The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Filipino War Veterans Foundation (FILVET) and Mr. Francisco Licuanan funded a project team to go to the U.S. National Archives and digitize the records of the Philippine Collection in 2015. The Guerrilla Unit Recognition File records composed of 270 boxes were digitized resulting in around 270,000 scanned records. The goal was to bring back a copy to the Philippine and make known the guerrillas’ heroic contributions during WWII thereby promoting pride and nationalism. These records contain names of Filipinos who did not surrender and became guerrillas after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. Civilians and Americans also joined or formed guerrilla units. Their untold stories are in their files and now provides information never known before.
The crumbling records were found in the U.S. National Archives. Few Filipino researchers and historians have been able to access the records due to the location of the records. It took 3 years to finally find financial supporters of the project – Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Filipino War Veterans Foundation (FILVET) and Mr. Francisco Licuanan whose father was an officer in the Philippine Commonwealth Army of the United States Armed Forces Far East (USAFFE).
The original goal was to digitize the entire Philippine Collection composed of 1665 boxes. With the project funded enough for 4 months, only the Guerrilla Unit Recognition Files was digitized. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) which manages the records in the U.S. National Archives signed a project agreement with PVAO and it was executed by the project team. A copy of the scanned records was provided to NARA as per project agreement. Through trial and error, the team put together a procedure on the most efficient way to scan, accommodate the Archives’ requirements and rules and fulfill its goals. Each record had to be scanned with an NAID which is the Archives’s unique identifier that the documents have been declassified. There were procedures and schedules to pull carts of boxes and placing of documents in archival envelopes that were in tatters for the Conservation Dept. to preserve. Large maps had to be separately scanned in another location and machine and a spreadsheet of the number of records per files in each box with its own unique ID had to be created. Iif anyone wanted to see the original document at the Archives, the spreadsheet would show the box number and file folder. Each day before leaving the Archives, the team saved their scanned images to their small external drives which they later loaded into a larger hard drive for backup. Once a week, the data was loaded into a second hard drive for a second back up off site. The team worked on Saturdays to catch up to keep their pace and to meet the deadline.
With 270 boxes scanned out of 1665 boxes, future teams will need to be funded and sent to continue scanning the rest of the Collection to get a more complete story of that period.
The Guerrilla Unit Recognition Files and other related files of this project are with PVAO. Before distribution to libraries and organizations, they are converted to PDF files and explained on a website of PVAO with finding aids.