May 27, 2017
Show log Emil Amok’s Takeout Ep. 15
:00 Emil’s opening rap
1:46 San Diego Fringe Festival and SF Marsh shows
2:30 Coming up intros of top stories
5:05 What made me go amok this week
6:25 Martial Law in the Philippines? Oh, just “Partial
18:12 Intro Celestino Almeda, the 100-year old Filipino
WW2 Vet still
Fighting for his equity pay
24:12 Interview with Almeda
42:28 Intro and interview with Association of Asian American
Studies President-elect Theo Gonzalves,
University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
1:30:00 MY NBA FINALS PICK
Emil Guillermo: Emil Amok's Takeout Podcast - No rest on Memorial
Day for a WWII Filipino Vet; and a conversation with AAAS
President-elect Theo Gonzalves on APAHM
May 26, 2017 7:36 PM
Memorial Day always winds up the annual observation of Asian
Pacific American Heritage Month.
And what better way to remember the one story (along with the
Japanese American Internment) that lingers as the moral compass of
For that reason, this Memorial Day will be a special one for
Filipino WWII Veteran Celestino Almeda.
Despite many vets seeing an equity pay windfall in 2009, a
handful like Almeda are still in appeals.
His fight for justice with the U.S. government has been the
bureaucratic version of the Bataan Death March.
hat's no disrespect to the survivors of that historic event 75
Almeda certainly will remember deceased friends like retired
U.S. Air Force Major Jesse Baltazar, a former POW who survived the
Bataan Death March in 1942, and died just last year at age 96.
Baltazar often accompanied Almeda, fighting side by side in
the latter's bureaucratic battle with the VA over equity pay.
Almeda was a young soldier in the Philippine Army reserve, when he
answered the call of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to
protect the Philippines with the U.S. Armed Forces of the Far East.
The added lure was full benefits as a soldier, including U.S.
As you'll hear in my interview with him on Emil Amok's
Takeout, Almeda, the reservist, was made active for a
He was then made inactive when Gen. MacArthur retreated to
Australia as the Japanese took over Manila.
Almeda has official Philippine Army documents signed by U.S.
officers to document all that. What he doesn't have is the record
that he served in the guerrilla forces, which Almeda says were only
Once the war was over, he was made active again and served
There would be no problem until President Truman signed the
Rescission Act of 1946. which stripped the Filipino veterans of any
right to the benefits that had been promised for their service.
Almeda's service has been good enough to help get him U.S.
citizenship in 1990. He's even been given a VA card for medical
But it wasn't until President Obama in 2009 finally came
through with a lump sum payment of $15,000 to Filipino veterans
living in the U.S., and $9,000 for those still in the Philippines,
that Almeda found himself in the bureaucratic battle of his
The VA has approved more than nearly 19,000 cases, according
to its website. The payout has been more than $220 million.
But it's also rejected close to 24,000 cases.
There's about $56 million left in the pot.
But that doesn't mean the VA is willingly giving it out, at
least not to Almeda.
The VA wouldn't honor his Philippine Army documents, though he
has kept the originals in pristine condition. He's still currently
in appeal, but in the meantime, he's taken to public protests like
one last year when Robert McDonald, the VA Secretary under Obama
appeared in public. In the Q&A part of the program, Almeda
tried to appeal to McDonald but had his mic turned off.
MacDonald's reaction got a stern rebuke from retired General
Antonio Taguba, the general who led the investigation into Abu
Taguba additionally pointed out that updates to the law--PL
111-5, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Filipino Veterans
Equity Compensation)--directed the Secretary of VA to consider all
forms of evidence of service and not just those originally
"This amendment has not been fully executed by the VA," Taguba
complained to Mc Donald.
Now a year later, McDonald's out, a new VA head is in, and
Almeda is still fighting for justice, seemingly locked in the
Bataan Death March of appeals, hoping to get approved for his lump
sum before he turns 100.
It's Memorial Day, but his taste for justice has not died.
Listen to him tell his story on Emil Amok's
Takeout. Days before his 100th birthday, Almeda's
still got a lot of fight left.
AAAS President-elect Theo Gonzalves on the
relevance of Asian American Studies today
On my recent trip to Washington, DC, I was able to talk to an
old friend, Theo Gonzalves of the University of Maryland Baltimore
County, and the president-elect of the Association for Asian
What are they doing? How has Asian American Studies stayed
relevant? How valuable is the AAS degree?
Use the fast forward and listen to Gonzalves, where he thinks
Asian American Studies is going, and the importance of APAHM.
And if you want to read my Emil Amok column on Martial Law
Contact Emil at http://www.aaldef.org/blog, the
site of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
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Emil Guillermo wrote for almost 15 years his "Amok" column for
AsianWeek, which was the largest English language Asian American
newsweekly in the nation. "Amok" was considered the most
widely-read column on Asian American issues in the U.S.
His thoughtful and provocative social commentaries have appeared in
print in the San Francisco Chronicle, SFGate.com, San Francisco
Examiner, USA Today, Honolulu Star Bulletin, Honolulu Advertiser,
Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and in syndication throughout
the country. His columns are seen in Asia and around the
world, on Inquirer.net.
His early columns are compiled in a book "Amok: Essays from an
Asian American Perspective," which won an American Book Award from
the Before Columbus Foundation in 2000.
Guillermo's journalistic career began in television and radio
broadcasting. At National Public Radio, he was the first Asian
American male to anchor a regularly scheduled national news
broadcast when he hosted "All Things Considered" from 1989-1991.
During his watch, major news broke, including the violence in
Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of
dictatorships in Romania and Panama. From Washington, Guillermo
hosted the shows that broke the news.
As a television journalist, his award-winning reports and
commentaries have appeared on NBC, CNN, and PBS. He was a reporter
in San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.
After NPR, Guillermo became a press secretary and speechwriter for
then Congressman Norman Mineta, the former cabinet member in the
Bush and Clinton Administrations.
After his Hill experience, Guillermo returned to the media, hosting
his own talk show in Washington, D.C. on WRC Radio. He returned to
California where he hosted talk shows in San Francisco at KSFO/KGO,
and in Sacramento at KSTE/KFBK.
Guillermo's columns in the ethnic press inspired a roundtable
discussion program that he created, hosted, executive produced,
resulting in more than 100 original half-hour programs. "NCM-TV:
New California Media" was seen on PBS stations in San Francisco,
Sacramento and Los Angeles, and throughout the state on cable.
Guillermo also spent time as a newspaper reporter covering the poor
and the minority communities of California's Central Valley. His
writing and reporting on California's sterilization program on the
poor and minorities won him statewide and national journalism
In 2015, Guillermo received the prestigious Dr. Suzanne Ahn Award
for Civil Rights and Social Justice from the Asian American
Journalists Association. The award, named after the late Korean
American physician from Texas, recognizes excellence in the
coverage of civil rights and social justice issues in the Asian
American and Pacific Islander community.
Guillermo, a native San Franciscan, went to Lowell High School, and
graduated from Harvard College, where he was named Ivy Orator as
the class humorist.
Thanks for listening to Emil Amok's Takeout!