Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9 is "Araw ng Kagitingan" in the Philippines

  • Also known as "Day of Valor", "Bataan Day", "Bataan and Corregidor Day and it is a regular holiday in the Philippines and a national observance commemorating the fall of Bataan during World War II.
  • Congress passed Republic Act 3022 declaring April 9 of every year as Bataan Day on April 6, 1961.
  • Executive Order 203 revised all national holidays in the Philippines, renaming the April 9 holiday into "Araw ng Kagitingan (Bataan and Corregidor Day)" on June 30, 1987.
  • A revision of holidays in Executive Order 292 was created on July 25, 1987 but did not affect the naming of the April 1 holiday.
  • On July 25, 2007, Congress passed Republic Act No. 9492 that puts into law the "Holiday Economics" policy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo effecting the observance of holidays except New Years Day and Christmas to the Monday nearest it. For this reason, April 9 in 2009 coincided with Maundy Thursday and was moved to April 6.
  • The holiday has been observed on April 9 and not on the Monday nearest it during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III and the holiday has been called simply as "Araw ng Kagitingan".
  • On April 9,1942, Major General Edward P. King, Jr., commander of the Luzon Force in Bataan, surrendered more than 76,000 soldiers (67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese Filipinos, and 11,796 Americans) to Japanese troops against the orders of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Jonathan Wainwright during World War II (1939-45). The soldiers were forced to walk from Mariveles, Bataan (southern end of the Bataan Peninsula) to Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. This was called the infamous 140 kilometre (90 mile) "Bataan Death March" wherein thousands died and the remaining prisoners were crammed into rail cars for transport to captivity. The train cars could only hold 50 men each but they were packed three times more than it can hold.
  • At the end of the Death March, there were approximately 50,000 prisoners and the prison camp in Capas, Tarlac could only hold 9,000 people and the Japanese moved some prisoners to a prison in Cabanatuan. Those who were lucky enough to travel by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga would still have to endure more than 25 additional miles of marching. The commander at the Cabanatuan prison camp was Shegiji Mori.
  • Only some 54,000 of the 76,000 prisoners who were part of the 91st Infantry reached their destination but the exact death toll is difficult to assess because thousands of captives were able to escape from their guards. Approximately 5,000 to10,000 Filipino and 600-650 American prisoners-of-war died along the way.
  • In Cabanatuan, up to 40 prisoners were dying each day and the first deaths started on December 15, 1942. The Bone Hill was the nickname of the cemetery in Cabanatuan wherein many prisoners were buried.
  • The commander of the Japanese troops during this period was General Masaharu Homma, who was convicted and executed by a firing squad on April 3, 1946.
  • In Maywood, Illinois remembered Bataan Day every second Sunday in September. Maywood provided Illinois National Guard soldiers of the 192nd Tank Battalion who served on Bataan.

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