Araw ng Kagitingan: April 9
Araw ng Kagitingan is celebrated as a public holiday in the Philippines.
The Araw ng Kagitingan or the Day of Valor is celebrated in the Philippines every 9th of April as a national memorial day for the brave souls who fought during the Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 during the World War II.
The holiday also pays respect and tribute to the many civilian men who died on the tragic Death March which started from Bataan and ended in Tarlac.
History of Araw ng Kagitingan in the Philippines
The history of the Araw ng Kagitingan started during the World War II when the Japanese attacked the Naval Base of the United States at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The day after the attack, the Pacific War was declared between the two countries in the Philippine soil in which shortly after the start of 1942, the Japanese successfully conquered Manila.
And on April 9, 1942, the Filipino and American troops raised their white flag and surrendered to the Japanese. The commanding Luzon Force in Bataan surrendered more than 76,000 people- 67,000 of them are Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese Filipinos and 11,796 Americans, all became prisoners of war by the Japanese.
Bataan was the last province to surrender to the Japanese occupation. Followed by this surrender was the famous Bataan Death March imposed by the Japanese against the captives of war. The starving and in poor health men composed of Filipinos and Americans were forced to march from Mariveles in Bataan all the way to the city of Capas which is in Tarlac.
During the march, physical abuse and tortures were involved especially to the weak men who struggled in the long and tragic walk. The Japanese never had second thoughts on killing those who they thought will not make it to the destination. For the Japanese, if you stumble, you die. They cut their throats and beheaded them. Some were shot and stabbed to death.
The march lasted for almost a week under the scorching heat of the sun with no food and water at all. Only about 54,000 out of all the 72,000 prisoners who were forced to march reached the Tarlac destination.
The Bataan War and the Bataan Death March are just two of the tragic moments that are engraved in the history of the Philippines which the people never fail to look back and reminisce.
Araw ng Kagitingan Traditions, Customs and Activities
As a tribute to the Filipinos and Americans who served as heroes of the Bataan War, the Filipinos observe the 9th of April each year with moments of silence and prayers to recognize the courage and heroism of the valiant men who fought for the country’s independence.
Shrines and statues were built in Capas and in Bataan as a memorial landmark. Many schools, roads, parks and national landmarks were also named after the heroes of the Bataan war.
Along with the celebration of the special day, several commemoration rites and parades are also organized by different groups and organizations in the Philippines and in some parts of the United States.