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160-KM trail kicks off annual tribute for Bataan Death March heroes and survivors

April 4, 2019

Former US Navy SEALs together with hundreds of our country’s armed forces, police and civilian volunteers, paid tribute to our World War II heroes in a 160 kilometers ‘Freedom Trail’ from KM Zero in Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.      Freedom Trail is an annual event organized by the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB), in partnership with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), and the Provincial Government of Bataan. The event honors the sacrifice and bravery of Filipino and American World War II heroes and survivors. Participants trail the 160 kilometer route that spans three provinces for 42 hours.      Veterans Bank’s Freedom Trail traces the actual route of the Bataan Death March from KM Zero Mariveles in Bataan, to San Fernando Pampanga, up to Capas in Tarlac. The Freedom Trail kicks off the 77th year commemoration of the Bataan Death March.      “Freedom Trail is our way of remembering our World War II veterans’ bravery and heroism during the war. They have sacrificed life and limb for our country’s freedom. Let the Freedom Trail be a constant reminder for our next generations,” said Mike Villa-Real, Head of Veterans Bank’s Marketing Communications Division.      The Death March, considered as one of the darkest days in Philippine History, is the forcible transfer of 60,000-80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war (POW) from Saysain Point, Bagac, Bataan and Mariveles to Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac. The prisoners were loaded onto box cars in San Fernando, Pampanga. The transfer began on April 9, 1942 and left thousands dead and seriously wounded after enduring torture under the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.      The Death March route stretches from Mariveles in Bataan to Capas, Tarlac via San Fernando, Pampanga. The total distance covered was from 96 to 112 kms.      This year’s commemoration activities also includes “Ride for Valor,” a competitive bike tour to be held on March 10 from Kilometer Zero in Bataan to Capas, Tarlac; and the Bataan Freedom Run that will be held on April 14, 2019. Bike and running enthusiasts are invited to register for the events.      Proceeds from the activities will be used for the restoration and maintenance of historical markers along the route of the Bataan Death March.      To register and find out more, visit the Facebook pages of the Bataan Freedom Run and the Veterans Bank Freedom Trail.

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Death March markers found uprooted, damaged by road construction projects

April 3, 2019

When 76,000 Filipino and American prisoners were forced to march from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac during World War II in April 1942, they showed strength and integrity. For three days they marched, starved, saw thousands of their companions die, and faced the brutality of the Japanese captors.      The least we can do to honor such sacrifice for the country is to make sure that their hardships were not to be forgotten, which is why lined on the road to Bataan are markers and monuments that let passersby know that they’re on historical grounds. But it seems like even mementos made of concrete can fall into the pitfalls of neglect and ignorance.      Or in this case, the pits of a road construction project.      According to a Facebook post  by Robert Hudson on a World War II commemoration group, two Death March markers were seen “damaged by road crews” in Mariveles, Bataan and at the Calumpit Bridge in Capas, Tarlac. Hudson is the vice president of the non-profit foundation Filipino-American Memorial Endowment (FAME), which provides the maintenance on all 138 Death March markers.      Hudson, whose father was one of the survivors of the Death March, told Nolisoli.phthat the markers were damaged by contractors hired by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).      The damaged obelisks mark the sixth (Mariveles) and 109th kilometer (Calumpit Bridge) of the Death March.      And it turns out this isn’t the first time a historical marker was damaged.      In an email interview, Hudson said there are many other Bataan Death March markers he had seen destroyed, uprooted, and neglected due to drainage and other DPWH projects.      Some of the markers were covered with rubble to make way for a roadside excavation. Some were left ignored by residents on grassy lawns, which may soon grow out of hand and hide the marker behind its tall leaves.      What we should give utmost respect instead received trash and an untamed, dirty environment.       A lot were removed from their original locations and dumped somewhere else.      The Death March marker bearing the ninth kilometer, one of the markers that were moved, may even be “unsalvageable” according to Hudson. To make way for a drainage ditch, the DPWH contractors destroyed the marker’s base and seemed to have carelessly pushed it backward.      While we understand that the contractors are just doing their jobs, their lack of care for heritage preservation is inexcusable. Their bosses should know better than let them disrespect our heritage landmarks. Even the residents’ attitude towards the status of these markers is unforgivable.      When will we, most especially our “leaders” sitting in their high seats, learn of the significance of history, monuments, and heritage landmarks? When will we start giving importance to things that are actually significant to our country and ourselves?      The disrespect is infuriating.  We have turned exactly into the opposites of how we should treat these markers. They are built so that we can give honor and respect to those who stood up and fought for the country. Yet we give them nothing but dirt and trash. When will we learn that we can do more than just be a disappointment to our heritage?      When it comes to celebrities, even just the tiniest tinge of Filipino blood makes us “proud.” But when it comes to things that are actually worthy of pride and reverence, even ones that are literally rooted on our lands, we’re mute and indifferent. Why is our “pinoy pride” selective? (All featured photos courtesy of Robert Hudson)

