Today April 9th, Filipino-Americans will mark the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March in simple wreathe-laying ceremonies to be held at the Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Consul General New York Maria Theresa de Vega, Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn and other local community leaders will be in attendance, along with our officers from others from Member Associations, veterans and friends.
ConGen De Vega will be awarding Certificates to the veterans together with Mayor Josh Keenan of Stratford, NJ, at a reception following the event at the Philippine Community Center.
There will be a handover of the Philippine Flag, which was left behind by VFW Post Commander Anacleto Luartes, represented by his daughter Mary Lou Stenfanko to Jonathan Magpantay, PCSNJ President. The PCSNJ will have it displayed at their library at the Philippine Community Center in Stratford, New Jersey.
A limited print edition was printed to memorialize the contributions made by Cmdr. Anacleto Luartes to our Filipino-American community and will be presented to his daughter Mary Lou Stenfanko.
The Bataan Memorial was the brainchild of Past President Dr. Francis Talangabayan during his presidency. We are deeply indebted to his unselfish love and support of our Council and the promotion of our rich cultural heritage. His youngest daughter, April is an acclaimed flutist and also active in our local community sharing her God-given talents and in the medical missions field.
In the Philippines , Bataan Day is also a non-working day as the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) provides in the “Handbook on Workers’ Statutory Monetary Benefits” stipulates that employees “are entitled to at least 100% of his/her minimum pay” even if he/she did not report for work on this day. The labor department emphasized that employees “must be present or is on leave of absence with pay on the work day” immediately preceding the holiday (April 8, in this case). On that day back in 1942, Filipino and American fighters in Bataan under the leadership of Major General Edward P. King of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) surrendered to the Japanese invaders after realizing the “futility of further resistance.” Allied forces had been fighting the Japanese for four months already prior to the Fall of Bataan, and thousands of them had already died by that time.
It is noteworthy to mention that the Bataan Monument was restored to its former glory and its surroundings upgraded during the last term of President Hermie S. Aczon in 2013 who worked hard to raise funds towards the undertaking. This was also followed by another rehab during the term of President Ruth Luyun.
“Bataan Day”, referred to as “Araw ng Kagitingan,” is a regular national holiday in the Philippines with President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 655 which he signed in 2013. After the U.S. national anthem and the Philippines’ national anthem were sung, a taps rendition was played by Mr. Murphy who graciously lent his talent for the occasion. This was followed by laying of the wreathes at the monument. After the ceremony, a light reception followed at the Philippine Community Center in Stratford, NJ.
We would also like to thank all who supported the campaign for the restoration of the memorial. Thank you also for the commitment you made to maintain and preserve this memorial that honor our heroes in World War 2. NOTE: There is in fact a law which designates April 9 as a legal holiday. It is Republic Act 3022, signed by then-President Carlos P. Garcia back in 1961. Check it on this link. Read more about Proclamation 655 here. Read the above mentioned DOLE handbook in this link.