Central Luzon

Hundreds join 160-kilometer Freedom March to commemorate Battle of Bataan

Joann Manabat

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Hundreds join 160-kilometer Freedom March to commemorate Battle of Bataan

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Veterans Bank Freedom March

The 'Freedom March' follows the trail of the actual historical route of the Death March

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Around 450 individuals joined the 160-kilometer relay walk from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac in commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of the Battle of Bataan.

The “Freedom March” followed the trail of the actual historical route of the Death March which kicked off at Mariveles Park in Bataan to Capas National Shrine in Tarlac from March 16 to 17.

According to Mike Villareal, head of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines Sons and Daughters Association Inc, the tribute commemorates the valor and sacrifices of the Filipino and American heroes of the Battle of Bataan.

In April 1942, 66,000 Filipino and 10,000 American prisoners of war (POW) were forced by the Japanese military to march the 160-kilometer trail during World War II. Thousands of POWs died during the march, either from cruel treatment by the Japanese military or through starvation and disease.

Villareal said around 450 individuals – including the descendants of the war, historians, and locals and 150 reservists of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – registered for the two-day event.

“We want different people from all walks of life to experience this. We want to show the kilometer markers and the names of those who died each stop,” Villareal told Rappler on Monday, March 11.

FREEDOM MARCH. 59-year old Marilou Ingua (2nd to right) completes the two-day 160-km Freedom March in honor of her late veteran grandfather and her story as a cancer survivor during the commencement of the event at the Capas National Shrine on Sunday, March 17. Ingua is the first to reach the final leg of the Freedom March. Joann Manabat/Rappler

“Basically it’s the same route except since we will be walking, it will take almost two to four days. So it started on Friday night through Saturday midnight and then it will finish, the way we see it, on Sunday around 6 p.m.,” he added.

The participants are divided into groups comprising 50 to 100 individuals who walked in a 10-kilometer segment from Bataan to Capas. A Freedom March flag is also passed at each segment, said Villareal.

A reenactment of the Death March was also held at the Capas National Shrine to commence the two-day activity.

From Mariveles Park to Capas National Shrine, the 11 pit stop locations are at the following:

  • Cemetery along Roman SuperHighway – 2 am 
  • Limay Bridge – 4 am
  • Puting Buhangin Elementary School – 6 am
  • Plaza Balanga – 10 am
  • Calaylayan Bridge – 4 pm
  • Iglesia Ni Cristo, Orani Bataan – 7 pm
  • First Line of Defense Memorial, Dinalupihan – 1 am
  • RBL Vulcanizing Shop – 3 am
  • Louis and Martini Fashion Hub – 5 am
  • Capitol Building, City of San Fernando, Pampanga – 7:30 am
  • People’s Park, Capas, Tarlac – 4 pm

The Freedom March is organized by the Philippine Veterans Bank in partnership with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, the Department of National Defense, and the Wartime Heritage Guild. – Rappler.com

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