Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembering Filipino World War 2 Veterans

November 11th Is Veterans Day.

Remembering the Forgotten U.S. War Veterans

A burial detail of Filipino prisoners of war uses improvised litters 
to carry fallen comrades at Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, 1942, 
following the Bataan Death March.  Emir214 Wikimedia Commons
Fact: 1941, the members of the Philippine Armed Forces who fought for the United States of America in World War II were U.S. nationals.

But surprisingly,  they were totally unrecognized and utterly forgotten, until 2009.

A Little History Lesson

Before World War II, the Philippines was a U.S. territory (much like Puerto Rico, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and other Pacific islands). They were since 1899.

Filipinos though have always wanted their independence, so in 1935, the United States agreed to the creation of the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. The plan was that for the next ten years, this transitional government will exist and on 1946 the Philippines will be granted their independence.


Most people must be reminded that the Philippines is the westernmost U.S. territory and just a short stop from Japan.

Both Japan and the United States were aware that whoever controlled the Philippines will have the advantage militarily in that part of the world.

With its strategic location and 7,100 islands it would be the perfect jumping point for attacking other countries in that part of the world. For the U.S., it would be the ideal location to stop that Japanese advance.

World War II

Then the bombing of Pearl Harbor happened in 1941 during which similar attacks by the Japanese Imperial forces were carried out in the Philippines, which of course wasn’t unexpected.

The United States was already slowly beefing up the Philippine Armed Forces for such an attack on the islands and on U.S. interests. The Japanese aggression since the 1930s is not lost to U.S. Top Brass, and they knew the Philippines would be a potential target.  But of course, protecting Europe from Nazi Germany is vastly more important than protecting the Philippines.

So when the island nation was finally thrust into World War II, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called on the members of the Philippine Commonwealth Army to join the war and fight the Japanese. FDR promised that they would be given all of the benefits of U.S. soldiers.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur formally inducting the Philippine Army Air Corps into 
United States Army Forces in the Far East ( Camp Murphy, Rizal Aug 15 1941).  
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
FDR called for the creation of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) Command which then absorbed the Philippine Army. These Filipino soldiers then fought for the United States under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. Thousands of others also served underground in guerilla units. 

All in all, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos trained, worked hard, fought for, sacrificed and gave up their lives for the United States of America alongside their American counterparts from 1941 until the end of the war.

The Payback

After the war, the U.S. Congress under President Truman decided that there simply weren’t enough money to give these “Filipino veterans” the benefits FDR promised them. 

The Rescission Act was passed in 1946 which (retroactively) annulled the benefits that would have been payable to Filipino veterans on account of their military service under the auspices of the United States, notwithstanding that during that time the Philippines was a U.S. territory and these Filipinos were U.S. nationals.

In other words, the Rescission Act of 1946 removed full benefits from the Filipino veteran and they have been unrecognized and completely forgotten for over 60 years.

Better Late Than Never

In February 2009, after decades of petitions in and out of the U. S., the United States enacted a law that provided for $198 million in one-time direct individual payments and more importantly official service recognition to Filipino World War II veterans

Under this payment program, Filipino veterans with U.S. citizenship will receive $15,000, while non-U.S. citizen Filipino veterans will receive $9,000 -- too little, too late, but still better than nothing.

But even though these amounts were a total disgrace and too late for those who have already passed away, the law and the payments made it official that these Filipino veterans were indeed U.S. War Veterans and deserve to be recognized and remembered every Veterans Day.

Narrated by Lou Diamond Phillips​​
Produced and Directed by Donald Plata
Written by Chris Schaefer

This is the story of a group of elite US Army soldiers who fought America's first major ground battle of the Second World War.

They were General MacArthur's best soldiers at the start of the conflict.
They were credited with being widely responsible for the prolonged siege of Bataan, an action that drained so much time and resources from Imperial Japan that it prevented the Japanese invasion of Australia.

Half of them were killed in action and in captivity.  Only a few survive today.  This documentary will honor these gallant men who gave so much for the cause of freedom.

They were the United States Army's Philippine Scouts, America's FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pinoys @ Pixar and Disney

If you are Filipino, don’t you ever wonder how it seems like every Pixar (or Disney) Animated Film feels so close to your heart? Most times you might feel like it's something you may have grew up watching. And it could feel so ordinary, you might think you are watching a local Filipino film.

Well stop wondering, this is all maybe because behind every one of these films, behind every lovable character, behind every setting, behind every facial expression, and behind every little nuisance is a Filipino (or Filipina).

