Today we celebrate the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) that marks the annual commemoration of the Fall of Bataan. We also commemorate today the Bataan Death March where 78,000 Filipino-American soldiers who were prisoners of war were forced by the Japanese to march from Bataan to San Fernando Pampanga and 5, 000 to 10, 000 of them died along the way.
It is only fitting to emphasize that during that time, the Philippines was the last country to surrender to the Japanese.
In its literal definition, a death march is a forced march, usually by prisoners. Aside from the scorching heat of the sun or the extreme cold that the prisoners have to endure, they are also faced with exhaustion, starvation, thirst and even abuse by their guards. It is a trail of hardship, of blood, sweat and tears.
It is a trail we still travel each day, today as Filipinos. Each one of us walks our own death march everyday – when we are on our way to work and coping with the bad transport system in the country, when we are voicing out our opinions, when we are asserting our human rights. These acts of nobility may sometimes feel like death marches on their own, urging you to give up, trying to make you shut up, convincing you that the easier thing to do is to settle for whatever you are offered and not ask for what is due.
The fight for what is right is not an easy task, but that is what you have to sacrifice for freedom. Freedom is not something you achieve comfortably. It would be hard most of the time, but remember that the valor of the fallen soldiers from the Bataan Death March and Fall of Bataan will continue to endure through every Filipino who continuously fights for the country’s good.
As we celebrate the Day of Valor today to honor the noble survivors and fallen of that conflict, we, at Dakila, hope that their courage lives on within ourselves in the everyday battles we encounter. Let us remain vigilant in ensuring that our rights are honored and respected, and that our country remains free.