(Clockwise from top left) Kirby Araullo, Captain Ronald Ravelo, and Professor Jeffrey Acosta discuss the contributions of Filipinos in the US Navy

29 OCTOBER 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippine Embassy successfully concluded its month-long celebration of Filipino American History Month with its webinar entitled “Life at Sea: Filipinos in the US Navy” held on 28 October 2021 via Zoom and FB Live.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez highlighted how the many years of Filipino service in the US Navy remains as an important aspect of the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and the United States. He further emphasized the contributions of these servicemen today including in the US fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Filipino Americans in the U.S. Navy still display modern-day acts of heroism in service. They do this by fulfilling important roles including shaping Navy Medicine through their numerous contributions as leaders, healthcare providers, medical administrators, and scientists. Understandably like all other nations, the US healthcare system was in desperate need of various material and human resources especially when the COVID-19 pandemic started. And true to the common navy saying ‘Not self but country’ they immediately answered the call to serve at the frontlines despite the obvious risks… we thank you for your service,” said the Ambassador. 

The webinar featured Professor Jeffrey Acosta, adjunct instructor of US history at Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Virginia and an active member of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) in the Hampton Roads. His presentation dived into the long and rich history of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the U.S. Navy as early as the American Civil War, Spanish American War, and during and after World War II.

The second speaker, Captain Ronald Ravelo, USN (Ret.) talked about the life of Fireman Second Class Telesforo Trinidad who is the only Filipino American in the U.S. Navy to receive a Medal of Honor – the highest American military decoration bestowed by the US government – for his extraordinary heroism in his line of profession when he bravely rescued two crew members when their ship, the USS San Diego caught fire in 1915. Capt. Ravelo is the chair of the USS Telesforo Trinidad Campaign (USSTTC) whose vision is to promote national awareness of Trinidad’s heroic sacrifice and instill pride and honor to the U.S. Navy, Filipino American sailors, and the Filipino American community.

During the Q&A segment, both speakers fielded various questions including on the impact brought by Filipino Americans in the U.S. Navy, contributions of the U.S. Navy to the development of Philippine Navy, and how Filipino Americans can help in the modernization of the Philippine Navy and galvanize support for the USSTTC. They also highlighted the gaps in official records showcasing Filipino servicemen in the different branches of US military service at different points in history. It is hoped that scholars would be able to fill this void and add to the rich history of Filipinos in the United States. 

Mr. Kirby Araullo, a Filipino American historian, author, and the Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies at the University of California, Davis served as the moderator of the event.

In 2009, U.S. Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month in commemoration of the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States. It also serves an opportunity to learn more about Filipino Americans and their historic contributions to the nation. ###