THE United States Congress on Wednesday presented the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino World War II veterans for their service and sacrifice during the war.
Among those who posthumously received the highest civilian honor the US Congress could bestow was 1st Lt. Purisimo Basa Reyes, the father of Pinoy Houston TV’s Executive Producer Leonides “Loloy” Reyes.
1t Lt. Reyes, a native of Cavite City, was a reservist when the second world war broke out and became an intelligence operative actively engaged in information gathering that ultimately helped the Americans liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.
Aside from being a member of the Intelligence Corps, 1st Lt. Reyes, who is an accountant-lawyer, was also then the concurrent Executive Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment of the Cavite United Free Guerrilla Forces (Mag-Irog unit), United States Forces in the Philippines which was then attach to the 11th Airborne Division under Maj. Gen. Joseph Swing.
According to Loloy, his father worked for the Bureau of Internal Revenue after the war. He proudly described him as a disciplinarian and a good provider.
Loloy also said Ms. Christy Poisot of The Philippine Veterans Recognition and Education Project (Filvetrep), an all-volunteer initiative that had lobbied Congress to give the award and recognition, was instrumental for the rightful recognition that his father received.
The Filvetrep, which was organized in 2014, aims to memorialize the service and sacrifice of the more than 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers during the Second World War.
Loloy also disclosed that it was retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba who later informed him that his father will be given honor by the US Congress.
“I am honored and feel so proud of my father…” Loloy said in an earlier interview shown on PHTV’s Howdy Philippines after learning that his father will be posthumously recognized by the US Congress for his heroic deeds during the last world war.
The honoring ceremony, which was attended by members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, took place in Emancipation Hall of the US. Capitol Visitor Center. US House Speaker Paul Ryan gave a short remark prior to the presentation of the medals.
“This is a day that is long, long overdue…” Ryan said. He then proceeded to recall the events that brought war to the Asia-Pacific region starting from when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
He noted that more than 10,000 Americans and nearly one million Filipinos, mostly civilians, died during the war.
“We are blessed to be joined today not only by some of these veterans, but also their families. Thank you for being here. You are an integral part of this legacy. And without you, we know this day would not have been possible,” Ryan said.
“A longtime dear friend of mine, my former deputy chief of staff, Joyce Meyer, tells the story of her great grandfather, Andres Arribe. He was one of many Filipinos recruited from Manila during the war. He was a sharp shooter. He was at Leyte when General MacArthur was there. But like too many others, he was stricken with tuberculosis and passed away shortly after the war,” narrated Ryan.
“But his granddaughter used his veterans benefits to help pay for a college education, and she became the first in her family to move to America. And today, her daughter—this soldier’s great-granddaughter—works for the President of the United States. So you see, this is not simply a feel-good story of delayed recognition. We are here to immortalize the legacy of great liberators, who have paved the way for generations to follow,” Ryan concluded.