PILAR, Bataan: Mount Samat and the Pantingan River, both in Pilar, Bataan, stood out as the bloodiest sites in the province, receiving the brunt of fury of the invading Japanese troops during World War II.
War records showed that on Good Friday, April 3, 1942, the Japanese launched their final offensive, attacking all fronts in Bataan with the main thrust centered on Mount Samat.
“Bombers attacked anything that moved and in the dry heat of the hot season, foliage used as cover and camouflage burned away,” said Professor Ricardo Jose in his book “The Battle for Bataan.”
Saturnino Bugay, 83, of Pantingan, was only 11 years old when he saw Mount Samat burning.
Abigail Estorico, Pilar municipal tourism officer, said over 400 officers and men of the 91st Division of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East were massacred by the Japanese near Pantingan River.
Bugay recalled that the clean waters of the river turned red with blood.
“Despite their peaceful surrender, pinagpapatay sila. Pinahirapan at kinuha ang mahahalagang gamit nila at ang iba tinalian ng telephone cord sa leeg,” [The soldiers were killed even when they surrendered peacefully. They suffered greatly and were robbed while some were tied with a telephone cord on the neck,]” the tourism officer said.
War books showed that the Japanese were angered when they failed to capture the Philippines in 50 days. Bataan fell on April 9, 1942.