Introduction: Under One Flag

1892 – Present

The Untold Story

Two nations—the United States and the Philippines—fighting under one flag.

This is the untold history of Filipinos’ sacrifice and patriotism during World War II, and their decades-long quest for recognition and justice after the war. It is a story of courageous men and women who gave everything for their country, only to have their efforts largely forgotten and ignored.

Filipino guerrillas from the heroic raid on the Japanese prison camp at Cabanatuan. U.S. National Archives

The story begins with Filipinos and Americans locked in a brutal struggle over who would rule the Philippines. Within a generation, Filipinos and Americans are fighting side by side, defending the values of the United States on the battlefield. Our story continues with Filipino American Veterans, denied their rightful benefits, fighting in courtrooms, legislative halls, and in the streets, to hold America to its promises.

Filipino WWII veterans demonstrate for their benefits in front of the Veterans Memorial building in San Francisco, California. Filipino World War II Soldiers: America's Second-Class Veterans by Rick Rocamora

Oral History

WWII in the Pacific... was about which empire, the United States or Japan, was going to have imperial control.

Dr. Colleen Woods, Historian, Professor at University of Maryland

Why should Americans care?

Separated by thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean, the two nations were first joined in 1898. The United States colonized the Philippines, holding it as a territory until 1946. At the outset of World War II, Filipinos and Americans—marching together under the American flag—fought to protect the Philippines from Japanese invasion. For three years Filipino guerrillas risked everything to liberate their homeland.

“Filipino soldiers of WWII fought and died for the same reasons American soldiers did: the preservation of democracy and freedom around the world.”
Duty to Country

The Rescission Act stripped Filipino WWII soldiers of citizenship rights and veterans benefits.

In 1946, the Philippines won its independence from the United States. But legacies of discrimination continued. Under One Flag documents the injustice perpetrated by the Rescission Act of 1946. This little-known U.S. law stripped most Filipino World War II soldiers of their citizenship rights and veterans benefits.

The Rescission Act of 1946 is a U.S. law that annulled benefits payable to Filipino troops.

Across a century of history, Under One Flag features first-hand accounts of living veterans, historians, and community advocates. It showcases archival photographs, films, and historical documents preserved as the wartime generation passes from the scene.

An American officer presents awards to members of the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment at Wallace Field, Manila (1946). U.S. National Archives

It aims to recognize these men and women for their service and to prompt all Americans to recognize these events as part of our shared history. And it seeks to empower a new generation of young people to reflect on what we owe our country, and how we can ensure America fulfills its promises in the future.

Filipino WWII veteran Ciriaco Ladines proudly displays his Congressional Gold Medal, received during the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 25, 2017.

Oral History

This is not just a Filipino story, this is an American story.

Jonathan Melegrito, Secretary of FilVetREP, Activist, Son of Veteran

Why should Americans care?

Under One Flag begins with the Colonial Period, setting the stage and providing critical context.

It recounts the stories of World War II in depth, from generals and privates to guerrillas and civilians.

The Post-World War II era reveals the U.S. government rescinding its commitment to those who fought in the Philippines under our flag.

The story continues through the Contemporary Period. For decades Filipino Americans, veterans, and others have fought tirelessly in the Supreme Court and the halls of Congress for recognition, veterans benefits, and citizenship denied to them.

For decades, Filipino Americans have fought for recognition, benefits, and rights denied to them.

Next Section

1892 – 1898

Building a Nation

After centuries as colonial subjects of the Spanish Empire, Filipinos began to challenge that authority during the nineteenth century.

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