surrender on bataan

National holidays, or should I say, ex-national holidays, like April 9, always results in my starting the day in a fury that has me seeing red until exhaustion sets in at night, by which time I’m simply reduced to being depressed. There is something particularly offensive about present-day generations having the gall to detach a commemoration from the date on which it actually happened, and on which it ought to be commemorated in perpetuity.

Today’s Inquirer editorial is titled, simply, Bataan.

Relevant readings for today are from the Philippine Diary Project.

I first came to appreciate diaries by reading a condensed version of the diary of Samuel Pepys. Finding it online in Pepys’ Diary finally provided the impetus to attempt to undertake something similar.

One of the diaries is that of an officer at Bataan.

Begin with March 20, 1942, when the generals saw the writing on the wall; then proceed to March 31, 1942, when the troops realized the “zero hour” had arrived; the final days of resistance on April 2, on April 3, on April 4, on April 5, and then, finally, April 8… and then the surrender, as chronicled further from April 8-9, 1942, on to the Death March as detailed on April 10, 1942 and then imprisonment as chronicled on April 16, 1942 and April 17, and April 18 and April 19, and April 20 and finally, April 21, 1942.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

29 thoughts on “Eyewitnesses

  1. as a nephew of a death march survivor(only to die of gangrene at camp o’donnell in tarlac), i read with a sense of pride, tempered with deep sadness, the account of mr. philip buencamino. my uncle ernest was my father’s younger and only brother, and he died in the prime of his life. the sufferings of our people during the japanese-american war are a reminder to our youth of the value of peace with honor, and the costs of fighting for our beliefs.

    in these day and age of instant and “manufactured” heroes, genuine champions of our nation are hard to come by. current and future generations need be given examples of true heroism. discontinuing the commemoration of our past heroes and their deeds of greatness is most certainly not the way to do it.

  2. in this day and age, actual commemoration day gives way to 3- or 4-day weekend off…the holiday economics championed by our heroine. long live our…

    heroes…and may they understand that their deeds of greatness are continually remembered…or so our heroine figures people will do as they bask in the sun lying on the beach…also thanking the prolonged vacation. long live our…

  3. This bastardization of national holidays should stop. It’s steadily robbing us of our national identity and historical sense.

    My younger brother was surprised there was even a Bataan Day or Araw ng Kagitingan!

  4. holiday economics is a law…ra 9492:

    The following are the dates of regular holidays (update: here’s the list of public holidays and declared special non-working holidays for October, November and December 2007, as well as national regular and special holidays for 2008):

    New year’s Day (January 1)
    Maundy Thursday (Movable date)
    Good Friday (Movable date)
    Eidul Fitr (Movable date)
    Araw ng Kagitingan (Monday nearest April 9
    (Bataaan and Corregidor Day)
    Labor Day (Monday nearest May 1)
    Independence Day (Monday nearest June 12)
    National Heroes Day (Last Monday of August)
    Bonifacio Day (Monday nearest November 30)
    Christmas Day (December 25)
    Rizal Day (Monday nearest December 30)

    On the other hand, the following are nationwide special holidays:

    Ninoy Aquino Day (Monday nearest August 21)
    All Saints Day (November 1)
    Last Day of the Year (December 31)

    quoted from jaromay-laurente-pamaos law blog

  5. Ngayong “Araw ng Kagitingan”, naaalala ko yung lolo ko na nagsilbi nung WWII bilang isang doktor.

    There’s a corner in my grandfather’s house where his mementos during those days are stashed — pictures of the times he was in get-togethers with American officers, his old service revolver, etc.etc.

    It also grates me that the significance of this holiday to students and office workers seems to be — “Uy! Walang pasok.” The other day, one of the people I work with took advantage of the long weekend to go to Boracay. It’s really very disappointing.

