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Heroism in Bataan

by Francis N. Tolentino

Today we commemorate the bravery and heroism of those who laid down their lives on April 9, 1942, to offer us the liberty we enjoy today. Our history is replete with many acts of valor but the Fall of Bataan is one of the most cherished. We should feel nothing but gratitude and admiration for the men and women who fought, endured, and died defending the sovereignty and independence of this land.

Philippine history books never fail to repeat the sad plight of Filipino and American soldiers who died either of dehydration, hunger, exhaustion, or torture along the way to Capas, Tarlac. Sadly, however, these stories of courage and patriotism seem to have become mere details that students of a history class will have to remember to pass an exam. Appreciation for the true spirit of the Araw ng Kagitingan seem to have gone bleak and each year, April 9 is most awaited by some not to honor our forefathers for their loyalty and courage, but because the day is a national holiday. The growing indifference of many Filipinos has shallowed the meaning of the sacrifice of the Araw ng Kagitingan. For those of us who have the means to remind our fellowmen of the historical importance of this Day of Valor, I encourage you to speak or write about April 9 as a day that significantly altered the life of past, present, and future Filipinos.

While the international community already has several means to peacefully and diplomatically settle disputes, not one of us can ever be really certain that civil wars will not happen again. It is for this reason that we should never allow our young people to lose grasp of the spirits of honor, courage, and patriotism, for these will enable them to similarly make the ultimate sacrifice that our patriarchs did for us. It is very important to instill and nurture the values that made the Filipinos an honorable race – our bravery, our loyalty to country, and our passion for humanity. Patriotism through education will surely take a central role in reviving the essence of this day.

Let us not allow the spirit of the Araw ng Kagitingan drift into the fragile edges of our collective memory. Let this spirit of heroism permeate the heart and soul of every Filipino today and drive each of us to march our way to unity, progress, and peace by cherishing the golden lessons of our rich and unique history.

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