Category Archives: Bataan Death March

Good Luck to All Bataan Death March 102KM Ultramarathon Warriors!

Nearly a year had passed when I had the chance to run this prestigious ultramarathon event.  And on Sunday, March 4, another batch of Bataan Death March runners will brave the same path to honor the memory of our WWII brave fallen soldiers. 
To all ultra marathon runners in this race, I wish you all well. 
Be safe and reach the finish line!

Bataan Death March 102 Ultramarathon Race Through the Eyes of a Support Crew

I was not the one who wrote this article.  But Carmen, one of my support volunteers, did.  This blog post is the fruit of a request to let the readers catch a glimpse of how a volunteer support works during an ultramarathon race.  Read on …

Trails and Thrills: My BDM 102 Journey
by Carmen Cabiles
Photos by Carmen Cabiles

Preparation time

As soon as Roselle said that she was doing BDM 102 right away I offered to be her support crew. Much has been said about the race, the same token I have heard a lot of tell-tale stories from former support people. And since this was no ordinary race, doing support for an ultramarathon was volunteer work big time. But it was three months after when this realization started to sink in.

I remember sending her a text message, “if in your heart and mind you have no doubts about this race then go for it”. I had confidence in Roselle that she was doing the needed preparation and we need not worry.  And I had no doubt that she was strong enough to finish the entire 102 km in one piece.

Three weeks prior to race day I insisted that we meet up as a team. Busy as we were with our respective jobs, we had to find time for this. Aside from myself, there was Raff who I have fondly tease “the Hall-of-Famer BDM support crew” and you will find out later why. The first meet up was to think and list down the essentials needed for Roselle and the support crew which includes the driver. This came in easy especially for us girls since it was like second skin to plan and organize.
The group’s second meeting at Seattle’s Best, Bonifacio High Street 
The next weekend again another meeting this time to discuss our game plan. Complete with notes and race route map, we had to plot from 0 KM to KM 102 the stopovers and Roselle’s needs. We were joined by Ziggy (who designed our shirts, a gift from Roselle) and Dhenz a.ka. Running Pinoy, who shared a heapful of suggestions from his own BDM experience. Since Raff was a previous BDM support crew we agreed that he was in charge in taking care of directions and coordinating with the driver; while I was going to oversee the food and drinks of Roselle.

Race weekend

KM 00, Starting point of the infamous Death March

We arrived at San Fernando around 11:00am. First things first, we agreed to check out the entire race route not just for Roselle’s sake, but also to familiarize ourselves with the markers, gas stations, intersections, convenience stores, sari-sari stores and other possible spots and landmarks we would be needing during the race. Again, Raff’s familiarity with the area came in handy to actually give some tips to Roselle like where to turn, which road to take and all that. During the day it was all too easy to take note of all these. But keeping in mind that race starts at 10PM and the landscape might look a bit different.

We finally arrived at the inn around 4:30pm. Worried that Roselle had barely three hours to rest and sleep became a concern. And we still had to organize our things and do last minute cooking for our rice and boil water. We also had to make sure our driver can still have some power nap since we need him to stay alert for the whole race period.

Roselle and I shared the room and we both couldn’t sleep. After resting for an hour we started getting ready. She was in good spirits except for the occasional “Carmsmatapos ko kaya ang race?” (Carms, can I finish the race?) Roselle refrained from replying to her text messages so that she could start focusing on the race. She did not want to carry her cellphone while running but I had to be firm and insisted she should. The moment I said that I felt I was now wearing my support crew hat. We were not there to baby her, but to look after her.  

On our way out for dinner en route to the starting line, it started to rain and felt chilly. Good thing it didn’t last for long by the time we reached KM 0 it was merely drizzling.  We escorted Roselle to where all the runners gathered and as expected, a lot of them wanting to do photo ops and pose at the starting line with Race Director Sir Jovie a.k.a Baldrunner. After taking a couple of shots of Roselle we hurriedly left for KM 7. As a race policy our first meet up with our runner was at that point. There was a handful of support vehicles already parked when we got there.

