BALANGA CITY: Historical markers and monuments in Bataan mostly found along the MacArthur Highway from the towns of Mariveles and Bagac to the boundary of Pampanga become more significant today as reminders of World War 2 and the Death March as the country celebrates the Araw ng Kagitingan on Sunday.
The Zero Kilometer (KM) Death March monument stands in Mariveles at the “Pinagsimulan ng Death March” spot where thousands of Filipino and American soldiers started their 160-kilometer grueling march to Capas in Tarlac on April 10, 1942.
Another “0” KM Death March marker is located in Bagac town where another batch of surrendered Filipino and American soldiers began their long walk to Capas on April 11, 1942.
The National Historical Commission placed at 70,000 the number of Filipino and American soldiers and members of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East, who became captives of the Japanese Imperial Army and forced to join the Death March after Bataan “fall” on April 9, 1942.
Thousands died on the way and while under incarceration in the Capas garrison.
There are 138 KM Death March markers that 100 are found in Bataan, 31 in Pampanga and seven in Tarlac.
War monuments like the First Line of Defense in Layac, Dinalupihan; Abucay–Morong Line in Barangay Mabatang, Abucay; the monuments of Filipino soldiers in Abucay and Orani towns; and the Pagbangon in Orani depicting the gallantry of Filipino soldiers.
The Flaming Sword monument in Pilar shows the readiness of Filipinos, particularly the people of Bataan, to defend democracy at all cost.
A sampalok tree in Barangay Santa Rosa in Pilar and an acacia tree in Abucay, both more than 100 years, were also marked as deaf-mute witnesses to the Death March
From a distance, on top of Mount Samat in Pilar town is the giant War Memorial Cross. A closer look inside this historic mountain reveals the War Memorial Shrine where the annual Araw ng Kagitingan every April 9 is celebrated.
Ernie B. Esconde