What dampened the spirit of this historic meeting was the sad story that Mang Peping recounted on his taped testimony for the upcoming Senate Veterans Affairs hearing.
Two days earlier, his fellow veteran, Felizardo Ticao, died after struggling with Alzheimer's disease. The Purple Heart awardee was 83 years old.
Ticao's body is at the Armstrong Mortuary in Los Angeles, and at this time, Mang Peping said, they don't even know when they could bury him.
"His wife, who only works part-time, doesn't have any funds for the burial so we are trying to find any way to help her," he said. "It's very difficult."
Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time - and most sadly, probably not the last - that I've seen Mang Peping agonizing over what to do with a fellow veteran's remains. A few months ago, while shooting a news story at Fasgi where he coordinates its veterans' center, I saw him having a somber meeting with other manongs.
When I asked why they were so sad, he pointed at a nondescript vase sitting on the edge of his desk. It contained the ashes of another fallen comrade.
And now, 85-year-old Mang Peping is once again taking care of another veteran's death.
To find out how to help Felizardo Ticao's family, please contact Mang Peping or Susan Dilkes, Fasgi's executive director and tireless champion of Filipino veterans. Their number is (213)487-9804. E-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.