KM 0 – KM 50

Raff and Arnel (our vehicle driver) handing out Pocari drink

The support crews around us were just as energized as the runners themselves. Cheering broke the silence of the cold night when the first runner arrived. The thrill of waiting for your runner pass by was equally exciting as we watched the others breeze through. One after the other the parked vehicles started to move again after meeting up with their runners.

It was rather easy to locate the kilometer markers because of the swarm of cars and vans parked on the side. As each vehicle opened its trunk you can tell we all had the same stuff: gallons of water, ice chests, bananas, Gatorade, rubber shoes and towels.

The cool wind of Bataan blew through the night almost lulling us to sleep, but from 10pm till 12midnight we were up on our toes and resisted dozing off. Roselle requested that we meet up every 3km from the planned 5km because of the dark. We realized it was unreliable to watch out for the markers because there were missing ones. There was one time I saw an almost submerged marker I had to get down from the vehicle, stoop and take a picture to figure out which marker number it was. While at it, I started feeling something crawling on my feet ….ants! I jumped and dashed to the van. Raff was not spared and we were both scratching the next 10 minutes. 
Tarp placed at the back of each support vehicle

In between our meet up with her, our entertainment came in the form of watching Karate Kid and Raff’s harvest time for his Smurf’s Village game. One time, we were so engrossed watching the movie we didn’t notice she ran past us!

We choreographed an ala-Broadway-left-right kick while chanting “all the way” as we welcomed her at several points. Aside from keeping our energy up, we were trying to keep her in a good mood, too. At times we had bits and pieces of the story behind Bataan Death March. To say it was an interesting conversation piece is an understatement.

By 2am everything slowed down. We were seeing less and less support vehicles, and our adrenalin was starting to crash. As the lone female, I was challenged to relieve myself since I didn’t have the luxury of options. My first stop was at a “bar”, not the Makati-kind of bar, with a few ladies sending off their male customers out the door. Our driver had to come with me so he could use his charms while seeking permission for my free use.

I needed to go again 2 hours after, this time at a police headquarters near a municipality office. What else can I say but, “when you gotta go, you gotta go” even if it means having to close your eyes and shutting off your sense of smell.
Roselle telling Raff her Nike Lunar Glide is causing her some discomforts
Around this time, she was approaching her KM 42 and no major complaints yet, except for a change in her running shoes plus, “Pagod na ako.” (I’m tired.) All we had to say was, “Selle, done with your first “mary”, isa pa OK ka na!” (Selle, done with your first “mary”, one more time then everything’s OK!) We were planning on buying decent breakfast but we couldn’t find any. No choice but to wait at KM 50 where all runners and support crew meet up once again. While waiting for her, we started making our hot drinks plus the peanut butter with banana sandwich courtesy of Raff; our “little kitchen” got busy. First thing she wanted to do was change into fresh clothes, but with that, only had little time left to eat breakfast. Raff was constantly calculating her time vs. her pace and we had to cut short her break time if we want to meet the cut-off time. 
The little kitchen at the back of the car

KM 51 –KM 80

This started between 7am-8am. The weather was the opposite of the day before. It was bright and sunny which translates to h-o-t, which is not so good. We were hoping to have some drizzle and rain showers but the sky was too clear and far from cloudy.

Roselle on her way to the Municipality of Samal,Bataan 
We had to prepare our stock of ice and fill up our chest to prepare for the long, humid day ahead of us. Out came the hand towels and spray bottle as we soaked them in a separate pail. From KM 50 – KM 65 we were meeting her every 5 KM. But after that, she requested to meet up every 2.5 KM. The heat was starting to feel unbearable.

