Bataan Day, alternatively called Day of Valour, or Araw ng Kagitinganan in Filipino, is the national observance commemorating the “Fall of Bataan” during World War II. It is celebrated on April 9. The monument called the Mount Samat Shrine, Shrine of Valor, or the “Dambana ng Kagitingan” in Pilár, Bataan is where formal rites are held. Built in 1966, it was erected to commemorate the battles of Filipinos and Americans against the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
At dawn on 9 April 1942, against the orders of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Jonathan Wainwright, the commander of the Luzon Force, Bataan, Major General Edward P. King, Jr. surrendered more than 76,000 starving and disease-ridden soldiers (67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese Filipinos, and 11,796 Americans) to Japanese troops .
The majority of these prisoners of war had their belongings confiscated before being forced to endure the infamous 140 kilometre (90 mile) Bataan Death March to Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. En route, thousands died from dehydration, heat prostration, untreated wounds, and wanton execution while walking in deep dust over vehicle-broken Macadam roads, and crammed into rail cars for transport to captivity.
The few who were lucky enough to travel by truck to San Fernando, Pampanga would still have to endure more than 25 additional miles of marching. Prisoners were beaten randomly and often denied promised food and water. Those who fell behind were usually executed or left to die, the sides of the roads becoming littered with dead bodies and those moaning for help.
Only some 54,000 of the 76,000 prisoners reached their destination; the exact death toll is difficult to assess because thousands of captives were able to escape from their guards. Approximately 5,000-10,000 Filipino and 600-650 American prisoners-of-war died before they could reach Camp O'Donnell
2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan, which was commemorated at Mount Samat Shrine in Pilár, Bataan by some of the over 18,000 still-living Filipino veterans.
Incumbent President Benigno S. Aquino III and former President Fidel V. Ramos attended this year's rites. Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshina Urabe expressed "deep apology and a deep sense of remorse to the tragedy", while United States Deputy of Mission Leslie Bassett (representing American Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr.) said their Embassy has provided a total of US$220 million to Filipino war veterans.
The Memorial Cross
The Memorial Cross is a towering structure at the highest point of Mount Samat, 555 m above sea level. The monument is made of steel and reinforced concrete with a lift and viewing gallery at the Cross's arms. A staircase also leads to the gallery in the wings. The height of the Cross is 92 m from the base; the height of the arms is 74 m from the base, with each arm measuring 30 m (15 on each side). The viewing gallery is 5.5 m by 27.4 m, with a 2.1 m clearance.
The exterior of the Cross is finished with chipped granolithic marble. The base until the 11 m level is capped with sculptural slabs and relief titled Nabiag Na Bato also by Abueva, depicting important historical figures and events like the execution of Jose Rizal, Lapu-Lapu and Antonio Luna.
Location of the Shrine
The Shrine complex is part of Barangay Diwa in Pilár, Bataan. From Manila, the complex can be reached via the North Luzon Expressway (Balintawak Cloverleaf) and the SCTEX exit in Mabalacat, Pampanga which leads to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. Follow the signs to Subic, and exit at Dinalupihan then turn right at the Roman Highway. Upon reaching the Mt. Samat junction after about 24 km, turn right. After about 4.5 km towards Mt. Samat, to the left is a 6.5 km uphill road to the shrine.