‘Freedom Trail’ hikers rekindle Bataan Death March, to visit historic SF Train Station

MABALACAT CITY – The City of San Fernando, particularly the old SF Train Station played an important role in the lives of the Filipino and American soldiers during World War II.

That is why on Monday, April 10, 2017, the ‘Freedom Trail’ which commemorates the 75th Anniversary of Bataan Death March (BDM), will pass through the old San Fernando Train Station.

The boxcar was one of the many freight cars of the Manila Railway Company before World War II. It measures about six feet long, eight feet wide and six feet high and consisted of wooden walls and metal roof.The boxcar can accommodate only 50 prisoners but the Japanese Imperial Army were loading up to 150 men inside one boxcar. Many Filipino and American soldiers have died because of lack of air.

It was in the San Fernando Train Station where the “Battling Bastards of Bataan” as they were called, made a stop over and boarded packed boxcars of the railway that runs to Camp O’Donell in Capas, Tarlac. The boxcars made a similar stop over in the Angeles Train Station where Filipinos hurled food and water to weary allied soldiers.
Names of prisoners of war who marched from Bataan to Capas encrypted at the Capas National Shrine. Photos by Deng Pangilinan

More of the Filipino and American soldiers have died along the way to Capas.
The Memorial Monument the ‘Obelisk’ is the focal center of the shrine which stand for peace.The Capas National Shrine was established as Camp O’Donnell in 1940 as a center for military training of the Filipino youth and transformed into a prisoner camp by the Japanese Imperial Forces after the fall of Bataan. Renamed Capas Prisoners of War Concentration Camp, some 60,500 Filipino and American soldiers were herded in this camp. –Deng Pangilinan

In the re-enactment march called ‘Freedom Trail’, members of the US Special Forces, together with the Philippine military, will march the 145-kilometer route of the Bataan Death March to honor World War II soldiers.

The ‘Freedom Trail’ will pass through five historical stops — Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga before they reach Capas, Tarlac by 7 am of April 11. Organizers are hoping that along the way, the people will go out, cheer or provide food and water to the participants like what Filipinos did 75 years ago.

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