When we reached KM 70 (around 10 AM) our meet ups became more frequent at every 1 – 1.5KM.  It was obvious the heat was draining her. Raff placed a rolled-up bandanna with ice cubes in it around Roselle’s nape; while I sprayed ice-cold water non-stop on her face and legs. She has been complaining of her sunburned legs plus some discomfort on her thighs she kept requesting for liniment. She was no longer running or jogging. She walked slowly the next 10-15 KMs. 
Busy as a bee every time our runner stops

We did not wait anymore for her to approach the van. As soon as we saw her, Raff and I took turns in running towards her, either with the cold drink or spray bottle. It was also necessary that many times both of us had to run to her aid. It was becoming more and more tedious to feed her, she was resisting even her GU. At this point, we had several food trays with different variations of food  which we kept switching. It was only Jelly Ace she feasted on and never turned it down. Sometimes she would not even want to sip her drink. 

KM 80 – KM 90

No matter how much we pushed her, it was evident she was wrestling from within. Her weakened voice, with the same question over and over, “Kaya ko pa ba? Abot ba ako sa cut-off?” was getting into us. (Do you think I can still make it to the cut-off time?)

How else to cheer her on? Raff asked me for new lines to say but I replied, “What else do you say when she keeps asking the same thing?

This is the area where support vehicles had to take a detour and leave their runner for about 7 KMs. It was almost 12 high noon, air was dry and dusty everywhere. We felt helpless not being able to be with Roselle. As Raff made another time computation, we almost surrendered to the idea she might not meet the cut-off time and instead he said, “Let’s pray…”  At that moment, all I could think of was for her to finish the race in one piece with no serious injury.  The three of us were quiet, Raff and our driver took a quick nap, while I stared into the distance. Feeling poignant as I recalled again Bataan Death March, and under these circumstances gave me an idea of what the soldiers struggled with… 
Waiting ...
After waiting for almost an hour, we finally spotted Roselle. Without telling her of our time computation, we went about the usual routine while still cheering her on. We were faking our emotions like seasoned performers! Raff couldn’t have said it any better when he told her to “just walk faster and don’t stop”.

KM 90 – Finish line

Roselle slowly started to pick up her pace. It was a combined walk-jog-walk this time. We had this target runner and she kept an eye on this one.  Funny that she would still remind us to take our lunch and finish off the food we had. Without her knowing that we had skipped our meal, we simply said, “Yes” whenever she would check on us.

With the sun beating down on us, Raff and I were spending more time now on the road than inside the van. We played it by ear and disregarded any KM reading. Cold drink plus cold towel compress on her legs was what we gave her with forced small bites of banana or choco bar. She kept asking, “Malayo pa?” (Is it still far?) and our usual reply was, “Sus, konti na lang.” We made it sound as if she had just a few hundred meters to go! She had her second wind, and we just have to give that final push. At the rate she was going, we knew she was actually going to meet the cut-off time as long as she refrained from walking.

Roselle’s drive at this point was to get it over and done with. For us, it was eager anticipation as well. Just as she was drained, we were exhausted. With the remaining 5 KMs, we decided not to get in her way so as not to lose her momentum. She kept flashing her thumbs up sign as we cruised past her. 
Roselle’s walk-jog-walk strategy … almost there

And finally, after more than 17 hours, we made our last turn. Raff and I got down from the van, and walked on the left side of the road as we waited for Roselle from the bend to cross the finish line. The crowd cheered on.  I took a shot of her before crossing the line. She did it! Raff and I were silent. Our mission accomplished we can now start relaxing.

She did it!
(L-R: Carmen, Roselle, Race Director Sir Jovie a.k.a. Baldrunner, Raff, and Dhenz)

Post Race Insights

1.       I now have a deeper appreciation for Bataan Death March and why it is a significant part of our history.  Every Filipino should get to know this story.

2.       Being a support crew is a lot of work! And you take this seriously. Do not volunteer if your intention is to simply have a field trip and take pictures. It is work.

3.       Be ready not to get any sleep, nor have a decent meal. Most of all, you can’t complain.

4.       Stay alert at all times and move fast. You make proper coordination with your runner every meet up; you watch out for the markers or synchronize your vehicle’s odometer; you plan ahead and prepare the food before your runner reaches your vehicle. This goes on non-stop for 18 hours.

