thing: Veterans equity, a community’s equity
July 10, 2009 | Author: Emil Guillermo
fight for funding in San Francisco is worse than originally thought. The
failure of the city to give a part of $9 million in family/youth funds to any non-profit that specifically targets Filipinos is actually a small slight compared
to the tens of millions in public dollars the city allocates.The Filipino community’s share? Infinitesimal.
That’s a big
word for “small.”A few thousand dollars may trickle down, but nothing in proportion to the size of the Filipino
community in San Francisco , estimated at just under 50,000 people.
Apparently the appeal
of the young people at a rally at City Hall last week, which I described as “Little Peoples’ Power,” did
little to open up neither heartstrings nor purse-strings of city officials. At least not yet.
But the appeal did
bring some groups together. And has succeeded in putting pressure on Mayor
Gavin Newsom and the SF Board of Supervisors.
these days, the young and the old are the moral compass of our Filipino community.
Between the young,
who sport the highest dropout and teen pregnancy rates in city schools, and the old, represented by our valiant Filipino veterans
of WWII, we have
the two core groups that can actually unify the community.
Everyone else is
left in the middle, where it’s a dogfight. Or I suppose, in familiar Filipino cultural terms, a crab fight.That’s
the way it’s always been.
POWER STRUGGLE IN
Today, the middle
ground is being fought out in the South of Market by the Filipino cronies of Supervisor
Chris Daly and the older generation of Filipinos who were under former Mayor Willie Brown’s wing.
The cronies are
willing to blend in, make nice and seek services with agencies based in other communities.
The older crowd
is pushing to preserve a real sense of Filipino identity that has long been in the South of Market and the Excelsior districts.
The recent rally shows they’re ready to make some noise in the name of a very large community that despite voting and
paying taxes, pays little attention to grassroots issues. Not anymore.
Those who thought
they could just get the $9 million through without discussion have been proven wrong.
equity, after all. The Filipino veterans of WWII have taught us a thing or two about that subject. And even though payments
are being made now to vets, some still wouldn’t know equity if it was served up on a platter.
GET MONEY, BUT LITTLE RESPECT IN CONGRESS
The compromise of
this year over lump sum or annual payments be damned. The veterans are still the glue that holds the community together. Even
more so than the kids.Until the last ones die and prove how wrong the lump sum compromise was, we still have them to make
us well up with Filipino pride. And guilt.
enough injustice and suffered through enough indignities to last all our lifetimes.
And even though
some are now getting money (said to be faster if they seek assistance at West Bay
Multi-Service Center), they still haven’t been given the respect you’d
expect. Currently, two bills -- S.768 (by Senator Udall, NM) and H.R. 2598 (by Rep Heinrich, NM)
-- continue to exclude the role of Filipino soldiers in WW II. Shouldn’t all soldiers be honored as equals
if they were under the same command, or in the same POW camp?
The enemy doesn’t
the aforementioned bills award medals for service by U.S. citizens only, not those from the Philippines.
Maria Embry is furious
about this error of omission. Yes, 1,600 soldiers from U.S. died in the prison camps as cited in the book, Office of the U.S.
Provost Marshall General Report on the American Prisoners of War interned by the Japanese, Nov. 19, 1945.
bills) omitted the 26,768 Filipinos who died in the same prison camp during the same period mentioned in the same report,”
Embry wrote me.
\A Filipino to U.S.
ratio of about 26-1 in the POW camp? That makes them more Filipino than Daly City
. And not one medal for our Filipino WWII vets.
Why the omission?
There’s been no answer from either congressman about the exclusion of Filipino vets.
And with every passing
day, a shunted veteran dies without honor.
went to the funeral of Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, one of the soldiers excluded from the two bills.
memory, I will continue this equity fight,” she told me. “The Congressional
Gold Medal must be granted to POW U.S. military personnel and should not include place of nativity and domicile, race
and citizenship as criteria.”
By pushing for amendments
to the bills, Embry is continuing the push for equity.So should we all. Whether veterans
equity or community equity, the principle is the same.
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