BALANGA CITY: The Bataan World War II (WWII) Museum located adjacent to the Surrender Site Monument in Balanga City on Thursday needs more war artifacts to improve its limited collection.
This was revealed by Mario Magat, the museum’s executive director, who said that the limited artifacts on hand were donated by volunteers.
“Nananawagan kami na kung merong memorabila tungkol sa WWII ang inyong lolo, lola at magulang, mangyaring ilagak dito [If your grandfather, grandmother and parents have WWII memorabilia, please put it here],” he said.
Housed at the museum that opened in February are story panels from peacetime to liberation, a few war artifacts, and a diorama of dolls about the Death March that started in Mariveles and Bagac towns on April 10 and 11, 1942 respectively, after Bataan fell to Japanese forces on April 9, 1942.
Another diorama, also with dolls, tells about the surrender of Japan in Baguio City in September 1945.
“Pagkatapos nating matalo, nanalo naman tayo at ito’y makikitang malinaw sa dioramang gawa sa mga manika.
[After losing, we won and this is clearly shown in the diorama of dolls]. After defeat, victory naman ang kasunod [victory came next]” the museum official said.
Magat said that the country commemorates Veterans’ Week and Araw ng Kagitingan (Batan Day) in April.
“The nagging question is why do we celebrate defeat or the Fall of Bataan? It is very hard to explain this to Filipinos or kids so we decided to put up this museum,” he said
Magat lamented the fact that the bravery and heroic deeds of our forefathers from 1941 to 1945 have been forgotten.
“Parang nawala na sa ka–malayan ng marami ang kaba–yanihan ng ating mga magulang, kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari noong 1942. Dito sa museum, makikita ang kaba–yanihang iyon [It appears that the bravery of our parents and what really happened in 1942 have been forgotten. You can see this in the museum],” Magat said.
Volunteers led by the HAS Club of Balanga Foundation built the museum after years of raising funds. Magat said the project was realized with the help of former Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Manuel Villar, Richard Gordon, and Cynthia Villar.
He also gave credit to the city government of Balanga under Mayor Jose Enrique Garcia 3rd, Gov. Albert Garcia, the Bataan Tourism Council Foundation (BTCF), non-governmental organizations and some businessmen.
The only war museum in Bataan is located at the back of the Balanga Integrated School that served as the headquarters of Japanese General Masahuro Homma.
Meanwhile, the BTCF in coordination with the provincial government and the Department of Trade and Industry on Thursday opened its Agri-Aqua Trade Fair as part of the observance of the 72nd Araw ng Kagitingan.
Successful entrepreneur Baby Cruz, guest of honor and speaker, and BTCF chair Vicky Garcia formally opened the trade fair at the provincial capitol ground in Balanga City.
Featured Bataan products on sale at the event include buko pie, araro and other cookies, smoked and dried fish, bagoong, organic vegetables, cashew nuts, kapeng barako, walis lasa, pillows, bags, slippers, and kapis products.
Tourist sites like Dunsulan Falls in Pilar town (featuring a tree-hopping adventure and zipline)’ falls and resorts in Abucay, and bird-watching sites in Balanga City were promoted in other booths.
Governor Albert Garcia said the trade fair is just one of many activities lined up for the Bataan Day celebration.
“This will culminate in a program in Mt. Samat on April 9 where President Benigno Aquino 3rd with the ambassadors to the Philippines of the United States and Japan will attend together with WWII veterans and other guests,” he said.