Thursday, April 10, 2014
CAPAS, Tarlac-Department of National Defense, through the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), extoled Thursday soldiers who were involved in key allied victories in Northern Luzon during World War II that led to the surrender of Japanese Imperial Army Over-All Commander in the Pacific General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
2LT Mathew Sucdad, PVT Magno Lamsis, PFC Celino Cayad-An, 2LT Domingo Marquez, PVT David Losnong, and PVT Kiplot Sicang received honors during the 2014 Paggunita sa Capaswhich is a remembrance ceremony for the Filipino and American soldiers who were part of the 1942 Death March.
“They were part of the American and Filipino Armed Forces units that successfully liberated the Cordillera after winning in the battles at Bessang Pass, Lepanto Mine and Kiangan. The victory in the battle of Bessang Pass or more popularly known to veterans as the battle at the clouds came after six months of relentless military operations,” PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina shared.
Other awardees were SGT Rufo Yumul, PVT Valentin Taruc, PVT Jose Garay, PVT Limbao Rasuman, PFC Alfonso Betiong and soon to be centenarians CPL Camilo Surel and PVT Jose Tamina.
Posthumous recognitions were likewise given to 2LT Anacleto Badoy, FSGT Marcial Ramos and PFC Ciriaco Villena.
According to historical accounts, around 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forcibly told to march by the Japanese troops for five to six days with no food and a single sip of water.
An estimated 10,000 of these soldiers failed to reach their prison camp in Capas alive.
The camp was turned over by the Clark Air Base Military Reservation to the Philippine Government on April 9, 1982.
Former President Corazon Aquino proclaimed it as Capas National Shrine on December 7, 1991.
The shrine encompasses 54 hectares of parkland where the Bataan Death March ended.
35 hectares of land have been planted with rows of trees to represent each of the deceased at the camp and to promote environmental consciousness.
On April 9, 2003, a new memorial wall and obelisk was unveiled.
The 70-meter obelisk towers above the grounds of the former internment camp.
It is surrounded by a black marble wall engraved with the names of the Filipinos and Americans known to have died at the location.
On the three large wall segments that almost encircle the obelisk, there are statistics about the total numbers of prisoners and deaths together with poems for peace.
Paggunita sa Capas serves as one of the highlights of the annual commemoration of Philippine Veterans Week.
This year’s observance is guided by the theme “Balik-tanaw sa Sakripisyo ng Beterano, Gabay sa Landas ng Pagbabago.” (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)
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