fall-of-bataan

This evening, sixty-nine years ago

Good evening everyone everywhere. This is the Voice of Freedom broadcasting from somewhere in the Philippines.

Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.

The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.

For what sustained them through all these months of incessant battle was a force that was more than merely physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith–something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy! It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives.

The adversary, in the pride of his power and triumph, will credit our troops with nothing less than the courage and fortitude that his own troops have shown in battle. Our men have fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the most superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last in the face of overwhelming odds. But the decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more than flesh, but they are not made of impervious steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come. Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand–a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world–cannot fall!

-Norman Reyes, broadcasting from Corregidor, Philippine Islands, over the Voice of Freedom, April 6, 1942.

the image came from a blog which relates a story of how a zippo brand lighter survived the bataan death march, an american veteran survivor story, of course:

[…] “Once I saw one of them, a Filipino, eating the meat of a python. I never ate python and I never ate monkey after the first time. Lizard you can keep down but monkey-meat is like eating something that came jumping and swinging out of hell itself and I was willing to go just so far with the max stress routine. The other thing was malaria, which everybody had. But it really wasn’t too bad under the circumstances as we were able to getsome sugar cane from the fields which alleviated the symptoms to some extent and what streams there were to drink from probably made us susceptible to dysentery but most of us were suffering from it in the first place and we had to have water.

We had a colonel with us and he had a pass that some Gink officer had given him when we surrendered. He showed this pass to anybody we ran into on the road and they didn’t give us too much trouble. They searched us and took rings and watches and anything else they could find, but I managed to hold on to my Zippo lighter, which twenty years later was part of an ad campaign I saw that they were running: THIS ZIPPO SURVIVED THE BATAAN DEATH MARCH. I managed to keep it hidden in the toe of my boot and held on to it for the rest of the war. (I have it to this day). We got to Balanga that night. We had covered the distance in one day with hardly any strain.

When we arrived we heard the enemy had executed about four hundred indigenous military personnel, officers and noncoms. The Filipinos were on their way to Balanga like the rest of us when they were stopped by some Japs who were part of an aftermath reaction force. They let everybody go except the officers and noncoms, who were lined up in several columns and then tied together at the wrists with telephone wire. Then they took out their swords and bayonets and killed them. […]

Today we remember the surrender of the 70,000 Filipino and American soldiers (87% were Filipinos) against the hegemon that was the Empire of Japan. From December 1941 to April 1942, the Philippine forces valiantly held out in Bataan amidst impossible odds against the attacks of the overwhelming Japanese forces and with their backs on the sea. Famine, illnesses, fatigue, and a lot of casualties took toll on the troops. Bataan peninsula witnessed the heroism of individuals from all over the archipelago, laying down their lives for freedom. My very own grandfather was a member of the 14th Engineers Regiment of the prestigious Philippine Scouts tasked to build bridges, trenches and prepare defense lines for efficient retreat and offense. He died on April 6, a mere three days before the surrender of Bataan, showing the great casualties suffered by the troops on the days leading to April 9th, 1942. From the Malinta Tunnel at Corregidor would be heard the sad announcement on that fateful day through the radio program “Voice of Freedom”:

Bataan has fallen. The Philippine-American troops on this war-ravaged and bloodstained peninsula have laid down their arms. With heads bloody but unbowed, they have yielded to the superior force and numbers of the enemy.

The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastness and along the rugged coast of Bataan. They have stood up uncomplaining under the constant and grueling fire of the enemy for more than three months. Besieged on land and blockaded by sea, cut off from all sources of help in the Philippines and in America, the intrepid fighters have done all that human endurance could bear.

For what sustained them through all these months of incessant battle was a force that was more than merely physical. It was the force of an unconquerable faith—something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy! It was the thought of native land and all that it holds most dear, the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives.

The adversary, in the pride of his power and triumph, will credit our troops with nothing less than the courage and fortitude that his own troops have shown in battle. Our men have fought a brave and bitterly contested struggle. All the world will testify to the most superhuman endurance with which they stood up until the last in the face of overwhelming odds.

But the decision had to come. Men fighting under the banner of unshakable faith are made of something more than flesh, but they are not made of impervious steel. The flesh must yield at last, endurance melts away, and the end of the battle must come.

Bataan has fallen, but the spirit that made it stand—a beacon to all the liberty-loving peoples of the world—cannot fall!

If not for their sacrifice, the Japanese invasion plan would have been fully implemented as scheduled and it would have been difficult to stop the Japanese from conquering Australia, thus compromising the Allied offensive which was done in 1945.

Thank God for our heroes. And as we remember those who have fallen, we must also remind ourselves that even Death itself is a defeated enemy.

Here are some posts related to this part of Philippine History.

To remember those who have fallen

In commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor

Olympics and the Philippines: The Filipino Pioneers

Visiting the Pacific War Memorial

Coconut Fiber helmet of the Philippine Constabulary

this one, is a trivia :)

[….] To commemorate the event, the Japanese-administered postal system in Manila issued a stamp. To Japanese, it was known as the Victory stamp. To Filipino philatelists, the event was not considered a victory as many had friends and relatives who fought at Bataan who were led off in the infamous Death March. The issue was simply known to them as the “Bataan Stamp”.

The stamp was issued on 18 May and was rumored to have been minted much earlier but could not be released as resistance at Bataan and Corregidor continued.

The 4-centavo Woman and Carabao pictorial from 1935 was surcharged with “2c” and an additional inscription was overprinted: “Congratulations-Fall of Bataan and Corregidor-1942”. In common with many issues of the Japanese occupation, any text pertaing to the Commonwealth or the United States was blacked out with a deleting bar.

[….] Due to imperfections in the overprinting process, a variation from the basic stamp resulted.

Minor flaws in the plates resulted in a broken “B” in the word “Bataan”. What was meant to appear as ‘Bataan’ appeared as 'Rataan". 

The error is constant and appears twice in every sheet, in positions 1 and 25. All stamps in position 1 have top and left edges imperforate and is known by its local philatelic nickname ,'Bataan Senior’. Those from position 25 have all edges perforated and are known as 'Bataan Junior’.

From the images above, the topmost in each set is of the basic stamp, followed by 'Bataan Junior’. 'Bataan Senior’ appears last in each set.

Around 2000 of each are known to have been made. Scott catalog value for the basic stamp ( Philippines # N8 ) is $6.00. Errors are unlisted.

A great day to all.