Remembering the Fall of Bataan and the Second World War

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Lest we forget. 

75 years ago,  tens of thousands of Filipinos died during the World War II.  On that fateful day of April 9, 1942, Bataan has fallen. Thousands of Filipino and American soldiers (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans)  were force-marched by the Imperial Japanese Army from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga on what became known as the infamous "Bataan Death March."
on our way to Mount Samat to witness the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan
Many have perished due to the intense heat, starvation, disease but most especially because of harsh treatment by the Japanese guards. Those who were too weak to walk were bayoneted and left to die on the road. Locals, who just gave some water to the Filipino and American soldiers, were also forced to join the march when the Japanese soldiers saw them. It was a horrific scene I could never imagine. 
the Brave Men and Women of World War II
Three weeks ago, I was invited by the Bataan Tourism Office to witness a prelude to the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan. Various events have been organized by the province such as the Galing Bataan Trade Fair, Parada ng Kabayanihan (Foot parade), Parada ng Kagitingan (Parade of Floats) and Parangal sa mga Beterano.
Women military veterans were also present in the commemoration
On Bataan Day, April 9, 2017, the day of the year that we honor, remember and respect the courage of those who fought in World War II, I was able to meet our living heroes. It was my first to meet so many veterans from the World War II and it was overwhelming. President Rodrigo R. Duterte was present to deliver his message at the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) atop Mount Samat in Pilar, Bataan. Representatives of the United States of America, Japan and various government officials were also present. 
military officers at Mount Samat
During the speech of President Duterte, he authorized the swift release of over 6 billion peso worth of pension benefits for war veterans and other military retirees.  He said, “Our surviving veterans have suffered much. They should not suffer more in the twilight of their years. They deserve a better life.” As our veterans cheer for the president, I could feel their relief and their anticipation that they will soon receive their much deserved pension left unpaid during the past two administrations. I saw an old veterans crying as he was waving his flag. It was really a heart wrenching moment. T_T
photo taken during the foot parade
Another hightlight of Bataan Day was the speech delivered by the Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa. Once again, they apologized for World War II and the atrocities committed by their fathers. Aside from their payment of war reparations since their defeat in the war, Japan changed from an imperial nation to a democratic and demilitarized state. They vowed not to repeat the horror of war ever again. They have become a peace-loving nation since the war ended. It's been 75 years, and Japan is now a very close friend and ally of the Philippines.
a member of the Bataan Airsoft Tactical Squad
An excerpt from “Bataan Has Fallen,” written by Captain Salvador P. Lopez and delivered via radio broadcast from Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor, reminds us of what was given by our veterans to the defense of our nation in the war that was not ours:

“Bataan has fallen. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more than flesh, but they are not made of impervious steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come. Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand—a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world—cannot fall!”
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That weekend celebrating the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan made me realize a lot of things. That we are lucky to be born on this world during this time. That we have skipped world wars. That we have democracy and freedom. That we have a growing economy. And that we have advances in Science and Technology, especially Medical Science. 

SaveSave We are the future that they fought for. Whatever we do, we can never repay the brave men and women of the second World War. I believe it is our duty to remember them. The “Araw ng Kagitingan” being marked and the attention it brings to how World War II unfolded may remind people of the past mistakes so that it could not happen again.


Special thanks to Bataan Provincial Tourism for making this trip possible!

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