Commemorating the Day of Valor

Today, the Philippines is commemorating Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor (also known as Bataan Day or Bataan and Corregidor Day).

Araw ng Kagitingan is extremely important to us Filipinos because it marks the annual commemoration of the Fall of Bataan during World War II on April 9, 1942 – the bravery of Filipino and American soldiers during the campaign against invading Japanese forces. It also commemorates the Bataan Death March.

History says that at the dawn on April 9, 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 more than 76,000 starving and disease-ridden soldiers (67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese-Filipinos, and 11,796 Americans) to Japanese troops.

These prisoners of war were forced to endure the infamous 140-kilometer (87 mi) Bataan Death March to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac where my 100-year-old still much alive World War II veteran grandfather, Cpt. Alberto Tuico Orillo took part of.

I detailed in my previous blog, A centenarian reveals secrets to his long life how my grandfather survived and endured the Death March.

During the march, the Japanese did not give the soldiers’ food or water, so they became weak. Many fell behind and were killed or beaten up by the Japanese. Upon reaching the camp, thousands of more soldiers died from starvation and disease.

“We slept together like sardines. Sometimes we get drenched by the urine of our dying comrade sleeping beside us. When they die, we let their bodies dry in the open. When the pile reaches 20, we would bury them all together in a deep well,” my grandfather shared in Filipino.

Luckily, my grandfather kept a canteen so he can sip just enough water to wet his dry lips or throat. He also refrained from eating just about any food. He said some soldiers survived the march but died from eating rotten food and drinking water anywhere.

But apart from water, food, and his overall discipline, my grandfather said that it was his prayers and faith in God that helped him survive the ordeal.

Of the 76,000 prisoners, only 54,000 reportedly reached their destinations. Some died before they could even reach Camp O’Donnell, some became captives, some escaped so it was difficult to assess the exact death toll.

Republic Act 3022 passed by Congress in 1961 made Bataan Day on April 9 a holiday. In 1987. Executive Order No. 203 renamed the holiday, “Araw ng Kagitingan”. While Proclamation 466 in 1989 declared April 5 to April 11 as “Veterans Week” in honor of all veterans of the Philippine military, not just the WWII veterans.

(Sources: Wikipedia and Rappler)


Published by Mylene Orillo

Mylene Orillo is a contributing writer at My Pope Philippines. Prior to that, she contributed to the Health & Lifestyle magazine.  She's a former correspondent at The Manila Times; former editor-in-chief of TravelPlus magazine; and former assistant editor of Health & Lifestyle, Zen Health, and DiabetEASE magazines by FAME Publishing, Inc., a company owned by cardiologist Dr. Rafael Castillo who has given her the much-needed break and opportunity in the health industry and medical field.  Her previous job as a Media Consultant at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Writer-Researcher at the Headquarters Philippine Army ignited her passions for charity, volunteering, selfless service, and love of country. As a young girl, she loved reading her mom's collection of Mills & Boons pocketbooks, which started her passion to write romance stories.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Sto. Tomas in España, Manila. She is now working towards earning her master's degree hopefully this year. She loves traveling, long-distance running, reading romance and non-fiction books, watching Korean Drama series, feel-good rom coms, military movies, and documentaries during her spare time. Someday, she wants to meet Prince William and Pope Francis, settle down with the love of her life and have a family and kids of her own; and become a bestselling romance author.

2 thoughts on “Commemorating the Day of Valor

  1. The photo ought to be repaired/preserved digitally. I heard about this five thousand photos from the war by the American Historical Institute, open for viewing at the Rizal Library in Ateneo. You should check it out.

    We should check it out.

    I have an uncle, also an ‘escapee’ from the Death March. Jumped into a boat just before the march started and drifted into Calanate in Malolos. He lived up to the age of 90something and passed away only last year.

    The horrible war was only yesterday. Here’s to our brave forefathers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely check that library. I love old stuff, histories, museums, and antique. I’m sorry to hear about your uncle. May His soul rest in peace.


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