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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 29, 2002

Tale of Filipino bravery about to be told

By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer

Domingo Los Banos, Pearl City retiree and World War II veteran, figures there must be about 100 old soldiers who share his proud history but don't know there's a film that tells their story.

Two men from Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment eventually became lawmakers: Peter Aduja, front left, a former state senator; and next to him Ben Menor, who became a state senator and associate justice of the state Supreme Court. The 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments once had 300 members living in Hawai'i.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Castillo

Los Banos is an adviser to the producers of "An Untold Triumph: The Story of the 1st & 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments." The nearly completed documentary is due for a world premiere here in November, and Los Banos wants to make sure that as many of the veterans as possible will attend.

There were once 300 members of the regiments living in Hawai'i. Los Banos has a list of about 100, the roster from the regiments' Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Another 100 veterans, he said, have died.

"One of the people we interviewed for the film, Orlando Valentin, died two weeks ago," Los Banos said. "That's why the search for their widows, too, is important."

The documentary was produced for PBS by filmmakers Stephanie Castillo of Honolulu and Noel "Sonny" Izon of Washington, D.C. It will air on PBS affiliates, including KHET, sometime in the spring, but a first screening will be at 6:30 p.m.

Nov. 4 at the Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall as part of the Hawaii International Film Festival.

Survivors are being sought to attend the premiere and a reception in their honor. Widows or their families also are invited to contact the filmmakers.

Castillo signed on to help with the project seven years ago, never realizing her own father was part of the 2nd Regiment and that her mother was brought home from the Philippines as a war bride.

"I looked at this and thought, 'Great Filipino story! We need to tell our history,' " Castillo said. "To find out my parents were part of this story was pretty amazing."

"An Untold Triumph," now undergoing final editing, is narrated by actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who is part Filipino. The film still is short of money, Castillo said: Producers are seeking grants to cover the remaining $60,000 of the $500,000 needed to finish it.

But Izon vowed to his father, another regimental veteran, that the story be told, Castillo said, and he is determined to finish it, even if he has to advance the money himself.

"He made this deathbed promise to his dad," she said, "so he's committed."

The film will tour the Neighbor Islands during the film festival, which starts Nov. 10, and screenings are set for Nov. 17 in Sacramento, Calif., and Jan. 30 at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Regimental members, most of them teens when they were drafted or volunteered, received basic training at Schofield Barracks or on the Mainland before being assigned to assist Gen. Douglas MacArthur in retaking the Philippines from the Japanese.

Regimental members or their families can contact Domingo Los Banos of Pearl City, 456-2329, or at Lbdom@hotmail.com.

Alternative contacts:

• Jose Saromine – 595-3099

• Lucio Sanico – 672-9833

• Michael Mandac -- 668-7208

• Thomas Otegero – 455-8881

• Behic Severino – 621-6964

• Gapol Geraldo – 455-2105

Reach Vicki Viotti at vviotti@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8053.