2021 Philippine Veterans Week | Araw ng Kagitingan Remembered

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April 5, 2021

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The Philippines commemorates the 79th Anniversary of the Fall of Bataan and the Bataan Death March on April 9, 2021, now known as the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor).

 

This day, also known as Bataan Day, commemorates the fall of Bataan, a pivotal event in Philippine history.

 

At dawn on 9 April 1942, against the orders of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Jonathan Wainwright, the commander of the Luzon Force, Bataan, Major General Edward P. King, Jr., surrendered over 76,000 starving and disease-ridden soldiers (64,000 Filipinos, Chinese and 12,000 Americans) to Japanese troops.

 

Unprepared for the number of prisoners, the Japanese decided to walk the prisoners 150 kilometers to a prison camp in San Fernando. Over 20,000 prisoners died on this march from dehydration, heat prostration, untreated wounds, and wanton executions at the hands of the Japanese. The trek became infamous as the 'Bataan Death March'.

Only some 54,000 of the 76,000 prisoners reached their destination; the exact death toll is difficult to assess because thousands of captives were able to escape. Approximately 5,000-10,000 Filipino and 600-650 American prisoners-of-war died before they could reach Camp O'Donnell.

 

While the holiday marks an event which was a victory for the opposing forces, the heroic defense of Bataan by those soldiers was seen as a key event in the war, as it allowed the Allies time to prepare for later battles which stalled the Japanese conquest  of the Pacific, and eventually led to an Allied victory. The Bataan peninsula was eventually retaken by American and Filipino forces on February 8th 1945.

In the Philippines, Araw ng Kagitingan is a nationwide holiday, commemorated through parades, featuring veterans of the Second World War. The most well-known celebration takes place at Mt. Samat Shrine, where the president gives a speech recognizing the bravery of those who fought.

 

In the United States, memorials are held across the country to commemorate the soldiers, but the day is celebrated in September rather than April. There is a special memorial in Maywood, Illinois, as many young soldiers from this village served at Bataan. 

With Araw ng Kagitingan, we honor all Filipino heroes of the past and the present.

In a special way, we honor our brave front liners who courageously fight for us in our battle against COVID-19. We also honor the countless Filipinos who have stepped up to help our brothers and sisters during these difficult times so that together, we heal as one nation.

 

Philippine Veterans Week

By virtue of Proclamation No. 466 signed by former President Corazon Aquino in September 1989, Philippine Veterans Week is commemorated every April 5 to 11.

The event is aimed at promoting, preserving and memorializing the principles, ideals and deeds of Filipino war veterans.

This weeklong observance honors not only the Filipino war veterans who fought during World War II but also those who rendered honorable military service.

This year's observance, anchored on the theme, Kagitingan ay Gawing Gabay, Pandemya ay Mapagtatagumpayan, is commemorated through a series of commemorative events virtually from April 5 to April 11, 2021.

Metro Cagayan de Oro Times joins the nation in commemorating these two events in Northern Mindanao with this special 79th Araw ng Kagitingan & Philippine Veterans Week 2021 issue featuring stories celebrating the heroism of our patriots, as well as others which celebrate the valor and sacrifice of those who rose from the ashes of defeat to continue the fight against their imperial oppressors.

 

The Mindanao Death March

The untold story of the Death March in Mindanao – one of the only two death marches recognized in the Tokyo war crime trials as evidence of the inhuman treatment of Filipino and American Prisoners of War (POWs) during World War II. On July 4, 1942, surrendered Filipino and American soldiers in Mindanao were forced to march on a rocky dirt road under the blazing tropical sun from Camp Keithley in Dansalan (Marawi) to Iligan in Lanao – a distance of about thirty-six (36) kilometers, for the purpose of joining them with the rest of the Mindanao POWs at Camp Casisang, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Based on online research conducted by Robert John A. Donesa, Saint Louis University, Baguio City.

 

Heroes de Bataan: Death March Survivors fight again in Mindanao

USAFFE soldiers from Northern Mindanao who fought in Bataan and survived the Death March  managed to find their way back to Cagayan de Misamis and joined the guerrillas to continue the fight against the Imperial Japanese Army garrison troops.

 

Quinine from Bukidnon Farm help Allies win the War in the Pacific

Still unknown to many, cinchona bark from a secret farm in Bukidnon helped prolong the defense of Bataan and Corregidor, delaying the Imperial Japanese Empire’s timetable to conquer Asia and the Pacific, buying precious time for the Allies to organize their defenses and eventually counter attack  and defeat the enemy. By Carlos Policarpio Bagonoc (with additional research by Mike Baños).

 

The Live or Die (LOD) Unit of the Mindanao Guerrillas 

Philippine Scouts from Oroquieta organized this small but deadly intelligence, sabotage, assassination, and propaganda unit from the 10th Military District of Mindanao which hit hard at prime targets of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy in Manila itself and paid for it with the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in the service of their beloved country. By Raul B. Ilogon

 

 The History & Legacy of the Fighting Moreno Brothers: Guerrillas of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental

 The Moreno clan of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental sent no less than 15 of its finest young men to fight with the 110th Division of the US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP), the organized resistance against the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Here are the stories and legacies of four of seven brothers of one of those families who later became prominent citizens as well as their children and grandchildren who continue their tradition of valor in battle and integrity in public service.

 

Defending Dipolog April 1945: A Young Guerrilla’s Eyewitness Account

A first-hand account of the final phase of this battle by a young guerrilla who was dispatched with the 108th Expeditionary Company in early 1945 to reinforce the guerrilla forces defending Dipolog Airfield early April, 1945. By Mike Baños & Raul B. Ilogon.

 

We hope and pray these stories are remembered and treasured by those who read it, to remind themselves and the those still to come after us, that there was a steep price to pay for the freedom we enjoy today, and the least we can do is pay it forward by passing on these tales to our children and grandchildren.

 

We must tell their stories.

 

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