On April 9 each year, Filipinos enjoy a non-working holiday in commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as the Day of Valor. Oftentimes, the schedule is adjusted so it falls on a Friday. This results in a long weekend or a three-day vacation for many Filipinos. People get into an excited frenzy as they prepare for out-of-town trips or simply take the time to laze around at home enjoying a movie marathon or their favorite Korean telenovela.
In Bataan, the festivities go beyond just the Day of Valor itself. The local government gets into a frenzy of their own as they prepare for celebrations that run for more than a week.
Araw ng Kagitingan: A Brief History
The Araw ng Kagitingan, after all, commemorates the historical Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942. After months of battling it out against militarily superior enemy forces, the joint US-Filipino army was forced to surrender to the invading Japanese forces. With roughly 60,000 Filipino soldiers and up to 15,000 US troops falling prisoner, the Bataan surrender is by far the largest in both Philippine and American history.
Although our local soldiers succumbed to the enemy forces, the Battle of Bataan was hardly a defeat for the Philippines. The drawn-out defense of the Bataan peninsula halted the progress of the Japanese army, allowing the Filipino and US forces to gear up for subsequent battles and ultimately rise up as victors in the war against the Japanese.
Forced to take part in the Death March from Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga, many of the thousands of prisoners succumbed to starvation, dehydration, exhaustion, and disease and failed to make it out alive. Many also died at the cruel hands of the enemy forces.
The Filipino troops who fought at the Battle of Bataan are true heroes. They are among the reasons why we get to enjoy our out-of-town trips and Korean telenovelas with unbridled freedom. Unfortunately, these heroes are oftentimes also called the ‘Forgotten Soldiers’. For they do not get as much attention as they deserve. For people these days take the horrors of the past for granted as they enjoy the easy luxuries and freedom of the present time.
The Araw ng Kagitingan should serve as a reminder of the tenacity, courage, and sacrifice of the Philippine forces, not just of those from the past but also of those who continue to fight on our behalf.
And so the local government of Bataan is up in arms as they battle it out for the best possible festivities this week. Yes, they are going all out in their preparations and have started to dish out the goodies last week. I, together with a blogger friend and people from the media, had the privilege of witnessing a portion of these festivities, particularly the annual ‘Padyakan sa Bataan’.
13th Annual Padyakan sa Bataan
One of the events that kickstarted the 76th Year of Commemorating the Day of Valor, the 13th Annual ‘Padyakan sa Bataan’ was held on March 25, 2018. Around 553 bikers braved the challenging trails of Mariveles. They came from different parts of the Philippines and were of different ages, with some as young as 2-3 years old!
Padyakan sa Bataan is a mountain bike circuit race organized by The Provincial Government of Bataan, with the primary involvement of the Provincial Tourism Office. The event was also presented in cooperation with the Municipality of Mariveles and the Bataan Trailriders and Adventurers Network (BaTAAN).
The race was held at the Karagatan Bay View Peaks, which offers an incredible view of the Bataan mountain ranges, the West Philippine Sea, and Corregidor.
Bikers raced through a 3km loop that involved single and double tracks, as well as climbs and descents. The number of laps required depended on the category and the bikers’ level of expertise. Participants got to choose from the following categories:
- Open Category for Men
- Open Category for Women
- Age Category (Veteran A – 60 and up)
- Age Category (Veteran B – 50 to 59)
- Age Category (Senior – 40 to 49)
- Age Category (Master – 30 to 39)
- Age Category (Novice – 22 to 29)
- Age Category (Junior – 21 and below)
- Fun Category (Men’s Solo)
- Fun Category (Women’s Solo)
- Heavy Weight
- Fat Bike
- Single Speed
- Kids Category (7 to 8)
- Kids Category (9 to 10)
- Kids Category (11 to 12)
- Kids Special Category
- All Bataan (Novice)
- All Bataan (Masters)
- Super D (Men)
- Super D (Women)
Beyond just honoring the heroes of Bataan, Padyakan sa Bataan aims to promote the province’s sports tourism and ecotourism. They aim to showcase the splendid beauty of the province’s mountains and seas, as well as the hospitality and good nature of the Bataeños (man oh man, did I meet some of the nicest people on this planet). And Bataan does not disappoint. Even the avid bikers have come to consider Mariveles’ mountain bike trail as ‘every biker’s dream’. Those who have participated in races abroad consider the local race course to be on par with those they’ve encountered in other countries.
Joining Padyakan sa Bataan?
If you are interested in joining next year’s festivities and would like to get more information on the categories and rules of the games, feel free to contact and follow the event organizers at the Padyakan sa Bataan’s official Facebook page. Registration is FREE!
Other events to make up the weeklong festivities are the Parade of Floats, Military Band Exhibition, Bataan Freedom Run, Koro Bangkal Magbikin Concert, National Commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan, Galing Bataan Trade Fair, among others. You may visit Bataan Tourism’s Facebook page for more details.
Together with the valiant and gracious people of Bataan, let us honor the heroes of the past. And let’s keep them in mind as we all enjoy our long weekend … and the out of town trips and Koreanovela binges that go with it.
Happy Day of Valor, everyone! 🙂
Tahna de Veyra