SECOND CLASS VETERANS - A PBS Documentary on Filipino WWII Veterans


Brown Belt
MTS Alumni
Nov 15, 2002
Reaction score
Sacramento, California, USA
Hey there,

Following is a press release that I received about a documentary concerning the Filipino Veterans in the US Armed Forces during WWII. Many of them were eskrimadors and knowledge of their struggle and the way they were treated after the war is important to many of us as eskrimadors and also as people who benefited from their sacrifice. Please watch this show if you can.

Bart Hubbard
Capital Doce Pares

Reveal the stories of Filipino World War II veterans

San Francisco, CA.

Since 1992, Rick Rocamora has photographed the vets, helping to educate the American public about the history and lives of the ex-soldiers. SECOND CLASS VETERANS also shows the struggle of the veterans and the Filipino community's struggle for equity.

Rick was one of the very first committed to helping the Filipino veterans achieve justice, and he explains why he feels the issue is important, "Americans should be concerned about the issue of Equity for Filipino World War II veterans. Like any other veteran who served this country honorably, Filipinos did their share. And yet, this country has treated them unfairly."

Starting October 2003, this poignant new documentary will be the first about Filipino World War II veterans to air nationwide in local PBS stations. SECOND CLASS VETERANS was directed by Donald Young and produced by Vida Benavides. Original music was composed and performed by popular Filipino musician Joey Ayala.

During World War II, President Roosevelt ordered Filipinos to fight under the American flag. 200,000 fought, and over half of them were killed in the historic battles of Bataan and Corregidor. After the war, the Congress of 1946 stripped the Filpino soldiers of promised military benefits. Out of 66 allied countries, the Filipino soldiers were the only group denied full benefits. Fewer than 30,000 are still alive, and for nearly 60 years they've waited for the promises to be restored.

Thousands of the veterans have come to the U.S. in hopes of qualifying for and claiming the benefits. In SECOND CLASS VETERANS, we meet veterans like Eugenio Espero, who was awarded three Purple Hearts and requires a wheelchair because of his war injuries. Mr. Espero's frustrations echo those of most veterans, "Most of our co-veterans are disappointed. They thought when they come to America that everything is equal. But no."

Most of the vets are in their 70's and 80's and ill-prepared to live in the U.S. on their own. Many live alone and in abject poverty. Rick's stark black and white photographs powerfully communicate the lives the veterans have been forced to live as they wait for justice in the U.S.

Rick has developed a close bond with many of the veterans, including Magdaleno Duenas, an 87-year-old war hero who lives alone in San Francisco's tough Tenderloin district. During the war, Mr. Duenas helped American soldiers escape from a Japanese POW camp. Mr. Duenas is a charming man who makes friends easily and has become Rick's surrogate father.

Sadly, Mr. Duenas heroic actions during World War II wouldn't make his life better in the U.S. Upon his arrival in San Francisco, Catalino Dazo, himself a Filipino, took advantage of Mr. Duenas and other Filipino vets. Dazo imprisoned the vets and stole their welfare payments. Mr. Duenas was chained to a bed and fed dog food. "I don't think Dazo would do that here. But he did it." Upon hearing about Mr. Duenas and the other vets, Rick mounted a successful mission. That is when Rick became close with Mr. Duenas.

Every year since 1993, equity bills to restore military benefits and formal recognition have been introduced in Congress, but none have garnered enough votes for passage. In 1998, a sponsored equity bill fell 9 votes short. For his part, Rick keeps hoping, but isn't optimistic. "At one time I said, the final picture will be when somebody in the White House will sign a bill changing the provision of the Rescission Act of 1946, giving the veterans full recognition for their contribution during the war. I'm now afraid to say that that opportunity to take that final picture may not happen anymore. But I'm still hoping, you know, I hope it will happen because these Filipino veterans deserve the full recognition for their contribution to this country."

Please check visit to find out when SECOND CLASS VETERANS will broadcast on your local public television station.

NAATA (National Asian Pacific Telecommunications Association)
Since 1980, the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (NAATA) has been at the forefront of bringing Asian Pacific American media to the American public. NAATA was created to challenge the historical exclusion and counteract the distorted portrayals of Asian Pacific Americans in mainstream media.

LOCAL PBS AIR DATES (as of 10/1/03-more air dates of documentary will be announced-so please check and/or your local PBS stations).

KVCR 10/5/03 9:30 PM PT PBS SCV Los Angeles CA
KVCR 10/6/03 5:30 PMPT PBS SCV Los Angeles CA

KPBS 10/12/03 2:30 PMPT PBS SCV San Diego CA
KPBS 10/12/03 11:30 PMPT PBS SCV San Diego CA

KVIE 10/14/03 9:30 PMPT PBS SCV Sacramento Stockton Modesto
KVIE 10/15/03 3:30 PMPT PBS SCV Sacramento Stockton Modesto C
KVIE 10/16/03 4:30 AMPT PBS SCV Sacramento Stockton Modesto CA

WCMV 10/5/03 5:30 PMET PBS SCV Traverse City Cadillac MI
WCMW 10/5/03 5:30 PMET PBS SCV Traverse City Cadillac MI

WCML 10/5/03 5:30 PMET PBS SCV Alpena MI
WCMU 10/5/03 5:30 PMET PBS SCV Flint Saginaw Bay City MI
WDPB 1/11/03 11:30 PMET PBS SCV Salisbury MD

WHYY 11/11/03 11:30 PMET PBS SCV Philadelphia, PA
WTCI 10/9/03 10:30 PMET PBS SCV Chattanooga, TN


Senior Master
MTS Alumni
Jun 20, 2003
Reaction score
Cleveland, OH
They never showed this in my area and it doesn't look like they will anytime soon. Pity. On a side note, the British are still doing this to the Ghurkas units that they retained. Mabey any forum members from the isle across the pond can comment, but from what I gather, Parliment shot down a proposal to institute benefits and pay equal to the rest of the British armed forces. Sounds like a raw deal and a classic display of descrimination.