About 50 people attended the first ever commemoration of the “Day of Valor” in the CNMI last Wednesday, April 9, at the Minatchom Atdao Pavilion in Susupe.
The 72nd anniversary of the Bataan Death March is remembered in the Philippines on April 9 as the “Araw ng Kagitingan” (Day of Valor), which marks the fall of Bataan during World War II, when more than 76,000 Filipino and American soldiers surrendered to Japanese troops. These prisoners of war were forced to walk the 90-mile distance from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac—the infamous Death March—during which thousands died or were killed.
This national holiday in the Philippines highlights the greatness and heroism of Filipino and American soldiers during World War II.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Reflection on the sacrifices of our veterans, a guide to a path for changes.”
U.S Pinoys for Good Governance Marianas chapter chair Dr. Celia Lamkin said she thought about commemorating this occasion here in the CNMI because she had noticed that it has never been observed on Saipan despite its large Filipino community.
“This is a very important part of the history shared by the Philippines and the U.S. In addition, the Filipino youth who were born and raised in the CNMI and other Filipinos will become aware and educated on the importance of April 9,” Lamkin said.
One of the guest speakers, Maria Theresa DLR Dizon, who is floor leader of the 14th CNMI Youth Congress, urged the people who attended to be proud of where they came from and that the men who fought will never be forgotten.
“If we should be anything, we should be grateful for their service. …they were persistent even though if they fall or trip, they were persistent, even though they were tortured during the walk, they were persistent….why? Because they loved their people, they loved their country, and I want to ask you not to forget where you come from,” Dizon said.
Another guest speaker was Rolando Olais, a veteran’s son, whose father was one of those who survived the Death March. His father’s name is Tito Olais, who passed away when he was 82 years old.
Other guests were Sen. Ray Yumul (Ind-Saipan) and Danny Bigalbal of the El Shaddai Charismatic Group.
Lamkin said that she will push for the occasion’s commemoration the next year. “This holiday should be recognized and celebrated,” she said.