ARAW NG KAGITINGAN – THE FALL OF BATAAN, THE RISE OF MODERN DAY HEROES
Written By Mart Shalom E. Bernales
Araw ng Kagitingan – The Fall of Bataan, The Rise of Modern Day Heroes. “Isinuko na ang Bataan” — These are words that we hear from people, often in the form of jokes, whenever something has been given up or surrendered. But on the 9th of April, 1942, in the midst of the rampaging World War II, these words meant no joke.
On this day in 1942, our brave soldiers who defended Bataan fell into the hands of the Japanese colonizers. General Edward P. King, who was the leader of the forces in Luzon, decided to raise the white flag against the Japs eventhough it was well-against the orders of General Douglas McArthur, who was the supreme leader of the forces in the Pacific at that time. McArthur knew that Bataan was the last line of defense in order to prevent Japan from colonizing the Philippines but the extreme starvation, thirst and overfatigue over endless skirmishes of his soldiers led General King to give up the fight.
66,000 Filipino soldiers along with 1,000 Filipino-Chinese and more or less a 10,000 more American soldiers were held prisoners of war by the Japanese army. All of their belongings; guns, ammos and even those personal ones were all taken away by the Japs. Afterwards, the captives were forced to walk 66 miles (106 kms) from Bataan to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac, which is what we know today as The Bataan Death March.
Thousands of soldiers died due to starvation, thirst and wounds not to mention the extreme tiredness amidst the death march. The Japs let their captives carry their weakened fellows while brutally killing those who were incapable to continue.
Based on historical statistics, more or less 56,000 soldiers has reached Camp O’Donnell, but the suffering hasn’t quite ended there. The surviving prisoners of war were forced to do endless grueling hours of hard labour.
The brave and courageous soldiers held their ground, surviving the day to day brutality of their captors until the Allied Forces retook the Philippines from the hands of the Japanese.
Up to this day, April 9th is celebrated as the Day of Valor, in order to commemorate the valiant fight and efforts of our World War II Veterans to retain our sovereignty.
In as much as we remember the courageous acts of our veterans in protection of our freedon, we as citizens of our beloved country must also appreciate the valiant efforts of our modern day heroes, namely the frontliners in all different fields in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic and setting our nation free from the virus that took the lives of many of our countrymen.
Like our veterans, our frontliners risk everything to regain our freedom against the pandemic. Even so, they are valiantly fighting the pandemic with all their might, even sacrificing much of everything they have got – not being able to be with their loved ones especially in these trying times, uncertain if they ever come back alive by sacrificing their lives for the welfare of the general public from the ravaging virus that’s lurking everywhere.
Not minding the differences, political preferences and cultural discrepancies, we Filipinos must stand as one in order to defeat the pandemic. We should fight the virus and the pandemic that it has brought in our little ways to do our part and help our modern day heroes. With this, we commemorate what the Day of Valor ultimately signifies, and this time “Hindi Natin Isusuko ang Bataan.”