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160-KM Freedom Trail kicks off annual tribute for Bataan Death March heroes

The Freedom Trail Guidon is installed at Kilometer Zero in Mariveles, Bataan with (L-R). PVB VP Tom Cloa, Mariveles Mayor AJ Concepcion, AFP Reserve Commander BGen Rolando Rodil , PVAO BGen (Ret) Resty Aguilar, and Dr. Lance Cummings of Epic Charity Challenge (USA)

Former US Navy SEALs together with hundreds of our country’s armed forces, police and civilian volunteers, paid tribute to our World War II heroes in a 160 kilometers ‘Freedom Trail’ from KM Zero in Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.

Freedom Trail is an annual event organized by the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB), in partnership with the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), and the Provincial Government of Bataan.

At Km.44 in Victoria Plaza, Balanga City Bataan, Freedom Trail participants meet Death March survivor Paulino Dominguez, 99 and Gavina Clemente-Manual – a Hukbalahap guerrilla

The event honors the sacrifice and bravery of Filipino and American World War II heroes and survivors. Participants trail the 160 kilometer route that spans three provinces for 42 hours.

Veterans Bank’s Freedom Trail traces the actual route of the Bataan Death March from KM Zero Mariveles in Bataan, to San Fernando Pampanga, up to Capas in Tarlac. The Freedom Trail kicks off the 77th year commemoration of the Bataan Death March.

“Freedom Trail is our way of remembering our World War II veterans’ bravery and heroism during the war, particularly the Battle for Bataan.  They were abandoned and yet against all odds held on and defended the country for 3 months, unlike our Southeast Asian neighbors. That’s why their captors let them go through what is now known as the “Bataan Death March.” Let the Freedom Trail be a tribute to these brave heroes.” said Mike Villa-Real, Head of Veterans Bank’s Marketing Communications Division.

The Death March, considered as one of the darkest days in Philippine History, is the forcible transfer of 60,000–80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war (POW) from Saysain Point, Bagac, Bataan and Mariveles to Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac. The prisoners were loaded onto box cars in San Fernando, Pampanga. The transfer began on April 9, 1942 and left thousands dead and seriously wounded after enduring torture under the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

The Death March route stretches from Mariveles in Bataan to Capas, Tarlac via San Fernando, Pampanga. The total distance covered was from 96 to 112 kms.

At the end of the 160 km trek, the same Freedom Trail Guidon is received by DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, PVB Chairman Roberto F. de Ocampo, PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina and PVAO Chief of Veterans Memorial and Historical Division

This year’s commemoration activities also includes “Ride for Valor,” a competitive bike tour to be held on March 10 from Kilometer Zero in Bataan to Capas, Tarlac; and the Bataan Freedom Run that will be held on April 14, 2019. Bike and running enthusiasts are invited to register for the events.

Proceeds from the activities will be used for the restoration and maintenance of historical markers along the route of the Bataan Death March.

To register and find out more, visit the Facebook pages of the Bataan Freedom Run and the Veterans Bank Freedom Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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