Growing up I knew my grandfather served for the Philippine government at one time.
I was one of those kids who are proud during show and tell class that my grandfather was a guerilla who fought side by side with the Americans during the Japanese ruling and even after fighting the communist rebellions.
Who wouldn’t be proud?
We are called a free country because of them. One way or another, the tears, sweat and blood that was shed during those times helped pave the way to what we all enjoy now called independence.
Independence, however way you look at it speaks for its’ own. Those veterans, who joined whole heartedly and left their family knowing they might not return, risked their lives for all of us, and so isn’t it just right that we give back to them?
Nowadays we have who we call modern heroes. We have the teachers, OFWs, etc, some even come from a number of government units, but are we to forget the ones who made a follow up who helped us to be where we are right now?
If Rizal, Bonifacio, Luna and others are called Philippine Heroes, where do the veterans fit in?
They sure are not modern day heroes.
Is that why they are cast aside? Is it because they no longer belong to the working class and don’t pay taxes? They don’t bring home remittances? They make use of what little the government can spare them without them giving something back? Isn’t it their lives in exchange for freedom enough payment for what they should be getting right now?
Yes, the veterans do have benefits but by God before they get it, they are either almost fainting because of the long wait and some have even gone 6 feet below the ground!
I do understand that perhaps the government is just being precautious since it does happen that some uses the name of the veterans to claim the benefit where in fact the person himself/herself is no longer living. Maybe they just have to make sure that it is them but still that does not mean you make the veterans grovel for their benefits.
Perhaps my grandfather should be thankful that since he dedicated himself to public service he was offered a US Citizenship which he gladly accepted for the family.
Sadly since he took advantage of it, the Philippine government decided to put a halt on his pension here since he is also now a US Citizen, a decree that the late Pres. Marcos signed.
It’s not like my grandfather stole it from them. He worked hard for it, made sacrifices for it. I am happy that my grandfather took advantage of the offered US Citizenship since it helped him a lot.
Last year he underwent a heart operation which thankfully was shouldered by the US government. Where in the world would my family get $100,000++ to pay for the bills? Even if we pawn all our properties even ourselves, we won’t be able to put up that amount of money.
If my grandfather hadn’t accept the offered citizenship, would he even still be alive given that all medications that he was and is currently taking is partially shouldered by the US government?
I will be honest, if my grandfather decided to forego that citizenship, we may not have him right now and my family owes this all to the US government.
Now my grandfather, 90 years of age, is in the US recuperating from the operation that was done on him last year, sent photos of him holding a recent news paper, proving that he is still alive since the PH government decided to put a stop on his benefits, a proof that he is still alive.
My grandmother who is 76 traveled alone from the US to the Philippines just to present this to Philippine Veterans Affairs Office for the hope that they will resume my grandfathers’ pension, but to no avail; only to be told that there are more documents that needs to be signed and presented by my lolo. My lola turned around in defeat.
MY poor grandparents who have lived for more than half a century and has witnessed the changing world is asked to “provide further documentation” and a “Balik na lang po kayo pag okay na” with nothing but 100 pesos in their pension bank account. My grandfather, who again and again, I will reiterate, risked his life for the freedom we all are enjoying right now was asked to come back once all documents are ready ( he is still in the US as I’ve mentioned recuperating from his operation).
I know it’s not only my family who is experiencing this; we have thousands of veterans begging for what is deemed and righteously theirs, but what if at the time they were fighting for our freedom they thought “Oh hell what am I doing here, I’ll just come back once I feel like it”, would we even be sitting in our seats right now? Are we even thinking of what to do this coming weekend?
I don’t think so, some of us may not even be alive.
No, I won’t be one of those hypocrites who grits their teeth in anger towards the US, for what was and was not done, then use imported goods as if their lives depend on it, let alone political figures who blatantly and outspokenly voice their hatred towards the said government then send their kids to an Ivy league college in the US.
My family will always be thankful to the US government, but don’t get me wrong, I love my country, this is where I was born and where I will die, but I guess I expected more just because this IS MY country and maybe that’s why it hurts more.
Sadly, if the people who offered their lives for the freedom of the Filipinos are treated this way, what else can we offer our country for us to be at least treated as equal?