5.       It pays to have at least one experienced BDM support crew in the team. Hats off to Raff for good planning, I’ve learned to put balance in preparing an ultramarathoner’s food tray.

6.       As the support crew, we are our runner’s number one fans! *We let them ramble, complain, cry but we stay strong and positive for them. We don’t give in to their negativity.

Raff and I had to put on our happy faces and a cheerful disposition every time we would meet up Roselle.  Despite the fact that we were also running low because of no sleep and limited food intake. It was almost scripted and routine whenever we say, “Madami din naglalakad; keep going steady lang!” in an animated fashion. And the many times Roselle would lament, “Kaya ko ba ito?” we were quick to catch that with, “Sus, madami ka ng nalampasan!” As soon as we retreat to our vans we would calculate and start to worry about the cut-off time. In fact, when we reached the 12th hour (around 10am next day), we hit critical point because she was slowing down due to heat and exhaustion. Raff said a couple of times, “Start to pray.
7.       Volunteer at least once in your running career lifetime for BDM 102. It is not just a race, but a remembrance in honor of our fallen soldiers. It is a glimpse into our dark past. And we dare say never again.
The inscription at the back of KM 102 marker

Bataan Death March 102K Finisher Thanks Everyone

A sneak peek of the third edition of Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race that took place on March 5-6.  It started at 10 o’clock on Saturday night, from the KM 0 in Mariveles, Bataan and ended in San Fernando, Pampanga at 4 o’clock on Sunday afternoon.  

Running Diva on her way to the finish line at KM 102 in San Fernando, Pampanga.  

More STORIES to come about this historic adventure of mine soon!  Stay tuned!

I usually thank persons at the end of my post.  This time, however, I’d do the opposite.  They are, in the first place, the supporting actors who made the running screen alive.   Let’s start the ball rolling!
First and foremost, I would like to thank Carmen C. and Raff S., both are runners and multisport enthusiasts, for volunteering to be my support crew.  Raff’s previous experiences as a support volunteer during the 2nd edition of BDM 102 greatly helped.  Words are not enough to thank you guys but I really appreciated what you did. 
To Sir Jovie Narcise a.k.a. Baldrunner, BDM Race Director, for encouraging me to join the PAU races.  Your advice I heeded to take it easy during the first 7KM of the race and it paid off during the last stretch of the race.  Listen to counsel and accept discipline (from Proverbs) really holds true!

To Ziggy, a runner, strong swimmer, and a triathlete, for volunteering to design and print the BDM T-shirts worn by my support crew during the race.  Thanks, too, for the discount, Zig.  More clients in the future! 
To Dragon BongZ, for donating one case of Gatorade. 
To Masters Neil a.k.a. Crashburn and Rachel a.k.a. Eichbar, for the cooler. 
To Dhenz a.k.a. Runningpinoy, for your inputs on the route, hydration and food requirements, which are considered important for an ultramarathoner to know. 
To Arnel M., our driver, from Filcar Transport Services, who volunteered his time with no hesitation at all. 
To fellow ultramarathon runners, for your presence, support and encouragement, especially, during the last 30KM of the race.  

To Wap and Doc Toto a.k.a. RunDMD for pacing with me and accompanying me, especially, in areas where it was too dark and somewhat dangerous for lady runners.  
To Coaches John Lozada and Rio Dela Cruz for your support and “GO” signal that I could do it.  Thank you Coach John for being patient with me.
To my friends and fellow runners from, thank you so much.  Many, many thanks also to Marga a.k.a. Margalicious for the beautiful bouquet of flowers you gave me as I crossed the finish line.  What a way to finish, eh? (If you know what I mean?)
To Jonel M. a.k.a. BugoBugo85, Frontrunner Magazine editor, ultramarathoner himself, la la la, for bugging me to join BDM 102.  Thanks for believing in me.  Same goes to Luis a.k.a. Ginger Bread Man and to Rodel a.k.a. Argonaut for telling me, “O, ikaw naman next year.  Kaya mo ‘yun!” (It’s your turn next year.  You can do it!) 
To Team Boring members Pojie, Gab, Doc Roy, Aron, Ambow Kulit, among others, thank you so much for inviting me to do that long run with you in the wee hours of the morning at the Mall of Asia grounds.  It was a great help to conquer my fear of running during those ungodly hours. 
To those whom I failed to mention here, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!

