Walking non-stop under the scorching heat of the sun. A meager food and water or, if very unlucky, nothing at all. Subjected to inhumane treatment and seemingly endless torture of walking miles after miles.
These are the horrendous experience of Filipino and American soldiers during the World War II under the ruthless Japanese imperial army. Many have fought and sadly lost their lives while others are forced to participate in the tragic death march.
As tragic as this dark history may be, it also shows the patriotism, heroism, and camaraderie of these brave soldiers. Who are now in the twilight of their lives, the war veterans.
To make sure that this bravery for the motherland will never be forgotten and always remembered, the Philippine Veterans Bank in cooperation with their partners, launch their 5th annual Bataan Freedom Run 2018 and Freedom Trail 2018. These events are in line to commemorate with the 76th Bataan Death March Anniversary and Philippine Veterans Week.
Mr. Roberto De Ocampo, chairman of PVB, said that these events is part of the core values of Veteran’s Bank to show the Filipino and American veterans are always remembered. That their bravery and values are not forgotten. He also invited the youth and the current generation to join the event.
“We are hoping that quite a lot of our youth will be there to participate.” Adding that, “these event is to highlight Filipino heroism.”
The Bataan Freedom Run is slated on April 8, 2018. Running enthusiasts, kids and adults are encouraged to participate in the said marathon. The fun run will follow the route of the historic Death March starting at kilometer zero in Mariveles, Bataan.
This consist of 42-kilometers full marathon suited for professional runners, a 21-kilometers half-marathon, as well as 10-kilometers for running enthusiasts, a 5-kilometers run, and a 1-kilometer run for kids and pets.
Per PVB Vice President Miguel Angelo Villa-Real, different categories are included so that everyone can participate and enjoy the said event.
“Other than the local government unit, we are planning to invite participants from different schools and universities here in Metro Manila. Especially the ROTC cadets.”
PVB is also planning to do a multimedia advertisement to spread the news to entice more participants. The said events are projected to have at least 5,000 participants.
Meanwhile, the Mariveles-San Fernando-Capas Freedom trail will be held earlier from March 24-25, 2018. This will trace the route from kilometer zero in Mariveles all the way to Capas, Tarlac. Three event categories are slated for this event: a 160-kilometer competitive relay, the Ride for Valor suited for big bikers, and the Freedom March which will be a torch-passing relay for youth groups. This is the second year of the Freedom Trail.
Villa-Real emphasized that these different categories are crafted to make sure participants will enjoy the twin events to the fullest.
Support from Government
Furthermore, this participatory way of commemorating the Death March anniversary is lauded by the Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. As Undersecretary Brigade General Ernesto Carolina stressed, the Death March is love for the country and a selfless sacrifice.
“It is not enough to see. What is important is you can feel it, you experience it, and get through with it.”
Carolina in a light manner said that they are most likely to join the events. To show support aside from being partners with PVB.
This event is in cooperation with the Bataan government unit. Albert Garcia, governor of Bataan, encouraged the millennials to join from all parts of their province and Metro Manila. He said that this event could help the growth of Bataan tourism. Noting that these events support the projects intended for the livelihood of the veterans.
“Hopefully this year, we are hoping that we could invite more participants.”
He jokingly added that they are planning to run in the marathon together with Defense Secretary Lorenzana.
Fund Raising Event
Additionally, the proceeds from last year’s BFR and Freedom Trail amounting to half a million was turned over by the PVB to Mr. Robert Hudson of the Filipino-American Memorial Endowment, Inc. (FAME).
FAME is a non-stock organization made up of WWII Filipino and American descendants. They manage the restoration and upkeep of WWII historical markers.
Hudson who was utterly grateful said that “this is the greatest donation we have ever received.”
The BFR and Freedom Trail proceeds will also be given to the FAME to sustain its project of maintain Bataan Death March markers.
Veterans Bank Bataan Freedom Run is organized by Without Limits, presented by the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) in partnership with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), and the Provincial Government of Bataan.
Veterans Bank Freedom Trail is also presented by PVB and organized by Without Limits, is also in partnership with DND, PVAO, Capas Freedom March, and the Provincial Government of Bataan, Pampanga, and Tarlac.
Online registration will start on February 1 to April 1, 2018. Regular Store and on-ground registration will be open from February 15 to April 1, 2018. (Ehlorra Mangahas)