Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Capas Freedom March 2015: An Invitation to Relive Heroes' Track

Dioramas at the Museo ng Tarlac. Photo: Bernard Supetran
The Philippines is rich in history; and the bloody years of  World War II takes up a big portion of the story line.  We do not have a shortage of heroes, who fought side by side with the Americans against the Japanese.  Brave Filipinos gave their lives for our freedom in different parts of the country, and significant among those are the fallen soldiers during the infamous Death March in the summer of 1942.

Actual Bataan Death March in 1942. File photo.
Going back in time on April 9, 1942, some 60,000 Filipino-American troops joined the Death March, after the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Army. There are a lot of documentation and literature written about this fateful day, and what followed next was totally horrendous. 

Train coach used to transport prisoners.  Photo: Bernard Supetran
Under the scorching heat ot the sun, the Fil-Am prisoners of war (POW), were forced to march 88 kilometers (55 miles) from Mariveles, Bataan up to San Fernando, Pampanga.  From there, they were loaded to jam packed trains, and brought in like chickens to Camp O'Donell in Capas, Tarlac, where they were imprisoned for the next three years.

Out of the 60,000 troops, only 54,000 reached the camp, and between 7,000 - 10,000 soldiers perished along the road in what is regarded as among the worst war crimes in history.

To commemorate the valor of these brave men, Capas Freedom March is created. The invitation extends to everyone, young and old, veterans or relatives of soldiers, individuals, corporations or groups to participate in retracing the last few miles of this fateful event.

Organized by the Department of National Defense - Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, the Province of Tarlac, Municipality of Capas, Automobile Association Philippines, and AAP Travel, with Philippine Airlines as official carrier, the march is set on April 11 from the People's Park to the Capas National Shrine. Initiated by the Bataan Memorial Death March over 25 years ago, commemorative events has grown to over 12,000 marchers and volunteers across the Asia-Pacific region.

(L-R) Mr. Gus Lagman, President of AAP, Ms. Marissa Vidal, Tourism Officer of the Capas Government Office, Ms. Eva Carmona, Vice-President of AAP Travel, Dr. Mina Gabor, President AAP Travel, and Brig. Gen. Resty Aguilar, Head of the Philippine Veterans Office of the Department of National Defense.

Former Department of Tourism Secretary, and current president of AAP Travel, Dr. Mina Gabor, Freedom March also propels tourism in the country, aside from it being the biggest annual gathering of marchers to commemorate a historical event.  Furthermore, it promotes freedom, world peace and international goodwill.  "Local and foreign military personnel who have fought in a war such as the Korean War and the Asia-Pacific War, are invited to participate." She adds, "Family members and friends of veterans, will march together united as one in remembering the sacrifice of the heroes."

Capas National Shrine Memorial Slab.  Photo:  Bernard Supetran

Proceeds of the project will support the construction of the Capas Concentration Camp Replica.  The organizers are also eyeing on providing educational scholarship to deserving children of soldiers who were killed in action.

Dr. Gabor, who is always an advocate of local tourism, continues to encourage everyone to appreciate historical events in the country.

Capas Freedom March is open to the public.  

Register by visiting this website: or call AAP Travel at 551-0014 up to 25.  E-mail:

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