To God be the glory for protecting all runners and keeping them from harm.  

Random Thoughts on Bataan Death March 102-kilometer Ultra Marathon

I’m no ultra marathon runner. Not yet. But who knows? I’m no historian either. But I love knowing our history. So, I took a trip in 2001 going to Bataan and visited Dambana ng Kagitingan also known as the Shrine of Valor. It is atop Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan, a shrine to commemorate the gallantry of approximately 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers. In 2005, I visited another shrine, the Capas National Shrine, in Capas, Tarlac, known to be the final destination for those who had actually survived the Death March from Bataan. Many died in Camp O’Donnell, approximately 29,000+. The shrine was built as a memorial to the Filipino and American soldiers who died in Camp O’Donnell at the end of the Bataan Death March. At least, visiting those shrines taught me something about WWII and the death march.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you about ultra marathon. It’s from a friend of mine who finished his first ultra marathon during the recently staged BDM102.

It really fascinated me to know runners who reached, crossed the finish line, and finished a 102-kilometer run. Daunting distance. Amazing feat.

Here is his story …

In memoriam: Brave Daring Men

(Very Deep Memories of a Newbie)
by FR Hortelano, BDM 102 Finisher, Runner, Mountaineer
How can such a simple activity provide such a profound experience? How can ultra running be lesson-filled?
How was I initiated to my kilometric runs? Eight months ago, I started running my first kilometer. Kept on slowly increasing it until it reached 5, 10, 15, 21, 32, 42, 50 then 102. Never at all did I realize how low my self-trust is till I started to run. I didn’t believe in my capacity to finish every run but as I went on and on, I discovered that what I initially thought as impossible, has become possible. These mere dreams slowly become realities. There were 186 of us who registered initially, then 142 after the 50K test run, then 104 finally finished.

Last Saturday, our run started just before midnight in Mariveles [also known as] KM 0 where the infamous death march started. We were running uphill for the first seven kilometers. Afterwards, the moonlight complemented our headlamps to show the path. I took the walk-run strategy (walk uphill and run downhill). After sometime, I found myself running alone in the dark. By 2AM, I met some drank men who just came from some roadside karaoke bars. Some dogs. Some creepy feelings. But I didn’t allow them bother me.

By 4:30 AM, some more people are on the road in Pilar, Bataan. Masses must be starting early on Sundays. I would slow down in every church of different denominations to also remember God so my run is safe and secure. The buses just don’t give way to runners in this country. I even saw vehicular accident along the road.

As I was running slowly, I inquired a fellow runner, “Am I still on time?,” he replied, “Yes, but in ultra marathon, you should not even be thinking.” I pondered on what he said. Later, I realized that self doubt and worries will lead a runner to nowhere. When one is set on the road, the runner must simply enjoy every stride. Focus. Concentration. These two are very important. Anything enters the mind when it thinks that it has not yet gotten sleep. It’s hot… it’s tired… It will only convince the runner just to stop and what the heck.

I continued on my run happily after that remark. I merely focused on running and enjoying every stride. It worked. Once you enjoy what you’re doing, anything hard becomes easy. I was supported by lots of runners and support crew who are all strangers to me. I was “adopted” by many along the route. They provided water, banana, gatorade, and many more. My heart was overwhelmed with the sincere support of each one. There was no feeling of competition. The aim was just to assist each one reach the finish line. I felt a community of mutually supporting runners.

