fil-am war veteran[box type=”default” size=”large”] Her daughter in PHL needs help to facilitate her travel to Chicago [/box]

CHICAGO – During World War II, a young Filipino, who could not be suspected by the Japanese soldiers as a spy for American Allied Forces because he was just a teenager, died here recently at the age of 88.

But the body of Filipino veteran Amado Bartolome could not be retrieved from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s morgue in Chicago, Illinois because there was no relative to claim his remains.

Lito Pier, a friend of Bartolome since 1966, told this reporter that if he informs  Bartolome’s wife, Josefina Bartolome, 87, who is in frail health and sickly, of his death, Mrs. Bartolome’s condition might worsen.

Midwest Philippine Consulate General’s Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel Jr. said after contacting the children of Bartolome in the Philippines, he learned that his daughter wants to travel to Chicago “to personally handle the burial arrangement.”

But Bartolome’s daughter needs the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila to expedite the processing of her travel documents. The DFA needs to coordinate with the Veterans Affairs Office of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. so it can get an update on Bartoleme’s application for veteran’s benefits pending in the Chicago Regional Veterans Affairs Office. It also needs the help of the U.S. Embassy in Manila in expediting the issuance of the daughter’s travel visa to Chicago.

Deputy Consul General Israel said that because Bartolome had become a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009, the Philippine Consulate is now coordinating with U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky of the ninth district where Bartolome had resided, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin and community leader and former AFIRE Executive Director and Skokie, Illinois Park District Commissioner Jerry B. Clarito and the Filipino American community in the efforts to collect possible burial assistance from the U.S. government.

If the daughter of Bartolome could not make it to Chicago, the Philippine Consulate is asking permission from Bartolome’s surviving spouse and children to give the Consulate permission to get additional details concerning the deceased.

Only relatives of the deceased are authorized to get a death certificate and bury the remains.

Bartolome and his wife live in a seniors’ high-rise building in Edgewater, on Chicago’s North Side. Together, they survive on $13,000 a year in social security benefits and a pension he receives from a job he held at University Illinois at Chicago. The most death benefit from U.S. Social Security Administration that he could receive is $255.

He did not receive a monthly military compensation that his injury would entitle him to because he has not been able to prove his service to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The same situation is true to Filipino WW II veterans across the U.S. as well as the Philippines.

In 2013, Bartolome was interviewed by Odette Yousef of WBEZ.91.5 radio program. During the interview, Bartolome recounted his experiences as a Filipino guerrilla. He said he had helpe U.S. troops find and capture Japanese soldiers who fled to the mountains of East Central Luzon. “If I werenot the one scouting, maybe thousands or hundreds American soldiers (might have) died.”

Although only about 15 or 16 years old when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Bartolome became a member of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 31st  Infantry Regiment BMD, ECLGA but his name could not be found in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

As a result, he did not receive the lump sum of $15,000 that each Filipino veteran, who became U.S. citizen, receives under the Stimulus bill signed by President Obama in 2009. ([email protected])

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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