Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Filipino veteran who was fed with dog food

Dear mouse,

In my early years in the US, I moved from a suburban area to the City for convenience and accessibility to public transport.

The house owned by a friend-nurse was three houses away from his mother's house where many Filipino veterans waiting for their papers and benefits were renting the so-called in-law (that is not a relative by affinity but a garage converted into a room that is often rented out by the homeowner).

There were about eight of them in that one bedroom/kitchen/living room accommodation.They were like sardines packed in a small can.

That was the most practical living arrangement that they could find with their 500 or so dollar monthly welfare check considering that with their age and status, they still sent money to their relatives back home, and I thought these geriatrics should be enjoying their twilight years.

Among the veterans was an old man who was barely 5 feet tall. He was so small that you would think that he was a small boy wrapped in that thick woolen jacket.

One of the veterans that I befriended intimated to me however that, that small man got a lot of money awarded to him by the court as a victim of abuse by some people who first took them in upon arrival from the Philippines.

This is an excerpt of that story of the Filipino veteran who was made to eat dog food.

Legendary WWII vet passes on

MAGDALENO Duenas, 90, a small and gentle Filipino American World War II veteran, died February 27 at the Nob Hill Health Care Center in San Francisco.

Duenas gained undeserved fame in December 1993 when the San Francisco Chronicle featured photos and news stories about him and 16 veterans who were held in virtual captivity by an abusive landlord in Richmond, Calif. who beat and chained them.

The Filipino landlord fed him dog food and kept his monthly welfare payments. They were rescued by Contra Costa County police and later filed suit against the landlord and won.

Duenas’ case received extensive news coverage in 1994 in California. It brought to public attention the plight of poor and elderly Filipino veterans who came to America expecting to receive VA pensions for their honorable U.S. military service but were terribly disappointed to learn that they were excluded by the Rescission Act passed by Congress on Feb. 18, 1946.

At first, I thought that the veteran whom I befriended was luckier because he was able to bring the wife with him.

But with two mouths to feed with a meager monthly welfare pension, the old woman who was a lot younger than the husband had to work as live-in caregiver, leaving the husband all by himself during weekdays.

One time, he was gone for a day. He did not come back not until the following day. He was no longer wearing his much prized old Bulova watch. His clothes were torn and dirty. He was incoherent.

In his attempt to explore the streets, blocks away from his residence, he wandered in the notorious area populated by black thugs. There, he was beaten to pulp and got robbed of his only treasure, the watch.

He was never normal again after that traumatic experience that he had to be shipped home accompanied by a nurse in the airplane.

He lost also his welfare since his pension is only good if they stayed here in the US. That was the reason why many of them at their old age came and lived in the US.

Tssk tsssk, who sez that old soldiers never die; they just fade they away.

The Ca t sez, old soldiers never die, they just become names in the memorials.

The Ca t

11 Comments:

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous AnP said...

didn't know that is what happens to them when they move to the US. wawa naman.

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger cathcath said...

Anp,
Talagang kawawa sila. After fighting side byside with the US, they were denied of the benefits due them.

 
At 8:48 AM, Blogger celia kusinera said...

Kawawa nga sila lalo na yung pinakain ng dog food. Bakit kaya sa lahat man sulok ng mundo merong magte-take advantage ng ibang tao? It saddens me to think of this side of human nature.

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...my father is a US veteran too (worked in Okinawa) and stayed in CA for about 9 yrs until 2000 when he suffered a stroke and we asked him to go home. He's receiving about $900 that time and when he went home, continues to receive about $500 SSI (they adjusted it for cost of living). Maybe some veterans didn't know they can apply for a change in homebase. It's allowed and they will send the SSI through the bank direct deposit.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous cheesecake said...

oooppps...i wrote the previous post.

cheesecake

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger cathcath said...

cheesecake,
The man in the story is not a US veteran. He was a Filino veteran who fought in the Phils during World War 2 . He was among the remaining living few who were promised citizenships and pensions during the war.

In the 1990's they were allowed to come to the States while waiting for the pensions as promised.

In the meantime, as greencardholders, and over 65, they were granted the monthly SSI which is generally not for "take home" to the Philippines to be enjoyed.

With the failure to avail the other benefits due them, the ageing veterans , represented by concerned Filipino groups, requested for the take home of a certain percentage of the mnthly welfare check. It was only in the year 2000 when this request was granted.

Those who had gone home should avail of these thru proper channels.

I hope, like the first time, they ventured out to the US, no vultures would take advntage of their cause.

 
At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Luchie said...

this is a sad story. my father then was eligible to stay in the US but did not stay there for he knew that his life would not be as comfortable as in the Phil. some of my siblings did not agree but my father had his own views about USA.
he said that British government honour veterans from other countries like the Gurkas better than how the US treated veterans from other countries. and now i agree. you see in UK Gurkas could be citizens easily and with same priveleges as the UK veterans.
but they said some higher ups in RP before sold their rights in exchange for money but we are idiots to make them as heroes.

 
At 1:17 AM, Blogger infraternam meam said...

cat...my dad is also a Filipino veteran and was part of the death march, survive the torture of the Japanese, now 84 years old and during the time of George Bush senior, the Pinoy veterans was given the chance to come to the US and get their SSI and their Green Card. my father got his long time ago, but did not collect any money from the US govt. for reasons, my father will not tell us. he is happy at home in his garden with my mom and he is happy seeing that we have already prepared his place at Manila Memorial Park when the times comes, besides my mother. yes, there are people who are so heartless to those who are weak. most probably this is the reason also my dad wants to retire at home, because he is more comfortable there.

 
At 6:57 AM, Blogger cathcath said...

luchie,

i overheard my mom talking to my grandpa about the two military officials who got all the papers of my two uncles.(they were students at UP before the War and joined the Philippine Scouts daw). They were beheaded by the Japanese.

So my grandparents were working on some papers for claims daw sa US.

And these people got all the docs. My grandparents did not hear from them since.

 
At 7:03 AM, Blogger cathcath said...

frat,
buti doon na lamg siya kasi sa nakita kong buhay ng mga beterano dito, kakaawa.

 
At 2:57 AM, Blogger Marc Macalua said...

It's a travesty, the way the US is treating our vets...betrayal most foul.

 

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