  6. I think that we should be adopting a quintessentially European custom–something like a long silence at an hour when everyone’s out. If we have a so-called transferred holiday, I think the government should acknowledge the REAL date of a celebration like this by mandating that the cars stop, the trains stop, people stop working, horns blare, etc. at a certain hour, say eleven, to remember those who have died for our nation. Then we observe a long period of silence for say, two minutes. Then we all sing the National Anthem right after that, or have it played. Penalties of course for those who fail to observe it, as it is considered a gross act of disrespect for the nation.

    I think the Government is trivializing the value of what our forebears have achieved, and I think this is one way of repairing the damage this pathetic policy has caused.

  7. Boring. Two of my grandfather’s brothers got beheaded by the Japanese (in the Plaza) in front of their family, but it’s not like we want to recall that day.

  8. My grandfather, a dentist in Pili, was picked up by the Japs who accused him of aiding and abetting the guerillas. His family never saw him again. My grandmother, then barely out of her teens, remarried a death march escapee who then headed a band of guerillas in the Bicol area. He had a small group of them, one of whom was a young man from Sorsogon who eventually rose to prominence. We know him now as Manoy or Eddie Garcia. 🙂

    My great grandfather’s brother fought the Spaniards, then the Americans, as a general in the revolutionary forces. He eventually became the first Filipino president of the PNB during MLQ’s presidency. (Ok so his record at the bank wasnt exactly exemplary but that’s beside the point.)

    Me? The only scrapes Ive been in have been with rival street punks. 😉

    Mabuhay ang mga bayani. Mabuhay tayong lahat.

  9. actually, my uncle was a death march survivor. I remember him telling us all kinds of stories during the siege of Bataan. He was a very good story teller but I realized later on that added some details to make stories more appealing. Well, he died some ten years ago without fully getting the benefits due him. Actually, i considered him a war hero not because of his war exploits.
    During his captivity, he was made a cook in the Capas concetration camp. That was here his heroism, although not his intention, came in. Imagine cooking food for thousands of prisoners with a very limited food supply.
    I am very sure he was able to prolong the lives of some prisoners, some even survived the war, through his cooking “abilidad”. Well, that’s his story. My Bataan hero.

  10. The point, JEQ, is who really wants to recall these days but politicians benefiting from the names of dead heroes. These things are traumatic experiences and have affected families to this day. How many have had babies from Japanese rapists. Nalahiaan pero ayaw umamin. If you’re in the upper class, these things are unmentionable. If you’re in the lower class, you’d get teased and bullied.

  11. frombelow,

    That “abilidad” was probably adding feces to the soup. Fecal matter is nutritious, ask the pigs, and I’ve herd some starving families stew feces. I’ve heard.

  12. The point, JEQ, is who really wants to recall these days but politicians benefiting from the names of dead heroes.

    So youre saying we should just de-holiday-ize Araw ng Kagitingan? Make it an ordinary day?

    I like frombelow’s story, btw. Especially the part about embellishing the story to make it more appealing. There’s value in ‘mythologizing’. One it does make stories more appealing and therefore ensures survives the generations, and two, it’ll give historians something to do.

  13. I can understand how Manolo feels. When one appreciates history, and is moved by it, one cannot but feel… outraged when the sacrifice and heroism of our forefathers is so casually trivialized.

    But in my opinion, this isn’t the fault of our political leaders alone. Even with the holiday economics thingy, I think that if the general populace retain that appreciation for these holidays, they will be properly celebrated or commemorated by the people.

    How many kids these days know the significance behind holidays like Araw ng Kagitingan? In my opinion, the young can’t really be faulted because, in those years of extreme impressionability, all they remember from Sibika class was rote learning.

    And then I hear the feedback from young people who go to, say, the Museum of Ninoy’s life and works in Tarlac, especially after watching the documentary. They are moved by it. Or what about those who initially went to Corregidor because it wasn’t your usual gimmick, only to leave that storied island fortress with a sense of what it must have felt for Wainwright and his gallant men and women, especially after they’ve gone through Malinta Tunnel?