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Jaraula leads body to collate CDO history during WW II

April 3, 2019

Former City Mayor Constantino “Tinnex” Jaraula has been named as chairperson of an advisory body tasked to collect and collate historical data, stories and mementos of Cagayan de Oro during World War II. City Mayor Oscar S. Moreno issued Executive Order No. 043-2019 creating the Cagayan de Oro Committee for World War II and Veterans Studies with local economic and investment promotions officer Eileen San Juan and former Oro Chamber president Elpidio Paras as co- and vice chairpersons, respectively. “The present administration is committed to create an atmosphere of heightened awareness, knowledge and appreciation among its constituents on the noble ideas and deeds of our local heroes”, the order reads. It can be recalled that Cagayan de Misamis figured prominently in World War II with its people having been involved in the guerilla movement against Japanese invasion. Cagayan de Misamis was a part of the Breakout Route of Gen. Douglas Mac Arthur having landed at Macabalan Pier in the early morning of March 13, 1942 before proceeding to Del Monte plantation in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon where on March 17, 1942, the general, his family and staff took off for Australia. Eventually, the breakout has changed the course of history in the Pacific during World War ll. Sitting as members of the committee are: Historical and Cultural Commission member Nicolas Aca Jr., Rotary Club of Northern Bukidnon president Dr. Benjamin Albarece, Mindanao Daily editor-at-large Rene Michael Baños, CDO port manager Isidro Butaslac Jr., Philippine Marines veteran Vicente Cabrera Sr.,  Hiscom stakeholders Kerwin Salvador Caragos, Raul Ilogon and Menardo Sonny Tiro III, Heritage Conservation Advocate Clara Marie Elizaga, Ret. Col. Jose Paler of the Veterans Federation of the Phils., PVAO officer Ma. Luisa Revecho, Capitol University History Department professor Ryan Sanchez, and Xavier University History Department professor Kristian Ian Sulmayor. (Ian A. Fuentes/CIO).

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Mutiny at Calaganan : The Forgotten Katipunan Revolt of Mindanao

