CHICAGO (jGLi) – At the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Fall of Bataan, the dwindling Filipino World War II veterans became even fewer with the death two weeks ago of another veteran, who had been in the forefront in the lobbying effort for the advocacy of veterans benefits in the Capitol Hill.
The life and times of Sgt. Guillermo O. Rumingan, 86, were celebrated during a gathering in the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. at the Bataan Day of Valor commemoration program last April 9 with a tribute delivered by a veteran veteran advocate, Eric Lachica, volunteer executive director of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. that Mr. Rumingan co-founded.
On hand to listen to the tribute to Mr. Rumingan were his surviving family members led by his widow, Febe Rumingan, and their son, Dr. Fred Rumingan (U.S. Army), who received a folded Philippine flag from Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.. Also on hand were his comrades, Celestino Almeda, 94, Mr. Ray Cabacar, 84 and Mr. Potenciano Dee, 86 and B/Gen. Cesar Yano, Philippine Army defense attaché.
Rumingan, a guerilla under the 201st Squadron of Capt. Pajota of the Central Nueva Ecija Military Area and under the overall command of Maj. Robert Lapham of the Luzon Guerilla Armed Forces, had been a constant companion of Mr. Patrick Ganio, Sr., his province mate from Nueva Ecija and Atty. Amadeo Ubano, who together formed a core, which organized a Philippine Veterans Office in the in the old Embassy building during the time of Ambassador Nicanor Jimenez, the UP ROTC hero.
AN ILLEGAL ALIEN WHO BECAME U.S. CITIZEN VIA A PRIVATE BILL
Under the name of Filipino Veterans and Families Foundation, the group with the help of Fil Am Atty. Ben Maynigo won over the support of Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez, DFA Secretary Raul Manglapus and President Cory Aquino in passing the Filipino veterans naturalization bill in 1990.
Rumingan had also helped a lot of newly-arrived Filipino veteran immigrants in D.C. while he joined countless lobbying meetings with Congressmen, Senators and staff in pushing the Filipino veterans benefits agenda.
A prisoner of war himself, Rumingan took pride in his fidelity to his comrades by not squealing information that would put their lives in jeopardy.
A member of the New Philippine Scout for the U.S. Army at the end of the war, Rumingan stunned Congress members during one of his lobbying efforts when he told them that he was an illegal alien for years, long after he arrived as a tourist in the country in the 60’s.
Using his U.S. Army military ID as his badge, Rumingan was able to talk to a powerful U.S. Senator into passing a private bill that declared him a U.S. citizen.
He has been generous by opening his wallet when the lobby group was taking their lunch or spending for gasoline in the Capitol Hill.
FOUGHT FOR VETERANISM UNTIL HIS DYING DAY
Even until his dying days, Rumingan has been fighting for the full recognition of the Filipino WW II veterans.
He helped comrades in searching for U.S. Army documents at the National Archives of the U.S. Army, among them Mr. Almeda. Together with Almeda, Rumingan and Lachica appeared before a judge of the Veterans Board of Appeals three weeks ago to overturn a U.S. Army policy withholding copies of certain Army documents that could prove the U.S. military service of Mr. Almeda.
Almeda is one of about 24,000 Filipino veterans, whose claims for the Filipino Equity Compensation Fund were rejected by the U.S. Veterans Administration because their names could not be located in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Under the Fund, $15,000 lump sum benefit would be given to a veteran, who is a U.S. citizen, and $9,000 for non-U.S. citizens
Emong Rumingan was one of those Filipino veterans who created a buzz in 1996 when they were arrested after they chained themselves to the fence of the White House, protesting the U.S. Army policy of concealing the records from the Filipino veterans triggered by the effects of the Rescission Acts of 1946. He spent a few hours in jail with fellow protester, Congressman Bob Filner.
And his protest attracted the attention of the White House as he has been welcomed as guest by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama to recognize his efforts for veteran advocacies.
Born on Dec. 27, 1925 in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Rumingan was processed on October 31, 1945 with a USAFFE serial number Philippine Army 207231 and was honorably discharged as sergeant on February 20, 1946.
On March 1, 1946, Rumingan enlisted as a Private with ASN PS10308671in the New Philippine Scouts, US Army. He retired as a Sergeant First Class due to a permanent physical disability on March 31, 1951. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
FilVet Sgt. Guillermo Rumingan executes a “Rumingan Salute”.
Sgt. Guillermo O. Rumingan shakes the hand of former President George Bush when he was guest at the White House, lobbying for Filipino veterans benefits, while Rep. Bob Filner looks on. (White House Photo)
Dr. Fred Rumingan (US Army, left) and his mother, Mrs. Febe Rumingan,widow of Sgt. Guillermo O. Rumingan, receive a folded Philippine flag
from Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. as B/Gen. Cesar Yano (Philippine Army) defense attache looks on during the Bataan Day of Valor commemoration program in the Washington, D.C. Philippine Embassy last April 9, 2012. (ACFV photo)