The PixNoys

Yes Virginia, there are a lot of Filipinos working at Pixar Animation Studios (and Disney) and other Hollywood Animation Studies. At Pixar, they are even called by their moniker, the “Pixnoys” (short for Pixar Pinoys).

Let’s meet a few of them:

Virginia "Gini" Cruz Santos

Gini is a Filipina animator involved in a ton of Pixar films.

In “Toy Story 2” (1999), she did Woody and Jesse the Cowgirl (as an Animator).

In “Monsters, Inc.” (2001) she animated Sulley and Mike, (Layout Artist, Animator and Character Developer).

In “Finding Nemo” (2003) she made Dory come amazingly alive (Animator).

In “The Incredibles” (2004), she worked on Helen (Elastigirl), Dash, Violet, Frozone and Edna Mode, (Animator).

She also did animation for these popular animated films: “A Bug's Life”, “Cars”, “Toy Story 3”, “Up”, “Lifted”, “Brave” and “Wall-E”

She is probably well known for her portrayal of the family members of “The Incredibles” and of the lovable character of Dory in “Finding Nemo”.

Gini stated in an old interview that she injected the Filipino sense of humor and facial expressions, particularly for the character of Dory, which in Tagalog can only be described as “mali-mali”.

Gini finished Fine Arts, Majoring in Advertising from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Computer Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

All the other Pixnoys have said that their natural sense of humor and willingness in story telling was fully demonstrated and made a strong impact in many Pixar films especially that of  Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003) ,The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006) , Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), and Up (2009).
The Incredibles

Pixar (Disney) Filipino Trivia
  •  Nelson Bohol added a “bahay kubo” (a native Filipino hut) to an aquarium in one of the scenes of “Finding Nemo”.
  • Nelson also added a miniature volcano inside the aquarium which was inspired by the Philippines’ arguably most well-known volcano, Mt. Mayon.
  •  The name used for the fisherman in “Finding Nemo” is P. Sherman. “Pee-Sher-man” is how a typical Filipino would actually pronounce the word “fisherman”. The Filipino language does not include the letter F.
  • Monsters University’s library is called the “Bohol Hall”, of course it was named after Filipino Nelson Bohol who designed it.
  • In “The Incredible”, there is an island called “Nomanisan Island”. Only a Filipino would come up with and actually use a name like that. Get it? “No-man-is-an Island”.
  • It seems suspicious that the baby in “The Incredibles” is named Jack-Jack. Filipino nicknames and terms of endearment are normally single syllabled and repeated.
  • In much the same way, it is a bit odd that the dog in “Up” is named Dug. It isn’t a coincidence that certain Filipinos from the Southern and Middle part of the Philippines would actually pronounce dog as dug. And yes dogs normally dig up dirt.

Ronaldo “Ronnie” Del Carmen

Ronnie has worked in various capacities for Pixar, among them as Story Artist, Story Supervisor, Character Designer, Illustrator and of course as all around pest (his own words).

Before Pixar, he worked at Dreamworks and Warner Bros.

His films include:

The Inside Out (2015) (Co-director), Dug's Special Mission (2009) (Director/writer), Up (2009) (Story Supervisor), Wall-E (2008) (Story/Character Design), Ratatouille (2006) (Story), One Man Band (2005) (Production Design), Finding Nemo (2003) (Story Supervisor), Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) (Story Supervisor), Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) (Storyboard), The Road to El Dorado (2000) (Story Supervisor), The Prince of Egypt (1998) (Story), Freakazoid! (1995) (Director), Batman: The Animated Series (1991 to 95) (Storyboard, Character Design)

Ronnie was born in the Philippines in 1959 and graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Fine Arts. Incidentally he has two other brothers who also work in animation --  Louie, a Story Artist at DreamWorks Animation and Rick who works as a Storyboard Artist and Assistant Director at Fox Animation.

Dug's Special Mission (2009)
Pixar Short CGI Film  Directed by Ronnie Del Carmen

Ricky Vega Nierva

Ricky Nierva's been working for Pixar for a long time. On one of his new films "Up" where he was the Production Designer, he introduced Pixar's first major Asian-American character -- Russell, the wilderness explorer.  Pixar casted an Asian kid to play Russell.

Among his Pixar credits are : "Toy Story 2" (1999), "Monsters, Inc. (2001)", "Finding Nemo (2003) and "Up" (2009).

Ricky was born in the United States to Filipino parents from Camarines Sur. He graduated from the Cal Arts in Valencia, California. 

