Panelists. (L-R) Dr. Richard Meixsel; Lieutenant Colonel James Kelly Morningstar; Mr. Sonny Busa; and panel moderator Jon Melegrito during the panel discussion of Istorya DC 2019.


23 October 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippine Embassy, in partnership with The Rita M. Cacas Foundation, Inc., the Philippines on the Potomac Project (POPDC), the US-Philippines Society, and the Filipino Young Professionals of Washington DC (FYP-DC) hosted the 2019 Istorya DC symposium at the Philippine Embassy Chancery Annex on 22 October 2019.

This year’s Istorya commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Leyte Landing or more popularly known to many as US General Douglas MacArthur’s “return” to the Philippines – landing in Leyte Gulf – to start the campaign to recapture and liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation during World War II. 

Various displays showing significant historical accounts through pictures and posters filled the social hall of the Chancery Annex for the guests to read and reflect on.

The highlight of the celebration is a panel discussion featuring speakers who shared their in-depth knowledge and historical perspective on the significant occasion. They are Dr. Richard Meixsel, Professor of Military History at the James Madison University; Lieutenant Colonel James Kelly Morningstar (Ret.), a historian and a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Center for Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College; and Mr. Sonny Busa, a retired US State Department diplomat and former US Army infantry officer. Community advocate Jon Melegrito served as the moderator of the discussion.

“Tonight’s panel discussion will allow us to look into the ‘Filipino perspective’ of the Leyte landing through our line-up of esteemed speakers. But more than the discussion, it is our hope that tonight’s celebration would remind us that the close ties we enjoy today were forged in the sacrifice and blood of courageous Filipinos and Americans who fought shoulder-to-shoulder to defend freedom and democracy. May this gathering also remind us of our shared responsibility to ensure that Philippines-US relations will continue to endure and prosper in the years to come,” Consul General Renato Pedro Villa told the audience in his opening remarks.

US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson and FYP-DC Vice President for Membership Carolina Ramirez also delivered a few words prior to the panel discussion. Krystle Canare, President of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities (PAFC), served as the emcee of the entire program.

Rita Cacas, the main proponent of Istorya DC, likewise addressed the audience and highlighted that this year’s event is dedicated to the memories of two (2) beloved DC Filipinas who were both stalwarts of the Filipino-American community – Elvi Garcia Bangit and Maria Bello Cacas. She likewise expressed her utang na loob(debt of gratitude) to everyone who helped make this year’s Istorya event possible.

The engaging panel discussion touched on various interesting topics such as the significance of Leyte province in General MacArthur’s landing, the difference between the Normandy landing and the Leyte landing, the decision of US President Roosevelt to authorize General MacArthur’s campaign in the Pacific including to liberate the Philippines, and the impact of the Rescission Act of 1946 to Filipino World War II veterans. Several members of the audience also had the chance to ask questions to the panelists in a brief Q&A portion. 

“The most important issue for me is that ‘did the battle of Leyte impact the lives of the Filipino and American families then and today?’” said Major General Antonio Taguba (Ret), Chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) in his closing remarks. He stressed the importance of preserving the history and fighting for the recognition that these Filipino and American World War II veterans deserve.

A simple Filipino reception courtesy of Manila Mart also took place prior to the program.

Filipino-American History Month is celebrated in the United States during the month of October to commemorate and recognize the many ways by which Filipino-Americans have contributed significantly to American History. 

Istorya DC is an annual, educational gathering during the month of October to celebrate Filipino American History Month and Archives Month.###

23 October 2019

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Philippine Embassy Consul General Renato Pedro Villa delivers opening remarks at the Istorya DC 2019.

23 October 2019

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Rita M. Cacas highlights Istorya DC’s fifth year anniversary and expressed appreciation to partners of the Istorya event.

23 October 2019

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Q&A session with the audience

23 October 2019

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Group photo of the team behind the successful 2019 Istorya DC event, with Consul General Renato Pedro Villa (3rd from left, back row), speakers and panelists.

23 October 2019

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Filipino World War II veteran Rey Cabacar was also present during the Istorya DC event.