Credit to Author: YUGEL LOSORATA| Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2019 16:24:34 +0000
The valor of 385,000 Filipino World War 2 veterans is certainly not forgotten in the hearts of succeeding generations nearly 80 years since the infamous Bataan Death March. But funds are needed to keep their memories alive.
Thus, proceeds from the staging of this year’s Bataan Freedom Run and Freedom Trail to mark the 77th anniversary of the Bataan Death March will be used for the restoration of key points located along its route. Funds generated from last year’s edition amounted to P400,000 to help construct Hospital 1 in Mariveles, Bataan.
“These events are our way of remembering and honoring the bravery and sacrifices of our World War 2 veterans,” said Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) Chairman Dr. Roberto de Ocampo, a son of a veteran himself.
The two-day Freedom Trail is set on March 2 and 3, covering the 140-kilometer route that took off from Mariveles all the way to Capas National Shrine in Tarlac. The marchers will be asked to relay the flag known as the Freedom March Symbolic Guidon.
There is also the Ride For Valor to be held a week after (March 10), with participants engaging in Big Bike competitive tour of the same route.
Come April 14, the Bataan Freedom Run will see runners kick off their morning journey from Bataan to Mt. Samat at least for the daring 42-kilometer full marathoner. There are 21 km, 10 km, 5 km, and even a 1 km runs to accommodate all types of runners — from the pro to the kids and the pets.
Veterans Bank First Vice President Mike Villa-Real, a veteran’s grandson, noted with a little smile, “Our mandate is to generate profit and share 20 percent of it to the veterans and their families. Magagalit sila sa amin kapag di kami naka-generate.”
There are only less than 5,000 veterans still alive, almost everyone of them no longer able to attend public gatherings because of health and physical reasons. The pressure Villa-Real talks about is more of a metaphor for loud history knocking on the hearts of younger generations enjoying a free and patriotic republic, significantly made possible by the heroism displayed by those brave men during those dark years.
Philippine Veterans Bank, a government depository bank, is owned by the vets in their individual capacities. It has around P50 billion in total assets with a clientele of local government units whose payroll and development loans are worked out under its wing.
Villa-Real poignantly shared, “There is a Bataan Memorial Death March event that happened last year in New Mexico in the US, with around 8,000 people from around the world coming. There is a contingent in there that went to Bataan.”
If people in the US do that, all the more it makes sense that the bank and its partners make an effort to involve people who remember their Pinoy counterparts, especially the youth of today, to run, march, or do team relays in the name of Filipino veterans. Besides, 60,000 of the 70,000 Death Marchers were Filipinos
To register, visit FB pages FB.com/veteransbanktrail and fb.com/BFRRUN).