Nelson "Rey" Bohol

Nelson has a long list of films he was involved in including "Monsters University" (2013), "Toy Story of Terror" (2013 TV Short), "Brave" (2012), "Wall·E" (2008), "Ratatouille" (2007) and "Cars" (2006).

In fact, he has over 31 films credited to him by the IMDb website.

Several Filipino Pixar bits of trivia is attributed to Bohol. It might not be coincidental because he probably may be one the biggest Filipino names in Pixar today, and having worked there the longest wouldn't hurt.

He designed the idyllic town of Radiator Springs in the movie "Cars" and have worked in many past animated favorites such as several "Rugrats" films, "Anastasia" and "Titan A.E."

Chris Chua

Chris is a young Filipino American animator who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2-D Animation from Cal Arts. , explained the look of “Wall-E,” which is unlike other Pixar movies: It is monochromatic at times and has almost no dialogue in some scenes—an animator’s dream, or nightmare.

Chris was born in Manila to a Chinese father (William Chua) and a half-Filipino mother (Juliet), and finally moved to the United States at a young age.

His other work include animations in the Dreamworks’ films: “Sinbad”, “Shark Tale” and “Flushed Away”.

Other Filipino Animators Include:

Ruben Aquino, a Filipino who worked at Disney as Art Director, Animator and Supervising Animator.

His animated credits include Dr. Dawson (The Great Mouse Detective, 1986), Fagin (Oliver & Company, 1987), Ursula (The Little Mermaid, 1989), Maurice (Beauty and the Beast, 1991), Mc Leach (The Rescuers Down Under, 1992), Adult Simba (The Lion King, 1995), Powahatan (Pocahontas, 1996), Li Shang, Fa Li (of Mulan, 1998), and Pacha (Kingdom of the Sun, 2000).

His filmography includes, Tarzan (1999), Fantasia (2000), Lilo and Stich (2002), Brother Bear (2003) and Meet the Robinsons (2000).

He won an award at the 6th Annual International Animated Society’s Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for Character Animation of Shang (in Mulan, 1998).

Mars Cabrera is an Animator, Layout Artist and Storyboard Artist in Vancouver, Canada. Among the companies he worked for were Wildbrain, Dreamworks TV, Walt Disney TV, Hahn Film, Nelvana and Cinar. He was a two-time daytime Emmy winner for his work on “Arthur” the TV series.
His filmography includes: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Silverwing”, “Joseph, King of Dreams”, “Sabrina” the TV series, “The Mask” and “Pirates of Dark Water”.
He is a graduate of Fine Arts from the University of Santo Tomas.

Ralph Fernan is an Animator at Walt Disney’s and is the Filipino behind Chicken Little. His filmography includes: “The Pagemaster”, “Once Upon a Forest”, “Quest for Camelot” (1998), “The Iron Giant” (1999), “The Tigger Movie” (2000), “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” (2000), “Eight Crazy Nights” (2002) and “Chicken Little” (2005).

Ralph is a Fine Arts graduate from the University of the East, Manila.

Armand Serrano is a Visual Development Artist at Sony Pictures Animation. He worked with Sony’s very first animated feature, “Surf’s Up” (2007).  He was also involved in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009) and “Open Season 2” (2009).

He previously worked at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios.
Armand’s film credits include “Mulan” (1998), Tarzan (1999), “Lilo & Stich” (2002), and “Brother Bear” (2003).

Armand finished Civil Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas.

Anthony Ocampo worked at Stargate Digital, a visual effects studio where he won a Visual Effects Society Award in Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Televised Program, Music Video or Commercial, for his Trojan horse work on the USA Network Productions special, “Helen of Troy”.

Anthony is a fine arts graduate from the University of the Philippines.

Among the Awards of Pixnoys Include:

For “Finding Nemo”

Ricky Nierva - Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Feature Production         

Gini Santos (nominated) - Outstanding Character Animation, The American Screenwriters Association

Gini Santos - Outstanding Character Animation in an Animated Motion Picture (for "Speaking Whale"), Visual Effects Society Awards

For “Cars”

Carlos Baena and Bobby Podesta (nominated) - Best Character Animation in a Feature

For “Ratatouille”
Pixar Won Best Animated Feature

For “Wall-E”

Ronaldo Del Carmen (nomintated) - Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production, Annie Awards

For “Monsters, Inc.”

Ricky Nierva - Outstanding Character Design in an Animated Feature Production, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films

For “Monsters University”
Ricky Nierva (nominated) - Production Design in an Animated Feature Production, Annie Awards

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