June 11, 2018

Map of Misamis tracing the path of the Calaganan Mutiny (courtesy of Elson Elizaga)   Many people have tried to win recognition for what local historians claim was the only Katipunan-led revolt in Mindanao at the time of the Cry of Balintawak in 1896, but to this day, the cloak of censorship thrown by Spanish authorities over the so-called Calaganan Mutiny has effectively stifled efforts to put it in its rightful place of honor in the annals of the Philippine Revolution against Spain. Although it remains a little known fact to this day, Misamis was the only region which actively joined the Katipunan revolt against Spain in 1896. It may have occurred over 100 years ago but re-opening the archives on this forgotten chapter of the country's history could change the way the present Philippine flag looks like. Local historians believe government should fund further research into determining if there is a need to makeover the sun in the Philippine flag with nine instead of eight rays. Every grade school student in the country is taught how the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine tricolor represent the eight provinces in Luzon which first rose in revolt against the Spaniards in 1896. But Cagayan de Oro historian Antonio J. Montalvan II says existing historical sources indicate there was one other Katipunan-led revolt in the islands which occurred during that same period in 1896 which has not been recognized by Filipino historians.   Close up of same map.   The Calaganan Mutiny is detailed in the letters of Vicente Elio y Sanchez of Camiguin to the Manila-based Spanish newspaper "La Oceania Española" and two other historical sources but has never been linked to the First Cry of Balintawak led by Andres Bonifacio. Mr. Montalvan believes Mr. Elio's letters never got past Spanish censors anxious to douse support for the revolution which had broken out in Luzon. The mutiny exploded in September 29, 1896 among the so-called "Disciplinarios" or conscripts consisting mostly of convicts from Luzon, who were pressed into battle against the Moros in Lanao. In late August of 1896, the Katipunan revolution against Spain broke out in Luzon. Exactly a month after, or September 29, 1896, a group of Filipinos from Luzon who were deported to the Spanish fort Fuerza Real de la Nueva Victoria in Calaganan (present day Balo-i, Lanao del Norte) for training in military discipline to fight against the Moros of Lanao, mutinied against their Spanish superiors upon receiving instructions from the Katipunan in Manila. They raided the Spanish armory and proceeded to Cagayan de Misamis to attack the town, being joined by some Moros. On the way, they ransacked convents and homes of Spanish peninsulars. However, a joint force of Spanish soldiers and Filipino volunteers led by local hero Apolinar Velez repulsed them in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan. From Cagayan, they proceeded to Sumilao, Bukidnon where they were joined by a band of 50 Higa-onons. They next attacked the Tercio Civil outpost in Balingasag, and raided the outpost of Gingoog on January 1897.   Pio Valenzuela was the trusted aide dispatched by Andres Bonifacio to foment a Katipunan-led rebellion in Mindanao.     Women and children took shelter in the St. Augustine Cathedral while the menfolk joined the Spanish soldiers as Voluntarios to stop the incoming force of Disciplinarios from Calaganan.   By that time, news of Rizal's execution had reached Cagayan and Misamis, and this further stoked the anger of the local Katipuneros. It took the Spanish gunboat Mariveles, recalled from the Tercio Distrito de Surigao, to finally subdue the resistance in Gingoog. This was the only known Katipunan revolt in the entire Mindanao. What is especially unique about this particular mutiny is that besides happening at about the same time as the Katipunan revolt in Luzon, there appears to be a direct link between it and the Katipunan revolt in the person of Pio Valenzuela, a cousin of the amazon warrior Arcadia Valenzuela of Lapasan, Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) who visited Mindanao during this period (ostensibly on instructions from Andres Bonifacio himself!) to instigate a similar revolt in Mindanao . Mr. Montalvan maintains how Augustinian Recollect chronicles confirm that this revolt was in fact instigated by a communication from Katipuneros in Luzon, making Mindanao the ninth province to join the Katipunan revolt, albeit not included in the eight rays of the sun in the Philippine flag which represent the eight provinces which first rose against Spanish tyranny. "We have yet to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the direct link between the Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, but there are extant sources which appear to indicate that such a link did exist, and that Pio Valenzuela did indeed come to Mindanao on the instructions of Andres Bonifacio to foment a revolt against the Spaniards," Mr. Montalvan said.   Formation of Voluntarios who were made up of Cagay-anon volunteers led by local hero Apolinar Velez who routed the Disciplarios in Sta. Ana, Tagoloan with the help of Spanish soldiers.   Another unique aspect of the revolt was that it was participated in by Mindanao's tri-people: the Christian immigrants, the indigenous natives in the person of Higaonons from Bukidnon, and a group of Moros from Lanao, making it not only a Katipunan revolt, but one in which all three of Mindanao's tri-people was represented. "Should a direct link be established between Bonifacio's Katipunan revolt in Luzon and the Calaganan Mutiny, then the people of Mindanao can rightfully petition the national government to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag," Mr. Montalvan said. What needs to be done at this point is to verify primary sources such as the Consular Letters of the French Embassy in Manila to Paris where the Calaganan Mutiny is described in detail, Montalvan added. The letters are now in the archives of the National Museum in Manila, as are other extant documents like the historical account of the Jesuit historian Pablo Pastells in which the Calaganan Mutiny is also described in detail. (originally published in The Philippines Graphic Magazine)   The fortress Fuerza Real de la Nueva Victoria in Calaganan (present day Balo-i, Lanao del Norte) was ransacked by the Disciplinarios on Sept. 29, 1896 to start the only Katipunan-led revolt in Mindanao

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President Manuel Roxas’ 70th Death Anniversary Marked Today

April 3, 2018

He finished law in 1913 from the University of the Philippines College of Law, and passed the bar the same year. His entire political career spans 31 years beginning with his appointment as member of his hometown’s municipal council in 1917, and highlighted by his holding the highest office of the land from May 28, 1946 to April 15, 1948. Roxas is distinctly known in Philippine history for his exemplary leadership and dedication to public service. Inheriting a country in ruins when he took over the reins of government at the end of World War II, this “nation builder” spurred our country’s return to normalcy and growth with his master economic plan, the very first known in developing Asia. The great leader Claro M. Recto claimed that with “the extreme brevity of time fate was to allot to him”, which was barely 23 months into office, no other ruler with such talent and industry could have achieved as much as President Roxas did. In one year of office, President Roxas has provided a leadership which restored national vitality and safely bridged the critical transition period from Commonwealth status to Republic. The late President’s legal mentor and first dean of the UP College of Law George Malcolm believed that few of Roxas’ generation approached him in brilliancy of mind, in breadth of information, and in gift of charm. The late President’s talent was notably evident in pioneer planning in the financial and economic fields. Malcolm wrote “Withal, Roxas was passionately devoted to his country. So honest was he in administering the important positions entrusted to him that, on occasions, he was in financial distress. Roxas died a poor man.” The most profound tribute ever paid Roxas would come from the late President Manuel L. Quezon when he wrote to General MacArthur: “The news that Roxas has fallen in the hands of the enemy has almost broken me completely for I suspect that after his insistent refusal to be the President of the Philippines the Japanese have murdered him. But oh, how proud I am of him! I almost envy him for he had occasion to do what I wanted to do for myself — to tell the Japanese that we want nothing from them. If Roxas has been murdered he is the greatest loss that the Filipino people have suffered on this war. He can’t be replaced. And I don’t know how long this race will produce another Manuel Roxas.” President Manuel A. Roxas succumbed to a heart attack on April 15, 1948 at Clark Field, Pampanga.

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