May 26, 2016

Remembering the Bataan Death March at Capas National Shrine


"This memorial is dedicated to the brave men and women who defied the might of the invaders at Bataan, Corregidor and other parts of the Philippines during World War II. Thousands died in battle, during the Death March, and while in captivity. Thousands more endured inhuman conditions at the prison camp in Capas, Tarlac. They suffered in the night so that their countrymen would wake to the dawn of freedom."



We read them on books we see them in TV re-enacted many times, they are the fallen heroes of Bataan Death March. Thousand men of mostly Filipinos died during WWII when the Japanese Empire invaded the Philippines. 35,000 men walked under the heat of the sun from Bataan to Capas Tarlac.



In 1991 President Cory Aquino declared the site where the Bataan Death March ends as a National Shrine to commemorate the heroic act Filipino, American and some Czech soldiers.



The black wall circling the 70 meters high obelisk list the names of the soldier who died during the march.


It is a place to remember our past. The names of the soldiers in the black wall tells us that we should not forget what we have been through. It should serve as a reminder of what we have once fought over – freedom.
In my opinion, we should have done this to commemorate the 1986 EDSA Revolution. Although the people on that revolution were claiming that it was the a divine intervention that made that event successful, we should have put something better that should make us remember the struggles of the Filipinos during the Marcos regime. EDSA shrine should have been a place where our collective memory will pass throughout generations to come.

Aside from taking pictures and selfies we did solemn adventure searching our family names on the black wall. It was a heartfull moment when we saw our family names from mother and father side etched on the wall.  

Paler is my maternal surname

This "boxcar" was used not to transport Filipino Soldiers during the Bataan Death March but was purposely used to torture them through suffocation due to limited space (or no space at all suitable for human breathing) in intense heat.

As I have seen on war movies involving Germany's Hitler and its eradication of the Jews, Boxcar were used to poison men, women and even children. I never knew that we also have that kind during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines until I see these Boxcar in Capas National Shrine. 



Bataan Death March Boxcar

If touching the etched names of the unsung heroes of Bataan Death March moved moved you, these Boxcar will definitely make you remorse. 150 Filipino and American soldiers died inside that boxcar.   


The remnants of war are painful but it speaks of who we were and who we are and when we became. It is a living testimonial of what our ancestors have been through in order for us to taste this sometimes over used "freedom" We must never forget them and their heroic act to liberate us from the slavery and colonialism. We must remember them prepetually.

You can visit Capas National Shrine when you climb Mt. Pinatubo. You will pass through it going to Mt. Pinatubo. Like going to Mt. Pinatubo you can also hire a tricycle in McDonalds in Capas Tarlac.