Corregidor Island: Araw ng Kagitingan

Every April 9, the Philippines commemorates Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as the Bataan and Corregidor Day. The last two strongholds of the United States Armed Forces, Far East (USAFFE), which include the Philippine Army and the US Regular forces, were Bataan and Corregidor.

[See also map and directions]

After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese air attack crippled the US air force and navy stationed in the Philippines. By January 1941, the Japanese had occupied Manila and in March, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commanding General of the USAFFE, left for Australia. The remaining forces in Bataan (see Dambana ng Kagitingan at Mt. Samat, Bataan) surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942. If you’ve noticed, that’s the date of the Araw ng Kagitingan.

But Corregidor kept on fighting for one more month. If you’re the enemy and this piece of rock stands in the way of totally conquering a country, what would you do? Bomb the place to hell. And that’s exactly what the Japanese did. Corregidor is the second most bombed island during World War II, next to Malta. On May 6, 1942, Corregidor surrendered.

The Pacific War Memorial stands at the Topside of Corregidor Island (read more of Corregidor here). It’s a reminder of the bravery and heroism of the combined US and Philippine forces against Japanese aggression. It’s also a reminder of the suffering and horrors that war brings, something which the world still sees up to this day.

At the end of the Pacific War Memorial is the Eternal Flame of Freedom, a steel sculpture erected on the cliff overlooking the tail of the island. The monument has this inscription at the bottom: “To live in Freedom Light is the Right of Mankind.”

After this generation, what happened in Corregidor, and the Philippines in general, during the war with Japan would be reduced to something read in elementary textbooks. Today’s generation could cling to that memory through the heart-wrenching stories of grandparents who fought — many of whom died — during the dark days of Japanese occupation. Our generation must not forget the sacrifice waged and blood spilled in Corregidor and elsewhere in the Philippines. So, while the big guns in Corregidor might look impressive during your visit to this historic place, remember that the bravery of those who fought the invaders is even more impressive. Let’s not forget what they fought, and died, for.

13 thoughts on “Corregidor Island: Araw ng Kagitingan”

  1. Hola, Fred, buenos dias desde Espana!
    That photograph of two soldiers you featured proves we have great sculptors.
    But, who was the sculptor? let’s name them because I have seen so many beautifully-made sculpture and to this day, I am ashamed to say I couldn’t remember even three well-known homegrown Filipino sculptors in our country. Perhaps, the time has come to inform us, Fred, each time you show monuments like this one. Do you know who the sculptor is in that Leyte Landing? What a monumental thing to behold! I still remember posing next to the General in 1975, but I wonder if they’ve made changes, especially its colour? I’ll try to visit Corregidor next time I visit…something I always failed to do in the past.

  2. Hill, great idea…will implement that every time we feature a sculpture in this site (and look up the sculptors of the works already featured). You should go to Corregidor the next time you’re here. Everybody should.

  3. Hola, Fred, buenos dias, desde Espana!
    I’m so glad you’re open to ideas. There are many inspiring things to be had in our country, countless talented people and there are times when Filipinos need to beat their chest and say, ” We are creative, we are talented, we have geniuses, we have great inventions…”Unfortunately, because we are a shy people, we do not do it with the same farvour and enthusiasm as the “White Knights” from the West or other countries. Still, with internet technology, the power to do it is right on our fingertips.
    Fred, I wept quietly when I read a list of our Filipino Inventors. In fact, I’ve been weeping for two days knowing that our kapwa-Pinoy have done a lot to help, save, invent things for the world’s people.
    I just found out that a Filipino invented the videophone! Even the karaoke was first conceived of and invented by a Filipino. There is a long list of Inventors from our country and ordinary Pinoys do not have an iota of idea that yes, Filipino inventors reign.
    May I then suggest, Fred, that at the bottom of your article, you can include a strip of information regarding our inventors, like the phrase, “Did you know that…”all under “Inventors”. I haven’t stopped weeping after reading the list of our Inventors, Fred. I guess it will take some time to sink in that the great videophone was invented by a kapwa-Pinoy.
    Mabuhay, Mabuhay, Mabuhay!!! Indeed, Fred, let’s rejoice!

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