Campaign to have Pinay war hero flown home launched
A GoFundMe page was set up to bring home the only Asian woman to receive the US Silver Star during World War II for burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The page, set up by a member of the American Legion Bataan Post 600, aims to help the family of Magdalena Estoista Leones fly her body home on July 6.
Leones passed away on June 16 at the age of 95.
The "Lioness of Filipina agents" won the third highest honor for valor in the US Army for risking "her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory."
From February 27 to September 26, 1944, the Kalinga-born soldier transmitted information on enemy ships and their skippers in La Union to government forces and blew up planes on an airstrip in Tuguegarao.
Leones, who earned the rank of corporal, was caught thrice by Japanese forces but she managed to escape and save the lives of others using the Nihongo she learned while in captivity.
Despite her exploits, Leones decided to keep them secret from her family and moved to California in 1969 to work as a clerk.
Guillermo Tabor, one of her sons, told East Bay Times that they only learned of their mother's past when he did research after his daughter's birth.
"She kept it always a big secret, so now that she's gone, I want to make sure that she gets the honor she deserves," Tabor said.
His daughter once wrote a book report about her and had to bring proof of Leones' heroism to prove the authenticity of her account.
"The teacher didn't believe her... So she brought the medal to school," Tabor said.
Leones' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is still pending approval from the Philippine government. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News