BALANGA City: Late afternoon of Saturday, a day before the commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan on Mount Samat, a parade of colors by soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines led the floats about World War 2. The parade started in Pilar town and ended at the Bataan capitol grounds in Balanga City. A float with the replica of a nipa hut brought back memories of happy days during peacetime. Terror filled the air and replaced merry-making as war broke out and when Bataan was attacked and civilians were killed in 1942 as depicted in the next float. Filipino soldiers tried to repulse the advancing Japanese forces in the float about the First Line of Defense Monument in Layac, Dinalupihan, Bataan. Other floats showed the heavy fighting that took place in areas Points and Pockets and finally, on blood-stained Mount Samat. When Bataan fell to the Japanese imperial troops on April 9, 1942, more than 70,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forced to surrender and join the “Death March” starting April 10 in Mariveles town to April 11 in Bagac town. The Death March was depicted in a float showing the hardships encountered by Filipino-American soldiers in the hands of the Japanese invaders in the 160-kilometer march to Capas, Tarlac. A float showed a cramped box car where soldiers on the “Death March” were loaded from San Fernando, Pampanga to Tarlac where they were forced to walk for kilometers to the Capas garrison. Thousands were killed while walking, inside the box car and incarcerated in Capas. The last float showed that no matter how devastating war can be, people can rise from the ashes they way Bataan has risen like a phoenix.
ERNIE B. ESCONDE