Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Kilometer Zero

Drive by too fast and you might miss the marker of Kilometer Zero in Mariveles, Bataan. Situated in front of the sea, beside a fastfood chain, a bayonet stuck in the ground with a soldier's helmet on top of it symbolizes one of the two places where the Death March began (the other one is Bagac). Flags of the Philippines and the United States of America also flank a memorial marker.

April 9 is Bataan Day or Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) or Ang Pagsuko ng Bataan. It was on that date in 1942 that the Americans and Filipinos surrendered to the Japanese Army. One of my favorite stories growing up was the one my Lolo Inggo told me about the Death March. He and his companions were taken prisoner and forced to join the Death March. They were able to slip off at one point and took shelter in a ditch. My lolo lay on the ground, playing dead and waiting for a chance to escape to freedom.  After hours, he finally stirred and poked at the man beside him asking him to "Dusog, dusog!" (Kapampangan for move, move). There was no movement and my lolo found out that the man beside him as well as the others with him were all dead. 

My lolo is now gone and along with him a million or more stories about his life then and our history now. If you have  family members who lived during those times, listen to their stories and record them so that the memories remain alive.

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