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March relives Filipino WWII valor

Relive the uncommon valor of the Filipino freedom fighters during World War II as the country observes the 75th anniversary of the infamous Death March on Apr. 11.

Dubbed Capas Freedom March, the event retraces the last miles of the fateful day where more than 76,000 Filipino and American troops where forced by the Japanese Imperial Army to walk from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga.

From there, they were hauled into train coaches to Camp O’Donell in Capas, Tarlac. Only 54,000 reached the camp, as some 10,000 people died along the road in the 106-kilometer ordeal. Thousands more died until 1945 due to famine, diseases and poor sanitation.

Feting freedom fighters

Themed “March For A Veteran,” the event is now on its third year and is co-organized by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) and the Department of National Defense – Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, and co-presented by the Department of Tourism and the Tourisms Promotion Board in partnership with the Province of Tarlac and the Municipality of Capas.

Former president Fidel Ramos will again be the keynote speaker and will lead the 10-kilometer march set on Apr. 11 from the People’s Park to the Capas National Shrine at 4 a.m.

Joining him as guests of honor are PVAO administrator Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ernesto Carolina, Tarlac governor Susan Yap-Sulit, and Capas mayor Reynaldo Catacutan.

According to AAP Travel president Mina Gabor, war veterans, their families and friends, socio-civic groups, government employees, military personnel, AAP members and volunteers will join the march to immortalize the sacrifice of the freedom fighters.

She said that this year’s edition is unique as it integrates CFM with two other PVAO-sanctioned events—the Bataan Freedom Run and the Padyak para sa Kagitingan.

Now collectively known as the Mariveles San Fernando Capas Freedom Trail, it is the biggest Death March commemorative activity that seeks to promote freedom, world peace and international goodwill.

The former tourism secretary added that the March is the country’s national auto club’s way of promoting domestic tourism through motoring by visiting historic spots to help Filipinos learn from the lessons of the past.

Activities include Recognition ceremony for veterans, World War II memorial gallery, exhibits of military vehicles, and awarding for biggest delegations per category.

Registration fee is PhP200 for schools and local government units, PhP250 for individuals and PhP300 for corporate participants. Proceeds will go to the restoration of the Capas Train Station.

For more information, call (02) 705-3333, (0928) 507-4288 or email capasfreedommarch@gmail.com.

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