April 9, 1942. Every Filipino veteran remembers the date. It was the day Filipino and American soldiers surrendered in Bataan to the Japanese. The Fall of Bataan. The Surrender. I remember the line “Sumuko na ang mga Amerikano sa Bataan” (The Americans already surrendered in Bataan) in that unforgettable movie “Oro, Plata, Mata” by the cinema genius of a director, Peque Gallaga. So poignant in its truth, so piercing in its pain and hopelessness.
More than 45,692 Filipinos and 9,300 American soldiers who dragged their feet during the Death March from Bataan to this final destination suffered more indignities here. Camp O’Donnell it was then called, then Capas Concentration Camp where 30,000 POWs died from April through June 1942 while under detention.
We honor our fallen heroes here. There is a central walk leading to the peace monument — the Obelisk, the focal center of the shrine. Around it, marble walls bear the names of the fallen, many forgotten over time.
Looking up at the Obelisk, we are reminded how much blood was shed in defense of our independence. At the very least, we owe it to them to preserve the peace and to live in harmony and unity as Filipinos regardless of creed and religious convictions.
A visit to the Capas National Shrine after a trekking adventure in Mt. Pinatubo is recommended. No detours. The Shrine is just a few minutes away and right along the same rad exiting from the Capas meeting point where you board the 4×4 jeeps.
You may also wish to check out my blog on Mount Pinatubo. Just click on this Pinatubo.