After my 50K in Abucay, Bataan, I took breakfast. Then rested. Changed clothes and thought, I can rest on my laurels. This is it. But after munching my veggie diet, I experienced a sudden wave of energy. Wow! Where did it all come from? My mind suddenly became very alert, as if I had a sound sleep the whole night. Given such a fresh feeling, I started running anew. My goal is just to reach 60KM. Later, I found out, I was already reaching more and more kilometers, from 70 to 80.

When we entered Pampanga province, Lubao town particularly, road construction is ongoing. So with the furious sun, the blinding dusts, the lahar sand that creeps into our socks, the gravels, how can one possibly run? I managed to brisk walk either on the far right or far left side of the road. After sometime, I didn’t feel the heat anymore. It may have helped that I had white pants and long sleeve shirt. But my entire body just miraculously adjusted to the sizzling heat (41 degrees Celsius). I just kept on and on.

Around KM95, with 7 more KMs to go, I was already thinking of my work. I didn’t want to use all my energy. I can’t afford to be absent. My mind wanted to quit. It had the justifications not to continue. I sat down, removed my socks and all the “sandy-intruders”. My mind was battling to continue or not. Then, a fellow runner told me, “come on, you are already there, just a few kilometers more then rest.” I got up slowly and since then, I didn’t entertain any other thought again. I just went on and on and on. Walked anything elevated and run as fast afterwards. Upon reaching the last 4KM, I took it slowly already. I was confident that I am in. I took it as my cool down exercise. Gently ran and walked to the finish line at 17:33 hours. Cut-off is 18:00 hours.

Looking back, how did I manage to finish? What made me do it? Why am I even doing it in the first place? Nothing mind-boggling actually, I just enjoyed what I was doing.

I enjoyed learning. And for as long as I still can learn from my activities, I will continue. The lessons are life-changing even from running, more so in ultra marathons. I admire others who are naturally patient, enduring, persevering and disciplined. I am not. Running provided me the portal to learn what endurance coupled with wisdom is all about. I am innately courageous and it was my capital, with God at my side.

Here are some random thoughts from a newbie runner who merely intended to be a paying bandit in the Bataan Death March 102KM International Ultra Marathon on March 6-7, 2010 from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga. His ultra-mediocre aim could only be elevated by highly spirited, kind, and generous people who joined the BDM 2010 as runners, organizers, support crew, and plain onlookers.

1. Ultra running is about endurance with wisdom

· If one’s personality is addicted to speed and quick results, one is likely to fail in ultra running that mandatorily requires lots of patience and perseverance.

2. Complaining won’t work

· If one begins to curse the dark, it will only respond, “it’s because your headlamp or flashlight is not bright enough.”

· If one begins to scream at the stray dogs, they can only bark louder, “this is our territory, respect us.”

· If one begins to curse the sizzling sun, it will only shout, “my task is to shine, yours is to run.”

· If one begins to complain about the uphills and downhills, both will chorus, “we don’t have a choice, we were created this way.”

· If one complains on uncooperative muscles, they’ll scream, “come on, give us time, we are adjusting slowly, we are alien to this experience.”

· If one may complain about his body, it will revolt, “so do I.”

· If one complains about the sand that intrudes into his shoes, it will shout, “whoever told you to wear a highly ventilated shoes in a lahar area.”

· If one complains about the dust, all the more, the blinding dust will fly right into his face and taunt, “why didn’t you bring any mask anyway?”

· If one complains about the speeding vehicles, the drivers will only yell, “this is our work, yours is but a luxuriously hobby, give way.” The ultra marathon then ends with an ultra-complainathon.

3. Be realistic. Deal with what is in your hands.

· The sun, the sand, the road, the dark, etc. are beyond one’s control. But preparing well will definitely mitigate their adverse impact on one’s run. The body eventually adjusts.

