December 7, 1941, is etched as a day of infamy, commemorated every year as a national memorial for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the following day, December 8, 1941, marks another significant but often overlooked chapter in World War II history—the Japanese assault on the Philippines, a U.S. territory at the time.
The international time zone difference and the Philippines’ status as a lesser-known U.S. possession on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean have overshadowed its place in the narrative. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his historic speech, omitted any mention of the Philippines, focusing solely on the “date which will live in infamy” at Pearl Harbor.
Despite being outnumbered, under-equipped, and poorly trained, Filipino soldiers displayed remarkable courage and resilience against the Japanese invasion. Half of them died in battle and during the Japanese occupation. Those who survived endured not only physical injuries but also the pain of betrayal when the U.S. Congress passed the 1946 Rescission Acts, stripping them of promised rights and benefits.
Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) has been at the forefront of ensuring the sacrifices of these heroes are not forgotten. In a historic move, legislation was secured on Nov. 30, 2016, granting the Congressional Gold Medal to American and Filipino veterans of World War II. A special ceremony on Oct. 25, 2017, saw Congress bestow the highest civilian award, finally giving long-overdue recognition more than 70 years after their service.
As we commemorate December 7 and 8, FilVetREP urges the nation to remember the forgotten battle in the Philippines.