Monday, November 15, 2010


Nearly half a century later, retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba revealed his father, a Death March survivor, has yet to tell him what happened during those dark days of World War II.

Taguba, who’s been fighting for recognition and benefits for Filipino World War II veterans, wants to draw attention to war-borne post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

HBO recently showed its latest documentary – “Wartorn” – that explored PTSD from the American Civil War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Shell shock” was a common term to describe this condition during World War II. Some afflicted with PTSD were accused of cowardice; and it was manifested in many ways ranging from suicides to paralysis.

Taguba said the world is only starting to understand the deep scars that soldiers take back with them after war.

“He still hasn’t talked about the war,” he said about his father Tomas.

His father was a soldier in the 45th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Scouts. He survived the Battle of Bataan and the infamous Death March, and became a prisoner of war (POW).

“He just sits there. He talks about everything except the war,” Taguba revealed.

He indicated that people owe it to the soldiers who fought to preserve their freedom and way of life to know and understand.

The war loomed large in their upbringing. He recalled how his mother Maria would cook “lugaw” to show them what it was like.

“We hated it,” he confessed amusedly. “If we were lucky, we’d have a sliver of chicken.”

There are 23 million veterans in the US. But he noted that only 2.2 million actually avail of benefits provided by the government.

Very few people know, for instance, that Filipino World War II veterans are already eligible for 17 different kinds of benefits, Taguba explained.

The benefits range from service-connected disability to medical care; from clothing allowances to small business loans. Some are restricted to US residents; still others are open to those in the Philippines.

As the son of a Filipino war veteran, Taguba is driven by a deep desire to win the recognition and benefits befitting their courage, suffering and sacrifices.

“I’m still waiting for him to tell his story,” he says of his father, “maybe someday he will.”

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