CHICAGO (JGL) – A Filipino teenager, who could not be suspected by Japanese soldiers as a spy for American Allied soldiers during World War II in the Philippines because of his age and who may have saved the lives of “thousands or hundreds of American soldiers,” had died last week.
However, the body of that teenager, now that of 88-year-old Filipino veteran Amado Bartolome, could not be retrieved from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s morgue in Chicago, Illinois because there was no relative available to claim his remains.
Lito Pier, a friend of Bartolome since 1966, told this reporter that if he will inform Bartolome’s wife, Josefina, 87, who is in frail health and sickly, of his death, her condition might even get worse.
Midwest Philippine Consulate General’s Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr. said after contacting the children of Bartolome in the Philippines, he learned that Bartolome’s daughter wants to travel to Chicago “to personally handle the burial arrangement.”
But Bartolome’s daughter would need the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila to expedite her trip, including coordinating with the Veterans Affairs Office of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. to get an update on Bartoleme’s application for veterans benefits pending in the Chicago Regional Veterans Affairs office, and the U.S. Embassy in Manila, which could expedite issuance of her travel visa to Chicago.
BARTOLOME, A U.S. NATURALIZED CITIZEN
Deputy Consul General Israel said that because Bartolome had become a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 2009, the Philippine Consulate is now coordinating with U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky, who lives within Rep. Schakowsky’s district, and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin and community leader and former AFIRE Executive Director and Skokie, Illinois Park District Commissioner Jerry B. Clarito on the possible burial assistance from the U.S. government. Mr. Bartolome lives at the 4900 Block of North Sheridan Rd. in Chicago.
If the daughter of Bartolome could not make it to Chicago, the Philippine Consulate is asking permission from Bartlome’s surviving spouse and children to give the Consulate permission to get additional details concerning the deceased veteran.
Only relatives of the deceased can get the Death Certificate and bury the deceased.
APPEAL TO SEN. DURBIN, REP. SCHAKOWSKY
Advocates and friends of Bartolome are also seeking the help of Durbin and Schakowsky to request the U.S. Embassy in Manila facilitate the issuance of visas for the daughter or children to travel to Chicago and bury the Filipino veteran in Chicago area.
Bartolome and his wife live in a seniors high rise in Edgewater, on Chicago’s North Side. Together, they survive on $13,000 a year in Social Security benefits and a pension he receives from a job he held at UIC. The most death benefit that he could receive is $255.
He does not receive a monthly military compensation that his injury would entitle him to, because he has not been able to prove his service to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The same has been true for Filipino WWII veterans across the U.S., as well as the Philippines.
In an interview with Odette Yousef of WBEZ.91.5 radio program in 2013, Bartolome recounted his time as a Filipino guerrilla, helping U.S. troops find and capture Japanese soldiers who fled into the mountains of East Central Luzon. “If I am not the one scouting, maybe thousands or hundreds American soldiers [would have] died.”
Although only about 15 or 16 years old when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Bartolome became a member of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment BMD, ECLGA his name could not be located in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
As a result, he did not receive the lump sum $15,000 that a Filipino veteran, who became U.S. Citizen, can receive under the Stimulus bill signed by President Obama in 2009.