Friday 19th January 2018,

Bad Ass Asians

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Filipino Role in WWII to Be Included in California Textbooks

posted by Randall
Jose Calugas

The story of how Sgt. Jose Calugas of the Philippine Scouts, a U.S. Army unit, earned the U.S. Medal of Honor
may be included in California’s new textbooks.

By Ed Diokno

Years before last month’s passage of AB2016, which mandated the teaching of ethnic studies in California schools, AB199 was passed in the state legislature to require teaching the role of Filipinos and Filipino Americans played in World War II.

Although approved by the state legislature in 2011, it was not until July of this year that State Board of Education approved the curriculum that would teach this largely ignored topic in California classrooms because of the tendency of most U.S. school books to view history through an Eurocentric persepctive.WWII 75th Anniversary Events

In 2014, the Bataan Legacy Historical Society (BLHS) started working with the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) of the California Department of Education to implement AB199.

RELATED: Ethnic studies mandated for California schools

With the support of State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, BLHS was able to expand the scope of the proposed curriculum framework to include World War II in the Philippines. On May 19, 2016, the IQC’s History Social Sciences Committee approved all of the recommendations made by BLHS.

Torlakson is married to Mae Cendana Torlakson, who is seeking to become California’s first Filipina American Assembly member in this November’s election.

Chapter 16 of the 11th Grade U.S. History will include the following:

  • The Philippine Commonwealth; the creation of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) comprised of Americans and a majority of Filipinos;
  • the disruption of the timetable of the Imperial Japanese Army by the USAFFE Forces despite suffering from massive disease and starvation and fighting without any air support;
  • The Bataan Death March and the thousands of casualties; the role of the Filipino and American guerrillas during the liberation;
  • The American soldiers who were transported in hell ships to labor camps in Asia;
  • The Battles of Leyte Gulf;
  • The destruction of Manila during a month-long battle to liberate the city, which resulted in a death toll comparable to that of the Tokyo firebombing or the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and inflicted more damage than the Luftwaffe bombing of London.
Battle of Manila

After the WWII Battle of Manila, there was almost nothing left to liberate


It is believed that this will  be the first time that the Filipino role in fighting WWII in the Philippines will be taught to high school students in the United States.

California’s new history curriculum framework has the potential to act as a model for teaching this seminal point of WWII history in the U.S. BLHS has formed a curriculum steering committee to create a sample template that schools can use to implement Chapter 16 of the Grade 11 U.S. History.


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  1. RP Muriera says:

    RE: Filipino role in WWII to be included in California textbooks: CORRECTION: Assemblymember Rob Bonta is the FIRST Filipino American elected to the California Legislature. Mae Cendana Torlakson, if elected, will be the first FILIPINA American elected to the California Legislature.

    1. Randall says:

      RE: Filipino role in WWII to be included in California textbooks: Absolutely, you are correct. It is corrected.

  2. Rodrigo L. dela Concepcion says:

    RE: Filipino role in WWII to be included in California textbooks:
    Great to read your comments on this critical issue in California Education History Curriculum. I’m involved with BLHS and the PSHS. You should send a picture of you father in uniform to the PSHS and they will make a tribute page for him. I sent them a picture of my Dad’s CO picture that the Fil-Am Association of Pittsburg had on their tribute page for old Scouts. They made a tribute page for him. Look at their website and you can see it. The PSHS will be having it’s 33rd Reunion in the SF Bay Area in 2017 (July or August). It would be great to see you and some other of the Pittsburg Scout families attend this celebration of our fathers.
    If you’re interested contact me through Dulce Basco Willis, in Fresno, or by email.
    Thanks, “Scouts Out!”
    Rodrigo L. dela Concepcion Jr.
    LTC, INF, USAR Retired
    “Our Strength is in Loyalty”, motto, 26th Cavalry Regiment (PS)

  3. RE: Filipino role in WWII to be included in California textbooks: I want to thank Mrs. Cecilia I. Gaerlan of the Bataan Legacy, for her work in getting the enormous project to fruition. Cecilia is also a life member of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society (PSHS). website: As National President Emeritus of the PSHS , it’s an honor to see my father, Capt. Jose Calugas, Sr. PS, of the 88th FA . This is a tribute to all Filipino veterans and their contributions during WWII in the Philippines.

    Jose C. Calugas, Jr.
    National President Emeritus PSHS

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