    A way MUST be found to make our young appreciate their people’s history. Kaya ganito ang Republika ngayon eh. Stakeholdership – with the attendant vigilance against anything that would threaten the fabric of one’s society – is hard to come by if your people’s roots are on flimsy topsoil.

    Actually, hearing the stories of the others up there of their lolo’s exploits makes me want to suggest that, while some of them are still alive, perhaps we can record these “anecdotal” retellings of those years. Sayang kasi eh. It might help “humanize” at least that part of our history and could reduce the impression that history is all about dates and memorization. People like reading about stories, after all.

    For my part, my lola loves to talk about her experiences during Wartime. It was a hard life, she said, and she had to find work, but you could hear a sense of it being an adventure for her at the time. Tuwang-tuwa daw yung hapon sa kanya kasi she learned Nihongo ^_^

    Hell, my grandmother knows more Nihongo than I do, and I had 6 units of it in college.

    Asteeg talaga yung generation nila, ano?

  14. To Remember the Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifices and were laid in Flanders
    Field in Belgium and numerous other resting Places in Europe fighting the Worlds Wars and all the wars including the mission in Afghanistan, the Veterans that made home, the Day of the Poppy (Remembrance Day) is Celebrated and Observed on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th Month and is not a Non-Working Holiday…

    The Veterans themselves do not want it declared a Statutory Holiday, as the Public will just Celebrate it as Just Another Holiday and will someday lose its Significance.

    They (Veterans) wanted that if the 11th Day falls in a weekday where it is a School Day, the School Children will discuss the significance of the Day and observe the Moment of Silence a the strike of the Clock, so as that Generations of Canadians will never forget the Significance and the Sacrifices that give them the Freedoms and Prosperity they are enjoying and that the sacrifices of the young men and women who bravely crossed the ocean and fight with valour and courage expected of soldiers will be forever cherished and remembered…The Heroes of Bata-an deserve the Same Treatment…

  15. Manolo,

    I am one of those who feel violated with the holiday economics’ trivialization of national holidays. And is there a law on this now? I mean how would you feel if your own birthday was moved to another date, depending on convenience and it keeps changing every year? It’s way too crass and really unbelievable for its desecration of our history and tradition.

    I am just wondering why the so-called historical societies (do we have such things here?) or history academicians did not do anything about this or raised a mega howl. You know filed a formal protest so that the government would back down from implementing this exercise.

  16. http://www.thememorialdaytribute.com/memorial-day-dates.html

    Dates For Memorial Day Till 2015
    Though, traditionally Memorial Day was celebrated on 30th of May every year, today the holiday is celebrated on the last Monday of May to extend the weekend by a day. However, many people do not find the idea appealing and keep protesting to the change. The traditional memorial date is on 30th May but as the last Monday of Monday keeps falling on different dates, here are the dates of Memorial Day from 2004 to 2015:
    2004 – May 31
    2005 – May 30
    2006 – May 29
    2007 – May 28
    2008 – May 26
    2009 – May 25
    2010 – May 31
    2011 – May 30
    2012 – May 28
    2013 – May 27
    2014 – May 26
    2015 – May 25

  17. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterans_Day

    Veterans Day is an American holiday honoring military veterans. Both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states, it is on the Monday of the week of November 11th each year. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.)

    The holiday is commonly printed as Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day in calendars and advertisements. While these spellings are grammatically acceptable, the United States government has declared that the attributive (no apostrophe) rather than the possessive case is the official spelling

  18. At least yung mga Onaks di sa beach pumupunta ; they prepare, they travel and they commemorate.

  19. The Second World War happened 60 years ago and the U.S. military is in another combat campaign in the GWOT and no one seems to care. GWT – Global War on Terror

    “For the majority of Americans who haven’t met any of the brave troops who’ve been cavalierly tossed into the quagmire, the war is out of sight and mind in a way Vietnam never was. Only 28 percent of Americans knew American casualties in Iraq were nearing 4,000 last month, according to the Pew Research Center. The Project for Excellence in Journalism found that by March 2008 the percentage of prominent news stories that were about Iraq had fallen to about one-fifth of what it was in January 2007. It’s a poignant commentary on the whole war that Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the nonpartisan advocacy group, was reduced to protesting the lack of coverage.” Frank Rich NY Times

    I think that every year we should have at least three minutes of silence on the day the government could choose to remember and thank those who have died in the service of their country.

