Filipinas Heritage Library and Rick Rocamora Uplift Filipino WW2 Veterans In Virtual Exhibit - Arts & Culture

Done with Howie Severino and accessible through Google Arts and Culture, A Long Road To Dignity showcases the lives of those who have fought on behalf of a country not their own.

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Rocamora has authored four books, including Filipino WWII Soldiers: America’s Second Class Veterans. Photo by Rick Rocamora

The Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) is partnering with photographer Rick Rocamora and filmmaker Howie Severino for a virtual multimedia exhibit about the Filipino veterans of World War II. Called A Long Road to Dignity, the multimedia exhibit will be freely accessible via Google Arts and Culture, starting on February 18, 2021.  

The exhibit offers glimpses of the veterans’ everyday lives, embedding in a personal context their contribution to rights movements in America and with the Philippines. Central to the virtual experience are photos from Rocamora’s 18-year project, with World War II photos from FHL’s Roderick Hall and Retrato collections. Video excerpts are from Severino’s Little Brown Man in San Francisco, which he produced in 1999-2001 as a Pusod Fellow in California.

Building dignity

An award-winning documentary and photographer, Rick Rocamora has authored four photo books, not the least of which is Filipino WWII Soldiers: America’s Second Class Veterans. His work is widely exhibited in the US, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the US State Department Art in Embassies Program. Locally, he has been shown at CCP, Ben Cab Museum, and the Ateneo Art Gallery among others.

Both Rocamora and Severino are acclaimed documentarists working in different media. Their works have helped advocacies supporting Filipino American and Philippine culture. For A Long Road To Dignity, the two track how the veterans strive to keep a dignified existence in the face of aging.

By Rick Rocamora
Rocamora has exhibited widely in the US, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photo by Rick Rocamora

As a long-time advocate of the Filipino equity movement, Rocamora holds the date of the exhibit launch with significance. It commemorates the signing of the Rescission Acts of 1946 in America, which limited the benefits Filipino veterans could claim for their WWII service. 

Knowing history
The FHL houses the Roderick Hall Collection on World War II in the Philippines, which focuses on personal experiences, both civilian and military, within the Philippines during the Japanese occupation and the Second World War. A Long Road to Dignity is the follow-up project of a collaboration between FHL and Rocamora, starting in 2016. In 2018 this collaboration resulted in Bursting at the Seams, an exhibit garnering multiple awards including an Anvil, a Quill, and an LCDA award as a Soft Power Destination Best Activation.  

A photography book with the same title as the current exhibit will be available soon at the Ayala Museum Online Shop. With a foreword by Lourdes Tancino and an essay by John Labella, the book features Rocamora photos selected by the photographer himself.  

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