Freedom March: Trace Our Heroes’ Footsteps

Sixty thousand Filipino-American prisoners of war (POWs) were forced to march for 88 kilometers or roughly 55 miles. This was seventy-three years ago.

April 9, 1942 is an infamous day in Philippine history. After the United States Army in the Far East (USAFFE) surrendered to the Imperial Army of the Japanese during World War 2, it was our troops that suffered under extreme conditions, including the scorching heat of the Philippine summer sun.

http://www.flickr.com/people/rainjorque/
The Obelisk at the Capas National Shrine by RainJorque via Wikimedia Commons

From Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, these POWs were made to walk. Once they arrived in San Fernando, they were put inside packed trains heading for Camp O’Donell Capas, Tarlac. As if their suffering wasn’t enough, they were then imprisoned until 1945.

It’s considered one of the worst war crimes in history. Out of the sixty-thousand that marched, only 54,000 reached the camp. Prisoners would be killed and tortured along the way. Incarceration was no reprieve, either, as more prisoners died during this time because of diseases, famine, and poor sanitation.

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On April 11, You can commemorate this event and celebrate the valor of Filipino-American freedom fighters in this year’s Freedom March, reliving the final few miles of that fateful day. The march starts from People’s Park to the Capas National Shrine.

This is the biggest gathering of marchers to remember the historical event that helped win Filipinos the freedom they enjoy today. It is also an event celebrating international good will and world peace.

Dead soldiers on the Bataan Death March
March of Death from Bataan to the prison camp – Dead soldiers via Wikimedia Commons

Mina Gabor, the event organizer and president of AAP Travel, says that the Freedom March is where military personnel (local and foreign alike) who have fought in wars as well as families and friends of veterans can come together to march as a united front as they remember the sacrifice of our heroes. This is also in an effort to promote historical tourism and help Filipinos of today learn from the lessons of our past.

This event is organized by APP Travel, the Automobile Association Philippines, the Department of National Defense – Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, the Municipality of Capas, the Province of Tarlac, and Philippine Airlines as its official carrier.

This event is open to the public. Visit www.capasfreedommarch.com for inquiries or call AAP Travel at 551-0014 / 551-0025 or send an email at info@aaptravel.com.

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