Castillo’s film on Filipino vets highlights upcoming film festival

The stories of World War II veterans from the 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments will be told in the film “An Untold Triumph,” which will be shown at the Hawaii International Film Festival on Kaua’i on Sunday, Nov. 10.

The film festival kicks off Nov. 1 on O’ahu, and films will be shown here from Nov. 8 – 10 at the Kaua’i Community College Performing Arts Center.

Stephanie Castillo, a writer and associate producer of “An Untold Truth,” was born in Honolulu and raised on Kaua’i.

The film documents the storytelling of veterans and war brides, including one Kaua’i-raised veteran, Domingo Los Banos, who was drafted into the Army and later transferred to the 1st Regiment of “the Fil.”

“Although the Philippines was a U.S. colony, heavy anti-Asian sentiment at the time against Filipinos had resulted in their reclassification as immigrant aliens,” said the “Untold Triumph” Web site.

On Jan. 2, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order forming the regiments, promising American citizenship to those who were recruited.

More than 7,000 immigrants and second-generation Filipinos from Hawaii and throughout the United States signed up. The 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments were deactivated in 1946.

As part of General Douglas MacArthur’s strategy to reoccupy the Philippines after being forced out in 1942, he handpicked about 700-800 Filipino soldiers to act as “Mission Men” for the Allied Intelligence Bureau.

The guerillas were sent by submarine to infiltrate the country as part of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion from 1943 to 1945.

Soldiers of “The Fil” also did combat and “mop-up” operations in New Guinea, Leyte, Samar, Luzon and the southern Philippines.

The 1st Regiment made up part of the U.S. Sixth Army “Alamo Scouts” reconnaissance team, who traveled 30 miles behind enemy lines in January 1945 to free 500 Allied prisoners from the Cabanatuan prisons after the Bataan Death March.

“An Untold Triumph” has been in the works since 1995. Domingo Los Banos, also a former state school superintendent, and Linda Revilla, a former University of Hawai’i ethnic studies professor, partnered with Castillo and Washington, D.C. filmmaker Noel “Sonny” Izon to create a documentary of the storytellers.

Los Banos was the son of a “Five Star Mother,” one who had five sons serving in World War II. He performed mop-up duties in the Philippines after the war was over, which included finding and burying bodies, Castillo said. When other soldiers took “war souvenirs” from the bodies of Japanese soldiers, Los Banos cut a necklace from around one’s neck. The locket-type charm contained a family photo and a lock of hair, probably from the man’s wife or daughter.

Castillo’s late father, Wallace, was one of the second-generation “Hawaii boys” who was an officer in the Counter Intelligence Corps of the 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiment.

Like many soldiers, Castillo’s father brought back to Hawai’i a Philippine war bride. Castillo’s mother, Norma, still lives on Kaua’i. Wallace, who remained an Army man since first joining up, passed away in 1981 on Kaua’i.

Castillo has been developing television documentaries since 1989. She won an EMMY Award for her 1992 documentary “Simple Courage,” a co-production with Hawaii Public Television. Her 1993 short documentary OPERA!, produced in 1993 for HPTV, was awarded a CINE Golden Eagle. In 2001, Castillo’s DV Cam video “Cockfighters” was entered in several film festivals.

“An Untold Triumph” is scheduled to play at the KCC Performing Arts Center at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. admission is $7. Schedule subject to change. Call Kauai film festival coordinator Alonzo Greer at 823-8444 or 383-1021 for more information.


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