Manila Bulletin

Falling down, getting up


“WHY do we, Filipinos, celebrate a ‘Fall’?”

That was a remark I heard a lot in the past. It has to do with what the entire nation marks on April 9 of every year. The holiday used to be called “Bataan Day” which marked the “Fall of Bataan” – a historical event which happened in 1942.

The holiday label caused much debate and triggered a lot of discussion. Those who object to the name of the event said it made the world think that Filipinos are “losers” who actually emulate “defeat.”

That holiday is now called “Araw ng Kagitingan.”

The change in the holiday label may have removed the connotatio­ns of “defeat” and “being losers.”

Our elders in Rizal province, however, have always pointed out that the “Fall of Bataan” was actually a “win moment,” a “glorious occasion,” and an occasion to celebrate the “uncommon valor” of the Filipino soldier and of every Filipino. Let me share their perspectiv­e. According to our elders, what Filipinos did in the events leading to that infamous “Fall” was important to the peace-loving world.

They used to tell us that Bataan – that peninsula west of Metro Manila – was the designated site of a “last stand” against invading forces. They said that at that point of the Second World War, the Philippine­s was the last country in the Far East left standing. The military forces made up of Filipinos and Americans were to give their all in a bid to delay the total victory of the invaders.

They were to do so with just a meager supply of ammunition, and not much food and water. They had to rely on pure courage and on the promise of an American general that he “shall return.”

The gallant stand in Bataan made by what was then known as the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) resulted in the deaths of thousands and the eventual surrender of some 80,000 wounded, sick, famished Filipinos soldiers who eventually joined the equally infamous “Death March” from Mariveles, Bataan, to San Fernando, Pampanga.

That was not the only consequenc­e, though.

As historians put it, “by holding the Japanese forces for three months, the 120,000 Filipino and American troops had significan­tly delayed their enemy, in what was the last part of the region resisting, and in doing so reduced the opportunit­y of Japan to approach and attack the almost indefensib­le northern coast of Australia.”

Yes. The Fall of Bataan prevented the Fall of Australia and a total defeat of the allied forces.

Our elders also point out that the defense of Bataan was a showcase of what is sterling in the character of the Filipino.

They say we have an enormous capacity for pain and suffering. We are a people who do not allow setbacks to put us down and keep us on the ground. We do not surrender. We just keep fighting.

Today’s leadership gurus call this the “Adversity Quotient” or AQ.

AQ is a score, much like IQ and EQ. The AQ score helps one understand his or her abilities to deal with the adversitie­s that come with life. It tells one how resilient he or she is. “Resilience” is what others call the “bounce back” power.

I guess that is what differenti­ates “Kagitingan” from “Katapangan.” Valor from Bravery. The Filipinos who stood up against superior forces displayed “Kagitingan.”

They showed the world that they are not daunted by adversity; that scarcity of resources does not dictate how they will fight the battle; and that they will always rise after a brief, even if nasty, fall.

Antipoleño­s have set up a marker within our city hall compound to honor Rizaleños who were with the USAFFE forces which defended Bataan till that April 9 Fall.

The marker honors their participat­ion in that historic event. That marker is also a reminder to all of us that we are a people with very high Adversity Quotients.

We join the rest of the nation in rememberin­g and saluting the uncommon valor of the Filipino soldiers who fought in Bataan in 1942, and of every Filipino fighting his or her own battle in life.

A Holy Week Feat

A record number of devotees joined the pilgrimage-on-foot to Antipolo last Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) authoritie­s estimate the crowd to be about four million, surpassing the 3.6 million registered last year.

Despite the humongous size of the crowd, this year’s Holy Week pilgrimage to Antipolo was more orderly and the crowd more discipline­d. There were no reports of altercatio­ns or scuffles. We dealt with less garbage this year than in the previous years.

We thank the pilgrims who visited Antipolo and the Shrine of the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage for helping us take care of them and of the environmen­t.

We thank and congratula­te too the various stakeholde­rs who helped bring about this success: the Archdioces­e of Antipolo and the church workers of the Antipolo Cathedral; our City Hall Team; the PNP; the Bureau of Fire Protection; the Philippine National Red Cross and the many volunteer groups who came to share in the tasks.

That Holy Week feat also displayed our collective “Kagitingan.”

*For feedback, please email it to antipoloci­ or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivisio­n, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.

Why do we, Filipinos, celebrate a ‘Fall’?

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