Freedom run for Bataan Death March set
SEVENTY-FOUR years ago, thousands of Filipino and American prisoners of war died after being forced by Japanese troops to trek 65 miles (104.607 kilometers) back to prison camps after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor.
This was the Bataan Death March.
To honor the survivors and those who died, the Philippine Veterans Bank will hold the Bataan Freedom Run on April 9, the anniversary of the Bataan Death March.
“We are remembering the hundred plus thousands Filipinos and Americans who defended our country,” said Mike Villa-Real, head of the Veterans Bank’s Corporate and Consumer Relations Division in a press briefing on Thursday.
He said that in New Mexico, USA a memorial run is being held for more than a decade now in honor of the Bataan and Corregidor heroes of the Death March.
“When I found [out about it] I felt ashamed for the Philippines. If the Americans are commemorating the Bataan March, which has become a big event in the US each year, people even fly from Europe, especially descendants, and I told myself ‘Why does the America remember what happened and we don’t,” he said, explaining why the fun run was organized.
A fun run covering a distance of 68.9 kilometers will have the same route of the Bataan Death March. It will start at Kilometer Zero in Mariveles, Bataan at 11 p.m. on April 9,” said Ian Alacar of Without Limits, Inc. It will pass through Limay, Orion, Mt. Samat and will end in Balanga.
“It’s the majority of the original route where death marchers passed except Mt. Samat. We placed that to commemorate their heroism. As an athlete it’s also a challenge because of 7 kilometer uphill,” he said.
A color fun run will also be held for running enthusiasts. A 10k, 5k and 1k run for kids and 500 meters for pets will be held on April 10 starting at 5:30 a.m.
Hydration and medical stations are also set up every 10 kilometers for the ultra-marathoners, Alacar said.
“It’s one of those few race events that caters to a wide spectrum of runners, from the serious ultra-marathoners, to the enthusiasts and even to the kids and the families’ pets. Our aim is to bring the whole family together in a meaningful event that remembers and honors our Filipino and American Heroes who fought for freedom during the Battle for Bataan,” Villa-Real said.
Proceeds from the run will be used for the restoration of World War II Historical Markers in the province.
Jacque Ruby, country head for History Channel, said that they are also airing a commercial to attract international participants.
“It’s for Asians to realize that the Filipinos are heroes and we left a mark in this world,” he said.
Up to 2,500 participants are expected to join the Bataan Freedom Run.
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