AAP’s 3rd Capas news-Freedom March Commemorates 75th Anniversary of Death March
Members of the Philippine Living History Society re-enacted the Death March.
Seventy-five years after, at break of dawn, a new generation marched 10 kilometers in Tarlac to commemorate one of the country’s greatest historical events —the Fall of Bataan.
Last April 11, hundreds of civilians, government employees and military officers and troops participated in the 3rd Capas Freedom March held by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) to pay tribute to prisoners of war who were forced to make the 106-kilometer trek from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.
The 3rd Capas Freedom March was the final part of a three-day commemorative event honoring the Filipino veteran’s courage and bravery.
In cooperation with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Defense (DOD), Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), Philippine Veterans Bank, Philippine Airlines, Globe Telecom, Petron, Municipality of Capas and Province of Tarlac, the Philippine Veterans Week commenced with the Freedom Run held on April 9 in commemoration of “Araw ng Kagitingan.” The following day, the “Padyak Para Sa Kagitingan” was held and the festivities concluded with the Capas Freedom March.
This year, hundreds of civilians including walk-in participants, students from schools like De La Salle University, and employees from government agencies such as the Department of Education joined members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and Girl Scouts of the Philippines. A ceremonial passing of the torch marked the start of the march at Capas People’s Park around 5AM and ended at the Capas National Shrine at 9AM.
“Since we started the Capas Freedom March in 2015, the number of participants has continuously grown,” said AAP Travel and Tourism Trustee Mina Gabor. “There are a lot of people who join marathons and walks abroad and some of those events don’t even have a cause. We hope that more people would recognize what we’re doing here and join us.”
Gabor recounted that she, AAP trustee David Arcenas and several representatives from the DOD and DOT flew to Hawaii last February to promote participation in next year’s Capas Freedom March.
“It was sad to know that when we were talking to some of the veterans, they did not know what we were doing here,” Gabor added. “What we found surprising, though, was that we were able to convince a lot of millennials there. So we are hoping that all of you here, especially the young, would tell your friends and families to join our march.”
Mariveles-San Fernando-Capas Freedom Trail for Historical Tourism
During the ceremonies, Gabor encouraged everyone to look at what future events such as the Capas Freedom March can bring to provinces such as Tarlac.
The former Tourism Secretary noted that “If we are able to spread, even just by word of mouth, what we are doing here, we don’t only promote the rich history of our country, we can also bring a brighter future for those who are living in Capas. There may come a time that masses of people will travel here for this event and that would bring good business to the resorts, the local shops and everyone here.”
Capas Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan also recognized the third successful staging of the Capas Freedom March, not only as a tribute to the municipality’s past, but also as a road to progress for its future.
Meanwhile, former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was the guest of honor and speaker, expressed the hope that future commemorations of historical events such as the Bataan Death March would attract more people. Not only does he want more people to recognize the courageous Filipinos of the past, but also for the world to recognize what a great nation the Philippines is, especially when we work together.
“We should work in a hurry,” Ramos said. “We should build better roads so that more people can visit. Put more facilities out there for the public to visit and put more sites similar as this one (Capas National Shrine). There are some in Iloilo, in Cebu, in Cabanatuan, in Cabanatuan that need to be upgraded.”
Ramos emphasized once more the role that everyone, particularly the millennials, could play for a better future as explained by Gabor. He said that through tourism, communicating and cooperating with other nations, the Philippines can achieve its goals.
“The future is already here, embodied in the United Nations Assembly on Sustainable Development convened in September 2015. The millennials know this. The 195 nations of UN pledged to fulfil 17 sustainable development goals by 2030. It will take a lot of work. But together, kaya natin ‘to,” Ramos concluded.