About 1,000 Filipino soldiers, volunteers and ex-U.S. Navy Seals braved the tropical sun in a three-day a 160-km (100-mile) walk commemorating the Bataan Death March, one of World War II’s most infamous American defeats.
The Freedom Trail March started in the town of Mariveles in Bataan province on Friday, recreating the slow and agonizing march of about 80,000 Filipino and American soldiers that began on April 9, 1942, and took them to the province of Tarlac in Luzon.
Local war historians report anywhere between 5,000 and 18,000 Filipino soldiers and 500 and 650 of their American counterparts died during the march after suffering severe physical abuse or being killed by their Japanese captors.
A shrine to those who died was built in Tarlac province, north of Manila, where many were buried.
Although the “death march” reminds Filipinos and American soldiers of the defeat against and the atrocities of the Japanese soldiers during its occupation of the Philippines, it also “commemorate the ideals, principles exemplified by our veterans by those who were at the death march,” said Ernesto Carolina, the administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.