Philippines have suffered greatly during the World War II. The war started on December 8, 1941 between the Japanese Imperial Forces and the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) in the Philippines. On January 1, 1942, a “Last Ditch Stand” against the invasion of the Japanese was done by the major units of USAFFE who retreated to Bataan and Corregidor.
In the meantime, the Fall of Bataan became unavoidable due to continuous Japanese onslaughts. Twenty-seven days has passed, and then the citadel of Corregidor fell on May 6, 1942.
During the three years of Japanese occupation here in the Philippines, Filipino-American forces secretly congregate strength. The combined force they have gathered culminated in the American landings at Leyte on October 20, 1944 and their successive return to Luzon on January 9, 1945.
In spite of the fact that most of the Philippine territories were already liberated, many battles had yet to be fought in view of the tough resistance to the enemy. The Battle at the Bessang Pass is one of the inevitable fights against General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s Shobu Army Group in Northern Luzon. And by June 14, 1945, Bessang Pass was finally recovered by the Filipino forces, the United Sates Forces in the Philippines – North Luzon (USFIP-NL).
The three epics in the fight for freedom and justice were commemorated in the memories of the Filipino people, instantly after the defeat of the enemy in Northern Luzon on Sept. 2, 1945. Most people who participated in the heroic battle began commemorating the bravery of those who participated in the last stand of Bataan, Corregidor and the Victory at Bessang Pass.
The Fall of Bataan was commemorated on April 9, 1946 in a simple yet meaningful rites, it was followed shortly on May 6, 1946, the Fall of Corregidor. And finally, the commemoration of Bessang Pass Day on June 14, 1946 was done by the putting up of a marker on the spot where victory was achieved.
Then after thirty years, the commemoration of these three epic fights was decided to be celebrated at Bataan, Corregidor and Bessang Pass into on memorable day. Moreover, a Letter of Instruction No. 1087 dated November 26, 1980, displacing April 9 and every year after, set as “Araw ng Kagitingan”, honoring those who sacrificed for the defense of democracy and freedom. And finally, an Executive Order No. 203 dated June 30, 1987, proclaimed April 9 of every year as “Araw ng Kagitingan” officially.
And in 1989, President Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation No. 466 stating the period from April 5 to 11 of every year as Philippine Veterans Week. The aim of the said proclamation is to promote and preserve the principles, ideal, and deeds of the brave Filipino war veterans and serves as a means to boost patriotism and love of country as well, most especially to the youth.