    Engaging in rituals is ok for some but all should participate in honoring the fallen.

  20. As a kid in the 70’s, i came to appreciate Bataan Day by watching reruns of that Filipino movie they show in RPN 9 in the afternoons. It was the first movie where the Japanese soldiers did not directly charge in front of the Filipino machine guns in order to be mowed down. I was puzzled at first on why the good guys were losing but i eventually came to appreciate the historical significance of that period.

  21. My younger brother was surprised there was even a Bataan Day or Araw ng Kagitingan!

    Maybe he was absent when that was taught in history?

  22. instead of engaging in blame game, bloggers can help perptuate significant events in history by allotting one entry for a particular holiday.

    mahirap ba yon?

  23. People have mixed feelings because we were not really victorious in the wars we fought: revolution against Spain, rebellion against the Americans, and U.S.-sponsored war against the Japanese.

    That’s why it’s called Araw ng Kagitingan (Valor). There will much more pride in Victory. Maybe if we could include Lapulapu’s win over the first Spanish armada. Hmmm.

  24. People have mixed feelings because we were not really victorious in the wars we fought: revolution against Spain, rebellion against the Americans, and U.S.-sponsored war against the Japanese.

    It is not the winning which is important, it is how we fought against the agressors.

    Maybe it is time for you to read the stories of the survivors of the death march and the war.

  25. Suggestions:

    1. Don’t change the day of Holidays to keep their significance.
    2. All students in History classes from elementary to college should write an essay on the significance of the particular holiday, the day prior to it observance.
    3. All emergency sirens (including church bells if the priest agree)should be on for at least a minute at noontime of the holiday.( Di ba dati may dublas tuwing may namatay? Eh di mas dapat na kalembangin ang kampana dahil libo ang namatay noong Bataan Day)
    4. All flags should be at half mast during the holiday.

    My uncles, cousins and the altas in Sierra Madre were guerillas during WWII. My Dad’s farm was ransacked by the Japs several times and took all the vegetables, chicken and pigs (lalo na iyong pinakamalaking baboy na kakatayin sana sa binayagan ng utol ko)

    Three of my first cousins died during martial law by snipers bullets, one in the army,two in the Ranger batallions. But that’s another story if there will be a holiday for martial law casualties.

    As for me, I just experienced the pandemonium in Recto, Espana and Morayta. Nothing really serious physically.

    However, I felt the goose bumps when I entered the Malinta Tunnel, the One Mile Barracks and when I perched on the biggest canon I have ever seen in, Corregidor. More than the creepy feeling Morgan Freeman felt when he entered the slave ship in “Amistad”, more than the creepy feeling I experienced in the Dungeon in a slave market in Charleston, SC nor the sight of Fort Sumpter from South Battery.

  26. Jhay:

    This bastardization of national holidays should stop. It’s steadily robbing us of our national identity and historical sense.

    My younger brother was surprised there was even a Bataan Day or Araw ng Kagitingan!

    it’s all part of the plan man. sheep don’t have much of a sense of identity, yeah?

  27. This really started with people deciding to celebrate their birthdays on the weekend nearest to their natal days so that guests can attend the party! 🙂

    I will have none of these. I celebrate my birthday on the day itself.If the guests can’t come then that’s their loss. They can’t have a slice of my deelish cake!

    Seriously, who can even think of Boracay and holiday economics since Monday is a no work day when paychecks are barely if able to meet daily needs?

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