Of that number, there were about 70,000 Filipino and about 12,000 Americans. Two of those Filipino soldiers were the brothers of my aunt, Nanay Juling. She once told me that when she was young, after World War II was over, her father sent her to the USAFFE offices to claim benefits entitled to their family. Since she was the one who could speak English in the family, her father sent her.
Those who surrendered that day in Bataan were made to walk for more than 100 kilometers to San Fernando, Pampanga, in the next province, where they would be loaded to freight trains up to Capas, Tarlac, in another province, and walk further up to Camp O'Donnell, where the so-called Death March ended on April 17, 1942.
It was called the Death March because these prisoners of war walked with no food and water, sick, malnourished and starving. And in the tropical Philippines, April is a very hot month, and walking with torn shoes under the hot sun along mosquito-infested countryside would beat any able-bodied man physically. With no food and water, anyone who could no longer carry on to walk was just killed (perhaps bayoneted) along the way; others were simply left to die by the road side, including those who probably contacted malaria.
And today, along with all of you celebrating the spirit and courage of those who served to defend the Philippines during World War II, I pay tribute to their memory and nationalism, and their gift of the ultimate sacrifice.
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At the National Museum of Philippines, I chanced upon these painting by Filipino artists depicted the horrors of World War II:
'Rape and Massacre' in Ermita by Diosdado M. Lorenzo shows Japanese soldiers raping and slaughtering women in a family home
An untitled painting by Manuel Rodriguez
showing a Japanese soldier about to behead a father, while the mother and child beg for his life
'Death March' by Dominador Castaneda showing dead Filipino soldiers lying on the road, while other soldiers help each other get through the March
'A Tragic Lesson (The Fall of Bataan)
by Gene Cabrera