FilAm vet, worker for benefits, dies

WASHINGTON –Filipino American World War II veteran Guillermo Obedoza Rumingan, recognized by US presidents, and known to the community as Manong Emong, died (March 27), a victim of abdominal aneurysm. He was 86.

Retired US Army General Antonio M. Taguba, noted for the Taguba Report on maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners, knew Rumingan personally in their lobbying efforts for veterans’ pension benefits.

He commented Wednesday: “Recognized by three US Presidents–Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama–Sergeant First Class Rumingan was the fierce warrior who gained their full attention on the plight of his fellow veterans.”
“For over fifty years, he tirelessly assisted his fellow veterans in pursuit of their compensation and benefits up to time of his untimely death,” he added.

Despite difficulty in walking, personally and as service officer of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans (ACFV), for years he researched on official records of individual veterans at the National Archives showing their war service. He successfully obtained equity pension and healthcare benefits for most of them.

In 1999, Clinton invited Rumingan to the signing ceremony of the “Special Veterans Benefit.” In 2003, Bush asked him to witness the signing of Filipino Veterans Health bill in the Oval Office. In 2010, on the invitation of President Obama and First Lady Michele Obama, Rumingan and his comrade, Amadeo Urbano, attended the Veterans Day breakfast in the White House.
In 2004, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History included his story and photo as part of their permanent exhibit, “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.” Then 18, the guerrilla’s photo was displayed underneath the photograph of General Douglas MacArthur’s landing in Leyte .

Said Marites Cardenas Branigin, community and media outreach director of the National Coalition of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), based in this US capital: “He helped pave the way for starting the Office of Veterans Affairs at the Philippine embassy in D.C. by suggesting the idea to government and veterans’ officials who come to the US to lobby for war claims,” she said.

He did this while serving as their volunteer driver and tour guide, and generously opening his home to many of them.
When an office finally opened under President Cory Aquino, he worked in its staff as driver and researcher.

Retired Gen. Delfin N. Lorenzana, head of the office of Veterans Affairs at the Philippine embassy, said Wednesday there would be a tribute to Rumingan at the Bataan Day program on April 9.

During the war, Rumingan joined the guerrillas of the 201 Squadron of Capt. Juan Pajota of the Central Nueva Ecija Military Area and under the overall command of Maj. Robert Lapham of the Luzon Guerrilla Armed Forces.

ACFV volunteer executive director Eric Lachica said Wednesday: “Rumingan worked till the very end. Last week, he accompanied and counsele

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