Documentary Photographer Rick Rocamora to launch a book on Filipino World War II Soldiers

Book Launch
Filipino World War II Soldiers: America's Second-Class Veterans
by Rick Rocamora

Thursday, May 21, 2009- 6-9pm
San Francisco Exposure Gallery,
801 Howard Street near Moscone Center

Sunday, May 24, 2009- 2-5pm
San Francisco Main Public Library
Grove and Larkin near San Francisco City Hall
(Civic Center Bart Station)

Rick Rocamora took pictures of Filipino WWII veterans for 18 years as they wait to be recognized as equal to US veterans.

Rocamora has documented the lives of the Filipino veterans, still clinging to hard-won medals, military commendations and scraps of uniforms as they make their way in San Francisco’s toughest neighborhoods. Rocamora’s deep connection to the veterans allows a rare view into their difficult but always dignified lives, and creates a poignant story of pain, persistence and hope.

Rocamora’s images have been part of investigative stories on the abuse of veterans in North Richmond, California, Medicare scam in San Francisco that used them, exhibitions in the US Congress and other venues and countless presentations and photo essays about their plight. His images have been part of their struggle and have been credited in inspiring others to advocate for equity for the veterans.

His photo-documentary work, including words of supporters, historical anecdotes and chronology is now part of the book “AMERICA’S SECOND-CLASS VETERANS”.

Eli Reed, a member of Magnum said, “The book should be viewed as an important element in the failed promise of delivering the promise of America. Rocamora admirably performs this difficult task by photographing the lives of these men in a sensitive, straightforward, and respectable manner. He doesn’t add unnecessary flourishes that might take you away from their story. He leaves you to understand that these images are about these men and not about him. When you look into the eyes of these men, you will truly feel their pain. You will also feel the shame of knowing how they were left to drift by our country after helping us in our time of need. They went through hell and were then abandoned. Rick Rocamora has not abandoned these men and through his photographs of their lives, he insures that we will not forget them either”.

Sandra Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art said, “Like Dorothea Lange, Rocamora focuses his attention on the people he wants us to look at and think about. These are ordinary people. They fought alongside American soldiers in World War II in the Pacific, often at great personal cost. They are Filipinos, living here in the United States, promised benefits by the United States government that many still expect. Most of these men are also very poor, though it is not their poverty that we remember most, but their gentleness and bravery. Rocamora reminds us, in these quiet and dignified pictures, of the value and integrity of these people, and of their strong sense of community-which sustains them, even as they suffer from careless neglect”.

Rocamora will sign books and talk about his varied experiences as a documentary photographer and an advocate for the struggle of Filipino WW II veterans.