Every Filipino knows what happened during the Bataan Death March of 1942. It was when the Japanese Imperial Army forcibly transferred about 80,000 Filipino and American prisoner-soldiers from Bataan to the Province of Tarlac during the World War Two. Characterized by various physical abuse and torture, the inhumane treatment of the Japanese army then resulted to thousands and thousands of deaths.
The 106KM Death March Marker
The 128-km march started in Mariveles, Bataan. In Pampanga, many of these Filipino and Japanese soldiers were loaded into boxcars and transported to Tarlac. At the 106km mark, a lot of them were already dead and buried right there in Sto. Domingo, Capas. An inverted-V marker stands proud to this day to remind the Filipinos of it.
At the bottom of the structure is a sculpture that depicts the Japanese forces’ inhumanity towards their prisoners then.
In the 1980’s, a new shrine was built in Barangay O’Donnel in Capas, where Death March had ended. Bones of the dead soldiers buried under the Death March Marker were transferred to this monument so that every 9th of April, Veteran’s Day, all of the perished were commemorated.
Inside the 90-hectare land are thousands of trees that represent each of the perished soldier and an obelisk that point to the heavens. Surrounding this obelisk is a three-segment black wall of heroes, where all the names of the perished may be read.
A little trivia. And this one is hair-raising. Standing on one end of the wall, I whispered something and my friend on the other end heard it perfectly. He answered me back and it was like he was standing right behind me. Our voices were clear and deep. Cool huh?
One of the boxcars that transported the soldiers then still survives and remains to be a mute witness of what happened. It gives me the creeps just looking at its picture. Imagine how my friend and I walked beside it to take pictures.
Also inside the compound is a museum called Hall of Defenders built by a group of Americans. The museum holds photographs of the actual Death March and paintings depicting the lives of the soldiers and the Filipino during WWII.
Near this hall is an area where tombstones for the perished Americans soldiers, whom they called “Battling Bastards of Bataan,” sit quietly. Other tombstones represent other foreign prisoners and officials who have fought for the liberty of the country.
So here’s a piece of my history.
When you visit my home province, the Province of Tarlac, be sure to drop by this historical place!