The essence of Araw ng
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
Apart from knowing that the reason for the nationwide holiday on
April 9 is because of the commemoration of the "Araw ng Kagitingan"
(Day of Valor), the young people of the Philippines must realize the
significance of this occasion.
On April 9, as the
whole country celebrates the Filipino gallantry, bravery and heroism,
the country pays tribute not only to the war heroes many of whom gave
up their lives during World War II but also to the veterans who fought
in the name of freedom.
Bataan was the last
province to surrender to the Japanese invaders during the War. The
Battle of Bataan saw local forces alongside American allies engaging
in war against the Japanese. After the Fall came the infamous Death
March--a long and difficult walk from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas,
Tarlac that the captured Filipino and American soldiers were subjected
to. For many, it was fatal; almost 10,000 fatigued and starved
warriors perished along the trail.
The march, involving
the forcible transfer of 90,000 to 100,000 American and Filipino
prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in the Philippines from the
Bataan peninsula to prison camps, was characterized by wide-ranging
physical abuse, murder, savagery, and resulted in very high fatalities
inflicted upon the prisoners and civilians along the route by the
armed forces of the Empire of Japan.
throats and being casually shot were the more common and merciful
actions – compared to bayonet stabbings, rapes, gutting
(disembowelments), numerous rifle butt beatings and a deliberate
refusal to allow the prisoners food or water while keeping them
continually marching for nearly a week (for the slowest survivors) in
tropical heat. Falling down, unable to continue moving was tantamount
to a death sentence, as was any degree of protest or expression of
As a fitting tribute
to the heroism of these Filipino heroes, a 60-foot cross was erected
on Mount Samat in Pilar, Bataan. It is now a World War II military
shrine called the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor). Completed
and inaugurated in 1970, the Dambana ng Kagitingan consists of the
Colonnade and the huge Memorial Cross. The Colonnade is a
marble-capped structure with an altar, esplanade (walkway) and a
These days, the
Filipinos are not being required to do the same act of heroism, the
best proof of patriotism and love of country. All that is asked is for
the Filipino youth to be guided by the gallantry and valor of the
World War II Veterans.
Filipinos are fighting another kind of war, that of selecting and
electing the political leaders of the country in May 2010. The
challenge is for the youth and the Filipino people as a whole to shift
their paradigms of resignation and indifference, of helplessness and
indifference into awareness of their opportunity and responsibility to
make a difference by voting the right leaders transcending
self-serving interests into the noble purpose of nation-building, from
the myopic ambition of selfishness to the magnanimous care and genuine
concern for others.
It is hoped that the
Filipino youth and all Filipinos for that matter will look up at the
Filipino veteran as their guide in choosing the right leaders who will
lead the nation towards unity, peace and progress.