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U.S., Filipino veterans' sacrifice remembered in Veterans Day memorial

Steve Angeles | TFC News Los Angeles

Posted at Nov 15 2023 06:00 PM

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Franco Arcebal, 99, is one of the last of his era of Filipino veterans who served in World War 2.

Arcebal spent Veterans Day in Historic Filipinotown at the Valor Memorial where he joined community members in paying tribute to his fallen comrades.

While decades have passed since the war, Arcebal still vividly remembers his experience.

"I was a guerrilla when I was still a teenager," he said. "I was captured by the Japanese sentenced to death by decapitation. I escaped my prison cell and joined the guerilla warfare until the war was over."

First hand accounts like Arcebal’s are becoming more rare with each passing veteran.

But their descendants continue to remember their place in history.

Joey Pangilinan was present in the Veterans Day celebration to remember her grandfather, who survived the Bataan Death March in 1942.

"I’m here to represent my entire family, and recognize his service to this country, his name was Sgt. Jacob DeLeon Abelgas," said Pangilinan. "He served in the United States Armed forces in the Far East from 1941 to 1946. He survived the Bataan Death March. But before all this he was just my grandpa."

Another relative of a veteran is Terry Gubatan, who called for greater remembrance of U.S. and Filipino troops’ sacrifice.

"The takeaway from us in remembering today and this monument is for us to look ahead," he said, "to remember all the things that have happened in the past."

It’s been over 80 years since World War 2, but the fight for recognition and benefits go on for the last remaining veterans like Arcebal, and the descendants of those who fought in the war.

Last month the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act was introduced in U.S. Congress. The measure would offer a need-based death pension to the remaining survivors.

The bill also directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider alternative military documentation when determining benefits eligibility.