. They live in America, care about the Philippines, and have stories to tell. Hear them here.
Ep.3 SF Philippine Con.Gen. Henry Bensurto-PART TWO--on Independence Day, Violence in the Philippines, Duterte
Emil Guillermo: Inquirer.net Podcast—Philippine Consul General of San Francisco, Henry Bensurto, Jr. PART TWO: My frank conversation about the rise of Nationalism, EJK, Violence in the Philippines, Duterte’s Trump Invite, and more on Independence Day.
San Francisco’s “ConGen,” Henry Bensurto, Jr. continued our conversation on the Inquirer.net podcast.
Bensurto, the official voice of the Philippines for San Francisco and most of the West, spoke to the irony of the Independence Day celebration taking place in San Francisco’s Union Square, home of a monument that represents the polar opposite of Philippine Independence.
Indeed, the monument, is the negation of the spirit of independence.
While the people do the Tinikling on temporary stages, a monument looks down on the proceedings from on high honoring Admiral George Dewey and President William McKinley.
Dewey you’ll recall won the victory of Manila Bay that led to the victory of the Spanish American War, which led to the colonization of the Philippines by the U.S.
McKinley? He was the guy who pressed for an Imperial America.
So on the day we honor Emilio Aguinaldo, who established the First Philippine Republic, and led to the Philippine-U.S. war and its immoral number of Filipino casualties, we must ask this question: Is Union Square really the right place to celebrate this day?
Who would turn more in their graves at the thought of the revelers at Union Square? Freedom loving Aguinaldo, or the statue’s imperial honorees, Dewey or McKinley?
Benurto was a true diplomat.
Listen to Bensurto’s answer on the podcast.
We also talked about the importance of Independence Day here, and how we should view what is clearly a move toward a more nationalistic Philippines.
I then asked Bensurto how Filipinos in America should view the extrajudicial killings, and the acts of violence which polls say people in the Philippines fear. I asked him if any families here have contacted him about families there.
We end up talking about Duterte and the possibility of a Trump visit here. And how the Consulate has established Ambassador tours to increase American Filipinos awareness of what is happening “back home.”
The interview was conducted before martial law was declared in Mindanao.
Ep.2- Philippine Consul General of San Francisco,Henry Bensurto , PART ONE
Emil Guillermo: Inquirer.net Podcast—Philippine Consul General of San Francisco, Henry Bensurto, Jr. --PART ONE
Listen to San Francisco’s “ConGen,” Henry Bensurto, Jr. on our Inquirer.net podcast.
Bensurto is the official voice of the Philippines for San Francisco and most of the West. He said of the nearly 5 million Filipinos in the U.S. about 1.5 million were in his jurisidiction.
In the first part of a frank conversation, Bensurto talked about the importance of dual citizens, and how the last Philippine election saw an uptick bringing the number of his dual voters to 44,000.
But the more important number is the $24 billion in remittances that get sent back to the Philippines each year. That’s where the influence is. Nearly half of that $24 billion—roughly 44 percent—come from U.S. Filipinos, Bensurto said.
It means Filipinos abroad deserve their say in what happens in the Philippines, in Malacanang and in the Philippine Congress.
We also talked about the importance of the upcoming Philippine Independence Day celebration, with a gala concert at San Francisco’s Marines Memorial Theatre, Fri. the 16th ; and an open event on June 18th at noon at San Francisco’s Union Square.
Listen to Part One of the conversation with “Con Gen” Henry Bensurto, Jr.
Emil Guillermo is the host and producer of the Inquirer.net podcast.
Ep.1--For 100th Birthday,Filipino WW2 Vet Celestino Almeda wishes for Equity.
Emil Guillermo Inquirer.net PODCAST –Fiiipino WWII Vet continues fight for equity pay says, “I have the records!”
Dateline: Maryland, USA
On June 8, Filipino WWII Vet Celestino Almeda officially turns 100. And every day he’s ready for a fight.
If you think the issue of Filipino WWII veterans’ equity pay was over, you are sadly mistaken.
For Almeda, it’s practically become his personal Bataan Death March. Only this time it’s against the U.S. bureauracy.
Almeda is one of the last of the living vets appealing for his rights to equity pay.
In 2009, President Obama finally kept the promise of pay and benefits to the vets who were denied what was due them by the Rescission Act in 1946.
Nearly 20,000 veterans have been granted more than $220 milion.
The payouts were in a lump sum payment of $15,000 to Filipino veterans living in the U.S., and $9,000 for those still in the Philippines
But the VA has also rejected close to 24,000 cases.
There's about $56 million left in the pot.
But that doesn't mean the VA is willingly giving it out, at least not to Almeda.
When I visited Almeda last month, he told the Inquirer podcast that he keeps fighting because he has all the documents that show he was in the United States Armed Forces of the Far East as a member of the Philippine Army.
He believes his still battling because the U.S. “cannot admit it made mistakes.”
The denial may be due to Almeda being linked to a particular commanding officer who was under investigation. U.S. Army declassified documents show that there was broad concern over the practice of selling military paperwork to Filipinos, thus inflating the number who could claim to be guerrillas.
But Almeda said he made his application for equity pay not as a guerrilla but as a member of the USAFFE. He has no doubt he served.
“I gambled my youthful years in service to my country, which was a territory of the United States,” Almeda said.
In the podcast, he recalls his first day of service, and how he attempted to recruit guerrillas unsuccessfully. Almeda describes what life was like in a Japanese-occupied Manila during WWII.
He doesn’t forget.
Almeda says the appeal is still on. His documents have actually been good enough to grant him citizenship in 1990. And he was even able to obtain a VA medical card, as well.
But he doesn’t want to give up the fight for the lump sum, even though he admits, it’s not about the money.
“What is $15,000 these days nothing. And yet the Veterans Administration make it so hard to for me to be recognized. And I was thinking, is America really to stingy to release $15.000 to an old man who has served? I don’t know…I’ve done my part.”
Hear more in this exclusive Emil Guillermo Media/Philippine Inquirer podcast.
Inquirer USA columnist Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator based in California. Contact him at www.amok.com.
Read more at www.inquirer.net