World War 2 had a great impact on the Philippines. Millions of Filipinos sacrificed their lives for the future of our nation. One event during the World War 2 that many of us won’t forget was the Bataan Death March where thousands of Filipino and American soldiers died during the march,
To pay tribute to the Filipinos who fought in Bataan in defense of freedom and democracy in addition to the bravery and heroism of our World War 2 veterans, they declared April 9 as a Day of Valor or Araw ng Kagitingan which the people of Bataan consider as Bataan Day.
In celebration of the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan held at Mt. Samat in Pilar Bataan, we were invited to attend the event where President Rodrigo Duterte would be giving a speech.
We arrived as early as 7:00 am at Mt. Samat National Shrine. So many people were very excited for this event and they also couldn’t wait to see the President. I was one of them.
Security was very tight in the area. Each invited guests went through a very thorough check.
When we arrived at the venue, I met up with some the Filipino World War 2 veterans. These are the people I consider as my true heroes. I also got a little emotional to see them because they reminded me of my Grandfather who is also a war veteran. These are the people who fought for the future of the Philippines. Listening to their stories was both sad and overwhelming specially when they tell stories about the war and their friends who didn’t make it during the Bataan Death March.
The patriotism and the story of bravery and heroism of our war veterans will definitely be passed on to our youth.
When the Philippine President arrived, He first went to Dambana ng Kagitingan for the wreath laying before he went to the stage for the program celebration.
Prior to the arrival of the President of the Philippines, they called in a Filipino War Veteran and he clearly described what really happened during the Fall of Bataan, which lead to the Bataan Death March. I was horrified while listening to the story but then again our war veterans didn’t give up and fought all the way to the end and that for me was very inspiring.
Hand salute and with hands on the chest as we all sang with pride the Philippine National Anthem.
Finally, I saw the President of the Philippines, Mr. Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Was the President of the Philippines staring at me?
Governor Albert S. Garcia, was the first one who welcomed everyone to the celebration.
Though history and events during the World War 2 still live on, countries that used to be enemies are now allies, friends, and are solid trading partners.
During the celebration the Ambassador of Japan, H. E. Kazuhide also gave his warm message to the people. He then apologized to the Filipino people for the events that occurred during World War 2 and bowed in front of us all which I found very humbling.
Next to give his message was the Charge d’ Affaires of United States of American to the Philippines, Mr. Michael S. Clecheski .
Photo, Essay, and Oratorical contest winners from different schools around the Philippines where also recognized at this event by President Duterte and Secretary Briones of the Department of Education.
Commemorative stamps where also presented to the President by Postmaster General Joel L. Otaraa .
After all the awarding and other presentations, the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte was now called on stage to give his speech.
Compared to his previous speeches, as we all know, he loved impromptu speeches, this time he was very straight forward and also diplomatic in his speech. Our President also praised our war veterans for their heroism during the World War 2. To end his speech, he mentioned some amendments that he made for the benefit of our War Veterans which pleased many people.
Right after the speech of President Rodrigo Duterte the Exit of Colors followed and that gave us the opportunity to visit the Dambana ng Kigitingan where the President offered flowers to the brave soldiers who died during World War 2.
After attending this event, I came to realize that this is not just an ordinary non-working holiday for me. Araw Ng Kagitingan is more than that, especially if you are at a place where a big piece of Philippine history took place like BATAAN.
This event is not about remembering the Fall of Bataan and Fall of Corregidor, but to celebrate the bravery of the Filipino people who fought for our freedom and democracy during World War 2.
I would like to thank the Bataan Tourism Office for the opportunity to witness this event along with other travel bloggers and social media influencers. If there is one Province that is serious about promoting their tourism, the Province of Bataan is leading the way!