BONIFACIO GLOBAL CITY, PHILIPPINES. Today is Araw ng Kagitingan, aka “Day of Valor” aka Bataan Day. Some of you have never heard of Bataan Day, others have heard of it only in the context of the 160 Bataan Death March Ultramarathon because you follow my friend, The Running Pastor on twitter.
I’ll never forget taking my young sons on a tour of Corregidor Island. We toured the caves and the Malinta Tunnel that served as General MacArthur’s headquarters. We climbed on the massive cannons, Battery Way, Battery Hearn, and Battery Geary. After that trip, we watched some classic WWII movies.
To understand why today is a non-working holiday in the Philippines we have to go back to Corregidor Island on April 9, 1942. Not many people ignored direct orders from General Douglas MacArthur, but that’s exactly what Major General Edward King did when he surrendered more than 76,000 Filipino, Chinese, and American soldiers to the Japanese.
That surrender was followed by the infamous 140 kilometer (90 mile) Bataan Death March to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. For days the road was littered with the bodies of the dead, as thousands of starving, dehydrated, wounded, disease-racked soldiers could not keep the pace and were left to die. Thousands more were brutally and randomly executed along the way.
Only 54,000 of the 76,000 who surrendered actually made it to Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac where conditions were deplorable. Some escaped along the way, but about 10,000 died on the Death March.
This, like many events in world history, confirms the doctrine of “total depravity” and makes one wonder what atrocities we would commit every day if not for the restraining power of “common grace.”
So, what will you do on Araw ng Kagitingan? If nothing else, why not thank a veteran for their sacrificial service?
If you are interested in a good MacArthur movie, check out Tommy Lee Jones as General Mac in Emperor.