An exhibit covering the often overlooked contributions of Filipinos to the military defense of American interests during two world wars will open Oct. 1 at the James & Abigail Campbell Library.
“Filipino Americans in World War I and World War II” will be shown in the second-floor exhibition area of the library and will run through Nov. 2. The exhibition was put together by the Filipino-American Historical Society of Hawaiʻi, which says that during World War I, a majority of people who enlisted for the defense of Hawaiʻi were Filipino migrant workers and that during World War II thousands of Filipino Americans and Filipinos in the Philippines rallied to the call to take back Japan-occupied Philippines.
The creators hope the exhibits promote further research of topics, especially in areas of local history, U.S.-Philippines relations, World War I/World War II events and U.S. (and Hawaiʻi) policies regarding Filipino Americans.
The World War I exhibit consists of three two-sided panels, which contains descriptive texts, photos and period news clippings of Filipino recruits. The Filipino-American Historical Society of Hawaiʻi notes that more than 4,000 Filipinos in Hawaiʻi were recruited, trained and promised benefits, though for most of them the benefits were not forthcoming. The exhibit was created in conjunction with the centennial commemoration of the end of World War I.
The World War II exhibit consists of six pull-up panels (banner-type), one-sided, which tell the story of Filipinos (from the Philippines, Hawaiʻi and elsewhere) who contributed to the 1944-45 Philippines Campaign to liberate the country by defeating the Imperial Japanese forces. A description of the current Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Filipino veterans is included.
Filipino soldiers and guerilla fighters laid the groundwork for the campaign, which began with an assault on the island of Leyte in October 1944. The invasion marked the return of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had vowed to return when driven from the Philippines by the Japanese two years earlier.
The operation was aided by hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and involved fighting on Luzon and other Philippine islands. The forces were successful in the campaign and dealt a blow to Japan’s naval and ground forces, vindicating the loss of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. The creators of the exhibit say thousands of Philippine Filipinos who fought for the U.S. and were promised veterans’ benefits but were eventually denied the benefits.