On April 10, 1942, a day after the Fall of Bataan, the forlorn, famished and emaciated USAFFE soldiers would be dealt with inglorious and ignominious ordeal: the infamous Bataan Death March. And it begun in this side of Bataan Peninsula.
A smaller number of Filipino-American forces were herded in the town of Bagac and forced to participate the Bataan Death March on April 11, 1942.
The Bagac prisoners of war (POWs) had just passed the KM1 post. Today, the Filipino-Japanese Friendship Tower stands at the junction near the first kilometer mark.
Finally but sadly, the Battles of Bataan and Corregidor had finally ended in a former house in this lot at 5PM on May 6, 1942 when Corregidor had fallen and Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, the commander of the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), surrendered to Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma, head of the 14th Army.
At KM19, the USAFFE soldiers was approaching the Final Battle Site. On Good Friday, April 3, 1942, the Filipino-Americans had gone through a hellish day brought about by heavy fire from the enemy line.
In this coastal barangay of Lamao in Limay on April 9, 1942, Major General Edward P. King, Jr., commander of the USFIP Luzon Forces, surrendered his command to the Colonel Motoo Nakayama, the senior operations officer of the 14th Army under Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma, overall commander of the Japanese forces invading the Philippines.
From January 27 to February 2, 1942, a bloody confrontation happened in Barrio Capot and Capot Hill. Called Battle of Trail 2, the elements of the I and II Philippine Corps held back the hostile attacks of the Japanese and forcing them to pull out and fall back to their line. But at this point, there was a reversal of fortune.
On April 7-8, 1942, remnants of the II Philippine Corps withdrew from the Pilar-Bagac Line. Reinforced by the entire Luzon force reserves, they launched a last ditch heroic effort to save Bataan. A few days later, it was but a gloomy reminder as the POWs passed by in this battleground.
At the junction of the Bataan Provincial Expresway and the National Road in the town of Orion is a stark reminder of the indescribable sufferings of the Filipino-American forces at the hands of their sadistic captors.
Approximately the midway point of the Death March is the town proper of Orion. But the ordeal seemed to have no end.
At the 1948 London Olympics, the first after the Second World War, Delfo Cabrera of Argentina won the men’s marathon event at 2:34:51.6. But for the captured Filipino and American soldiers who have passed the 42-km mark were still under constant badgering by the merciless Japanese.
“Sealed in blood the permanent ties of friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and the United States.” Thus says a marker in front of Bataan Capitol which was dedicated on April 9, 1952, or ten years after the Fall of Bataan, “to the memory of the gallant Filipino and American soldiers as well as civilians, who fought and died side by side in the defense of democracy.”
The Abucay-Morong Line or the Main Battle Position was established along this point of Abucay. Three weeks later, it was abandoned when the assault was unrelenting. Then by mid-April, those soldiers who fought all the way to Mariveles and Bagac passed by Mabatang, captured but unbowed, temporarily defeated but permanently hailed as heroes.
In between KM62 and KM63, the people of Hermosa risked their lives to provide food and shelter to Filipino and American soldiers during the long, arduous Death March.
The food and drinks secretly given by the courageous people of Hermosa had at least helped the prisoners of war.
On January 6, 1942, the first major USAFFE battle in defense of Bataan took place in Layac Junction, Dinalupihan. More than three months later, the remaining participants in the Battle of Layac Junction returned albeit as prisoners of war. (376)