75th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March of 9th April 1942

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Desperate Fight

Desperate Fight

The day after the Japanese attacked the US Naval Base in Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on 7th December 1941, their troops invaded the Philippines. Within a month Manila was occupied, and the Filipino and American troops became isolated on the Bataan peninsula where pitched battles raged on and off for 3 months, before the Filipino and US troops, dehydrated, starving, sick and worn out, surrendered on 9th April 1942 – the event now known as the ‘Fall of Bataan’.
Somewhere around 70,000 (including 12,000 from USA) allied troops were then subjected to the humiliation of being marched as prisoners for a minimum of 5 days, most from Mariveles and some from Bagac, all the way to San Fernando – some 100 kilometres. From there they were squashed like sardines into enclosed and very hot rail cars and trained to Capas, in Tarlac Province, before a final 11 kilometres walk to Camp O’Donnell. This was the prison in which tens of thousands died over the next 40 months due to continuing starvation, disease and dehydration.
The background to this shameful period during the 2nd World War (1939-45) was the fact that the Japanese soldier was a very proud individual, and had been deeply instilled with the belief that it was entirely honourable to die in battle, rather than to live with absolute dishonour after surrender to an enemy. With this philosophy in mind, the Japanese troops treated the surrendered Filipino and American forces with extreme dishonour, and thousands of hideous tales have subsequently been told of the shameful treatment of the fallen allied prisoners at the hands of the Japanese troops in charge of the event which rightfully became known as the Bataan Death March.
On the march, when prisoners were weak and worn out and fell down or fell behind, Japanese soldiers bayonetted some, and shot others. Beheadings were recorded, and it became known that over the 5 or more day walk the prisoners were only fed with rice on one occasion, and drinking water was very scarce.. Stronger prisoners were disallowed from helping the weaker ones. When Japanese troops found Japanese items like money in the pockets of the prisoners, they reacted with vengeance and killed those who had such items on their person. The true numbers of deaths on the Death March are not known, but some estimates believe that up to 2,500 Filipinos and 500 Americans died or were killed during that vengeful period during the month of April in 1942. It is all a very sad reflection of the viciousness and wicked dehumanising affect of warfare.
In February 1945 Filipino and American troops recaptured the Bataan Peninsula after pitched battles, and by early March Manila was liberated. Finally the Japanese surrendered and the war in the Philippines was over, although one Japanese soldier held his ground till 1976 (31 years after the 2nd WW had ended) on Sabang Island north of Mindoro, believing that the war was still going on – perhaps a hideous reflection of that depth of honour that epitomised the ugly events of the Bataan Death March.
The Bataan Death March was declared as a ‘war crime’, and General Homma Masaharu, the leader of the Japanese invasion forces into the Philippines was held responsible and executed by firing squad on 3rd April 1946.
Bataan Day is again upon us on 9th April, and the Bataan Death March of April 1942 shall never be forgotten on these shores were so many gave up their lives in the on-going struggle to free the Philippines from warfare and occupation. Long Live the Philippines!

Don't give up.

Don’t give up.

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Travel

A 2 Day Outing South of Manila

authortravel Sailing The Coral Carpet

A Scouser, a Greek and a Scotsman rode out of Makati on motorbikes t’other day …. 2 Royal Enfield classic bikes were the main order of the day (now being imported into the Philippines) and the trip through Cavite, Batangas and Laguna was on the cards. The Scouser’s Filipina wife thoroughly enjoyed the trip despite her initial doubts, and the first order of the day was to escape from the hell of Manila traffic …. into the bliss of the Batangas countryside and beachside at Matabungkay.Once through the recent tunnel near Caylabne in Cavite the raw hillsides were an encounter with bliss. A four foot monitor lizard scurried across the road as we roared through the greenness and purity of nature. The Coral Beach Club was a pleasant break from the ride, before the one hour trip up to Tagaytay, and a place with a magnificent view of Taal Lake with a room at $US15 a night. The next morning an early sunny ride winding around the west side of Taal Lake to the historical wonders of Taal Heritage town. There our first visit was to the biggest Catholic church ever built in the whole of Asia, and then the Camera Museum next, with photos from the Philippines as far back as the 1880s. There are several museums in this town which is the 2nd best preserved Spanish town in the whole country after Vigan in Ilocos Sur. The town is brimming with beautiful classic styled Spanish houses on every street corner. A garden break at a classic Spanish house converted to a hotel -Paradores Del Castillo – within its quiet solitude, before we pressed on to Los Banos, and the abundance of its hot spring water pools that are thanks to the active volcanic springs from Mount Makiling with its bubbling mud pools on its upper slopes. A long nights rest re-invigorated us all before we flew back on the Southern Expressway into Manila to be swallowed by the aggressive angry traffic that is the increasing hallmark of Manila.
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Sampaloc Lake

Spain’s heart blooming in Batangas

authortravel Land Journeys

Taal Heritage Town – Bonding with Time
*** *** ***
A few hours ride south of Manila,just west of the southern tip of Taal Lake, lies a small classic town that is brim full of visual and historical interest.
On the hill top looking over the town itself is the impressive Catholic Church of San Martin de Tours. Built in 1856 and reputedly designed after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and it has the modern reputation of being the largest Catholic church ever built anywhere in the whole of Asia. A walk up the ancient stone steps within the belfry brings one to a stone balcony with a magnificent view over the town and beyond, as far as Mindoro Island on a clear day. A host of paintings and artefacts adorn the church premises and it is a worthwhile spirited and soulful visit.
Nearby in the town there are several museums, all within old Spanish houses, one a camera museum with photos from the Philippines dating back as far as the 1880s. Even an ancestral home of one Filipina heroine from the revolution against the Spanish, Gliceria Villavicencio known as the Godmother of the Revolution, can be visited with prior arrangements. The seamstress of the first official Philippine flag was also born here, Marcela Agoncillo, and her house is still heralded as a national shrine, and is a worthy visit and full of memorabilia and rooms preserved in their original styles. The streets are awash with classic Spanish town houses of many shapes and sizes, and a walk down a long flight of ancient stone steps takes one to Caysaysay church and a well which both have mysterious stories surrounding the miracles performed by the Virgin of Caysaysay who lived here in the late 15th Century. Needless to say the water from the well is thought to contain curative powers.
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Travel – A True Education

authortravel Land Journeys

It is said that a man in his life should accomplish three things,“ he should produce a son, plant a tree and write a book.” I produced a son called Bali 18 years ago, planted a cherry blossom tree as a celebration of marriage 20 years ago, and hope to publish a book within the next couple of months on the Philippines. I believe there is one other thing a person should do passionately, and that is travel. The best education you can have is to travel far and wide. After all education is not about filling a bucket, but about lighting a fire. I yearn to travel more, for as far as we know, we only have one life in which to see what there is in this world. I admire and envy Buddhists, for they are smart enough to believe in reincarnation, and can get other chances to explore the realms of the earth on other occasions. I admire the Balinese, for they are Hindus, and believe that heaven is like Bali. This allows them to live in heaven each day o f their earthly life. I admire the Tibetans, for they inhabit the roof of the world and in their presence you feel you are amongst a proud and knowledgeable people They are a people who are atone with nature and their harsh environment. I admire the Zulus in South Africa, and felt honoured to be in their presence, for they too emit an aura of hereditary power and powerful pride. Their warrior history is a remarkable tale. In South America I felt the shame of the destruction of the Inca nation, but was lucky enough to walk on their ingeniously built roads through the Andes mountains. In Singapore and Hong Kong I saw what can be achieved through foundations laid by a powerful colonial presence.
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