4. You can only beat yourself

· You can only compete with yourself. If you set your eyes on others, that’s your end. You will not enjoy your run. Your ego will keep bothering you. Your pride will scream, will shout, will nag. Your muscles become stiff. You become cranky to all. You will frown all the way, aged, and then finish the race. What a race that was! Instead of victorious feelings, you are unhappy in the end.

5. Enjoy the run

· There’s no way to go but enjoy. Anything difficult becomes easier when it is enjoyable.

6. Focus and contrate

· Take each step at a time. Slow down in front of churches and pray to God for safety. Only think of uplifting thoughts.

7. Trust

· Running an ultra is initially impossible. With trust in the self, others, and God, you will be surprised how immense your physical and inner power is. You will be supported by fellow runners and their support crew. You will discover a lot of kind people. You will treasure every minute. You will value your body. You will be grateful with your life.

8. Train

· Training need not be stressful. As the body adjusts to increasing kilometers, there’ll be pain. As they say, pain is mandatory but sorrow is optional. You may train with others but never rely on them. You are fully accountable to your own training.

9. Run for a good cause

· The BDM is one good, great, and ultimate running destination for the strong yet humble runners.

10. Thank and give back

· Offer a sincere prayer, thanks, to all the organizers, your supporters, the locals, and God for making you reach the finish line.

The story above was originally the author’s scribbled thoughts. I was inspired by what he wrote that I asked him to write his experience and allow me to post it in my blog. If you’re one of those who might want to give it a “go” for ultra marathon, I hope his story and insights inspire you.

I salute the BDM finishers for your courage and perseverance!

Priceless Valor

It was almost springtime when I first set foot Japan in 2001. I was one of those fortunate enough to represent the Philippines for the Philippine ASEAN-Japan Friendship Association for the 21st Century Programme in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The most significant moment during my month-long visit was when we stayed in Hiroshima, visited museums, saw famous landmarks and World War II Memorial. A Japanese war veteran who shared his experience highlighted the event.

Upon my return to Manila, I took a trip to Bataan and visited another WWII Memorial known as Dambana ng Kagitingan or Altar of Valor. A fellow PAJAFA-21 member hosted that visit. Indeed, it was a great trip.

Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), Mount Samat , Bataan, Philippines

View from the top. The Memorial Cross, a 92-meter marble, steel and concrete, is a viewing place 555 feet above sea level. One can go to the top through an elevator in just a few seconds.

Then, in 2005, I accompanied and toured an American visitor to Corregidor, Bataan, and at Capas, Tarlac WWII Memorial. It was during this time that I was totally awed by the valor of POWs who were forced to march a distance of over a hundred kilometer that started from Mariveles, Bataan to Camp O’Donnell, thus, the famous Bataan Death March.

Corredigor War Memorial

Capas National Shrine, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines

Then, in 2006, I met another war veteran, Hans Kasten IV, an American-German soldier. David Jones, a British friend, introduced him to me so I can encode his manuscripts, which, to my understanding, will be a part of his memoir. He was ninety years old when I met him. He was a gentleman with pretty sharp memory. He was a prominent figure in some WWII history books. I had a chance of working with him and edited the few chapters of his memoir. Unknown to us, we have in our country a holocaust survivor who stayed in the Philippines for six decades and married to a Filipina. I have lost touch with him in the latter part of 2006 and it was only last month that I knew of his death. He passed away in 2007 before reaching his 91st birthday.

And just last month, I visited Corregidor once again.

Different war stories and experiences but with one common role, valiant soldiers during WWII. Philippines had suffered great loss of life and tremendous physical destruction by the time the war was over.

On April 5, Sunday, to commemorate the Bataan Death March, the 1st Bataan Death March 102k Ultramarathon Race was held. 81 brave warriors ran under the scorching heat of the sun. 65 runners reached the finish line within the cut-off time of 18 hours. What a magnificent display of valor to run and finish 102 kilometers!

I salute you for your bravery to run, endure, and survive the Bataan Death March.

You may also visit Bald Runner’s blog for the recap of this great run.