Do You Know Why We Remember 'Araw Ng Kagitingan'?
The story of the Fall of Bataan remains to be a devastating tale. But unlike The Shining or American Psycho, this is not a story ripped off of fiction books. It is a tragedy engraved in the dark pages of our history.
The Day of Valour, also known as the Araw ng Kagitingan, commemorates the Filipino and American soldiers who stood up against Japanese forces during World War II.
On 9 April 1942, Luzon Force, Bataan commander Major General Edward P King, Jr, surrendered more than 76,000 of his starving and disease-ridden troops (64,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans) to Japan.
As captives, the soldiers were forced to endure the infamous 140-kilometre Bataan Death March to Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. Along the way, thousands died due to famine, heat prostration, untreated wounds, and wanton or execution-style murder.
Historians believe that only 54,000 of the 76,000 prisoners were able to reach Camp O'Donnell. The exact number of deaths and escapees was difficult to assess.
The Japanese planned to move the captured soldiers to Camp O’Donnell, a place that they turned into a prison. During the march, soldiers were placed into boxcars in San Fernando. Men who could not fit in were forced to walk.
Camp O’ Donnell was later closed and the imprisoned soldiers were transferred to Cabanatuan prison camp to join the prisoners of war from the Battle of Corregidor.
The Philippines’ surrender to Japan led to the world’s worst atrocities in modern warfare. The Japanese troops did not provide food and water to their captives; as a result, many soldiers became weaker and started to fall behind the group.
Those who fell behind were beaten and killed. Those who were not lucky enough were driven over by trucks and other army vehicles.
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The march lasted for six days. The prisoners who survived were only rescued in early 1945 during the Raid at Cabanatuan.
Bataan Day is also remembered in the U.S.
Maywood, Illinois, a small western suburb of Chicago, is the hometown of the members of the 192nd Tank Battalion, a US Army unit that participated in the Battle of Bataan. The town marked the second Sunday in September as Maywood Bataan Day.
Araw Ng Kagitingan
Under Republic Act 3022, the Day of Valour was officially a Filipino holiday. Passed by Congress in 1961, the law says part of the observance for Bataan Day is a moment of silence among citizens and public offices at 4:30pm.
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