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Bataan Death March

At dawn of April 9, 1942, Major General Edward P. King, commander of the Bataan forces, was forced to surrender together with his men when the Filipino and American soldiers could no longer defend the Bataan peninsula from the invasion of Japanese troops. This is deemed as the Fall of Bataan. The surrender was announced by the Unites States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) broadcast station in Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor.

Malinta Tunnel (en.wikipedia.org)

After the Fall of Bataan, tens of thousands of American and Filipino Soldiers surrendered to Japanese forces and at gunpoint were forced to march from Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga, a more than 60 miles march in the scorching heat. Thousands died due to hunger, dehydration, and fatigue. Those who survived faced the hardships of prisoner of war camps. Thus, the event earned for itself an infamous title, the “Death March.”

Prisoners during the Bataan Death March, 1942. (www.britannica.com)

The nation marks “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor) on April 9 of every year to highlight the valor and heroism of the Filipino and American soldiers who fought in the Philippines during World War II.

Formerly called “Bataan Day” or “Fall of Bataan,” the celebration was changed to “Day of Valor” and made a national public holiday under Letter of Instruction No. 1087 issued on November 26, 1980 by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Executive Order No. 203, dated June 30, 1987, further declared April 9 of each year as “Araw Ng Kagitingan” to pay tribute to the heroes of Bataan, Corregidor and Bessang Pass.

“Bataan Has Fallen”

RADIO BROADCAST MESSAGE, AS WRITTEN BY CAPTAIN SALVADOR P. LOPEZ, DELIVERED BY THIRD LIEUTENANT NORMANDO ILDEFONSO “NORMAN” REYES ON THE “VOICE OF FREEDOM” RADIO BROADCAST OF APRIL 9, 1942 FROM MALINTA TUNNEL, CORREGIDOR:

Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.

The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more that three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.

For what sustained them through all these months of incessant battle was a force that was more than merely physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith—something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy! It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives.

The adversary, in the pride of his power and triumph, will credit our troops with nothing less than the courage and fortitude that his own troops have shown in battle. Our men have fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the most superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last in the face of overwhelming odds.

But the decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more that 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!

All of us know the story of Easter Sunday. It was the triumph of light over darkness, life over death. It was the vindication of a seemingly unreasonable faith. It was the glorious resurrection of a leader, only three days before defeated and executed like a common felon.

Today, on the commemoration of that Resurrection, we can humbly and without presumption declare our faith and hope in our own resurrection, our own inevitable victory.

We, too, were betrayed by Judases. We were taken in the night by force of arms, and though we had done wrong to no man, our people were bound and delivered into the hands of our enemies. We have been with mock symbols of sovereignty, denied by weaklings, lashed with repeated oppression, tortured and starved. We have been given gall to drink, and we have shed our blood. To those who look upon us from afar it must seem the Filipino people have descended into hell, into the valley of death. But we know that the patient and watching men who said their simple prayers in the hills of Bataan, have not lost faith, and we know that the hushed congregations in the churches throughout the land, drew from the gospel as Mass renewed hope in their resurrection. To all of them we give today the message of the angel of Easter morning: “Be not afraid, for He is risen.”

We, too, shall rise. After we have paid the full price of our redemption, we shall return to show the scars of sacrifices that all may touch and believe. When the trumpets sound the hour we shall roll aside the stone before the tomb and the tyrant guards shall scatter in confusion. No wall of stone shall then be strong enough to contain us, no human force shall suffice to hold us in subjection, we shall rise in the name of freedom and the East shall be alight with the glory of our liberation.

http://www.malacanang.gov.ph

Sources:

http://www.bataanmarch.com

http://www.britannica.com

http://www.history.com

http://www.kahimyang.com

http://www.malacanang.gov.ph

http://www.malacanang.tumblr.com

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