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Historical Background

Wars Fought by Philippine Heroes

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address - Saturday, March 4, 1865)

Source: The Defenders 40th (Ruby) Anniversaries

The purpose of commemorating the Bataan and Corregidor days is to Honor the Memory of those who had to give up their lives in the blood battlegrounds of Bataan, Corregidor and other USAFFE fronts in 1941-42 - so that others may live in Freedom.

It is possible that our soldiers,or our people, have made equal or even greater sacrifices and military or related successes in other battlegrounds in the Philippines - and even abroad - but it is Bataan and Corregidor which have earned more recognition, are internationally immortalized, and gained for our beloved country greater glory and world - wide respect as bastion of democracy and freedom.

  • It is Bataan and Corregidor which are credited with having upset the 1941-42 timetable of conquest by the Japanese about four months, allowing the Allied Forces that much badly-needed "breathing spell" to build up logistics and organize the military forces which, eventually, turned the tide of battle to preserve or restore liberty and freedom in our Land, and in Southeast Asia.

The Japanese high Command, well aware of the miserable state of unpreparedness of the military forces in the Philippines in 1941, overconfidently alloted only 55 days for its conquest. the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, comprising mostly of "raw recruits," half-sick, ill-clad, ill-fed and with obsolescent, if not obsolete, arms and munitions, and at the mercy of enemy planes - almost did the unbelievable: they successfully fought the Nippon "war machine" to a standstill, necessitating heavy enemy reinforcements which had to be pulled out from forces intended for other places of conquest.

The USAFFEE had divisions and other commands stationed on or in other battle grounds in the Philippines BUT -

  • About 80% of the Filipinos and 90% of the American Forces, and possibly the same percentage of the 1941-42 invading Japanese forces, were involved in Bataan and Corregidor.

  • From the outbreak of WW II to surrender dates of the USAFFE, Bataan and Corregidor accounted for at least:

    • 80% of the number and duration of actual major battles, encounters and other armed engagements;
    • 80% of the firearms, ammunitions, shells, bombs, war machines, and other material used by the combatants; and
    • 80% of the numbers killed in action, killed or died in the "death march" and in POW camps in the Philippines.

  • Whenever the initial dark days of WW II in the Philippines are mentioned - here or abroad - deservingly or not, the names Bataan and Corregidor become a major, if not the sole subject of reminiscence, awe, or reverence.

  • It must indeed be that deserving, as a good number of cities in other countries had found it fit to name, or rename, streets and prominent landmarks "Bataan and/or Corregidor." The latest to identify relationas with Bataan and Corregidor was the City of Maywood, in Illinois, USA which, according to an AP dispatch last 39th Bataan Day, claimed to be the "FIRST" to commemorate Bataan Day (on April 1943), while the was was still goin on); the "FIRST" to rename a bridge in that City "Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Bridge" (in 1946); and although a relatively small City, claimed to have contributed nearly all the personnel of Co "B", 192nd Tank Battalion of the USAFFEE.

Hence, when the surviving members of the 1941-42 holocaust gathered together to preserve and strengthen the bond of camaraderie among their thinning number they, with history, posterity, and forbearance of world-wide goodwill of the Philippines in mind - named their organization Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, which was later incorporated into a non-stock, non-profit, non-partisan, Historical and civic organization.

Reprinted By: Ging Mutia

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Sunday, October 05, 2003