This page supports the discussion series, WWI to Bataan, developed by Dan Perkins.
   
     

This website contains information about a series of events that commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle for Bataan, in the Philippines, during World War II; and the longstanding friendship that exists between the peoples of the United States of America and the peoples of the Philippines.

 

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PHOTO GALLERY

[Above] The view, looking east along the Chicago River, from the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge, on the morning of April 8. 2017. A sliver of the bridge's watch lower appears along the left edge of the photo. 

[Below] Two of Chicago's impressive skyscrapers loom over the watchtower of the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge.

 

[Above] Dan Perkins, Communications Consultant and Bataan75 Event Coordinator, stands with Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr., Deputy Consul General of the Philippines, in Chicago, to frame the 1949 plaque officially naming the State Street Bridge, the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge.

[Above] Two members of the Consulate General of the Philippines, Anna Liza F. Alcantara, Cultural Officer, and Melchor P. Lalunio, Jr., Consul, pose for a picture next to the wreath commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle for Bataan.  The plaque above the wreath contains the following dedication:

BATAAN-CORREGIDOR

MEMORIAL BRIDGE

DEDICATED

TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE GALLANT HEROES FROM THE CHICAGO AREA WHO WERE MEMBERS OF THE BESIEGED GARRISON ON THE BATAAN PENINSULA AND AT CORREGIDOR, PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, IN WORLD WAR II.

MAY THE COURAGE AND FORTITUDE DISPLAYED BY THE GROUP IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY BE A CONSTANT INSPIRATION TO THE CITIZENS.

1949

 
 
 
[Above]  An impressive display of World War II uniforms worn by U.S. personnel who took part in the Battle for Bataan graced the entry to the Consulate General.  [Below]  The centerpiece of the display was a frame copy of the Herald American, announcing that nearly 37,000 were trapped and awaiting an uncertain fate following the fall of Bataan to invading forces of Imperial Japan.
 
[Above]  Among the Americans captured by the Japanese, at Bataan, on April 9, 1942, was Col. Hattie Brantley.  She survived imprisonment and following her liberation, was elevated to the rank of Lt. Colonel. [Below] Shown wearing the top half of the cavalry uniform that once belonged to Sgt. 1st Class, Dan Figuracion, a survivor of the Battle for Bataan, is Sean Conejos, a member of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society.  Figuracion passed five days before this picture was taken.
 
 
 

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Saturday, May 6, 2017, 2 pm

Maywood Public Library

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Day of Valor Sets the Stage for Future Collaborations among Americans, Filipino-Americans and Filipinos in Commemorating the Service and Sacrifice of Those who Fought at Bataan, during WW II.

by Dan Perkins

The towers along the Chicago River glistened, as the sun rose, on a refreshingly crisp Saturday morning, April 8th, 2017.  Nearby, a small group gathered at the intersection of State Street and Wacker Drive. Their purpose was to remember the fall of Bataan, and those who died and those who were imprisoned, back in 1942, when the Philippines were overrun by Japanese military forces.

The remembrance is an annual observance, in Chicago.  Each year, on or around April 9th, the Consulate General of the Philippines, in Chicago, hosts Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor).

This year, the remembrance was held a day before the actual anniversary of the surrender.  As is customary, a wreath was briefly placed under one of three plaques that adorn the watchtower of the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge.  After photos were taken, the remembrance moved to the Consulate General, which is located a few blocks south of the bridge, on Michigan Avenue.

The Day of Valor draws individuals from the Philippines, as well as Filipino-American communities across the Midwest, and beyond.  They are joined by American veterans and their loved ones, as well as local and state officials.  They all gather to pay homage to the thousands of American and Filipino soldiers who were trapped on the Bataan Peninsula, in the Philippines, four months after the Japanese Imperial forces bombed Pearl Harbor.

This year, the United States Armed Services were represented by Col. Mark Jackson, Assistant Adjutant General, Illinois Army National Guard.

Inside the Consulate General, the entry contained a display of World War II uniforms, worn by American service personnel, along with other memorabilia from the war in the Pacific.  The display was prepared by a representative of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society, Sean Conejos, who wore the top half of a uniform that belonged to a close family friend, Sgt. First Class, Dan Figuracion, of the 26th Cavalry Regiment.  Conejos told the gathering that Sgt. Figuracion, who had fought against the invading forces, and had survived the war, died on April 3rd, 2017, five days before this year's Day of Valor.

After a light lunch, featuring Filipino cuisine, the staff of the Philippine Consulate General welcomed all who were in attendance.  The proceedings were expertly conducted by Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr., Deputy Consul General.  During the proceedings, the deputy consul recognized members of various Filipino-American communities and organizations from across the Chicagoland area. 

When the Consul General, Generoso D. G. Calonge, addressed the gathering, he spoke with great admiration for those who resisted the Japanese occupation of his homeland.  He expressed his personal appreciation for the service and sacrifice of two Filipino-American veterans, who were in attendance, and had fought in the Battle for Bataan.  The two veterans, Emilio Garcera and Dominador Ramirez, were commended by nearly every speaker during the event.  Everyone in attendance recognized that the two men provided a direct, but fading link to all who withstood the tyranny visited upon the Philippines, in the spring of 1942.

Calonge

The day had great significance for Consul General Calonge, in part, because it was the last such event he will preside over in Chicago.  In August, Calonge will conclude his assignment with the Consulate in Chicago.  At the end of the commemoration, the Consul General disclosed privately that the Day of Valor will always be a personal matter for him, because his wife is from Bataan.

The Bataan region of the Philippines was well represented at the day's events.  Among the delegation from Bataan was a gentleman named Jose Maria 'Joemar" Camacho, who shared with me his personal connection to the war.

Camacho's father, a law student at the time of the Japanese invasion,  was rounded up and imprisoned by the Japanese, along with other law students in Bataan.  A torturous session left his father paralyzed; but Camacho's father was lucky, he survived. The Japanese were notorious for their cruel interrogations, many of which ended with beheadings.

Camacho said he was proud to represent the Bataan region, especially this year, which marks the 75th anniversary of the fall of his region. 

Seventy five years is a long time; and during the time, the special connection, which Chicago and the surrounding areas have with Bataan, and the people of the Philippines, has been forgotten by most residents of Illinois. But, if one knows where to look, the connection between the Philippines and Chicagoland remains evident and strong.  There is a large Filipino-American community in Chicago, and in surrounding communities, which explains the strong turnout during the second half of the Day of Valor.

Another connection rests in the fact that during World War II, a significant number of young men from the Chicagoland area were assigned to the Philippines, and were caught up in the Battles for Bataan and Corregidor.  Commemorations of their valor and service are held twice a year, in the Chicagoland area.  In April, the Philippine Consulate General hosts a remembrance, that starts at the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge, and is followed by a reception at the Consulate on Michigan Avenue.  In September, the Maywood Bataan Day Organization (MBDO), hosts a commemoration, at Veterans Memorial Maywood Park, in Maywood, Illinois. 

Maywood is located approximately 15 miles directly west of downtown Chicago.  The community of Maywood lost many of its sons in the infamous Bataan Death March; and several mothers of the captured soldiers formed the organization that became the Maywood Bataan Day Organization, to ensure their sons were not forgotten by the nation, or its government.

This year, three members of MBDO's board attended the April observance in Chicago, including Edwin H. Walker, IV, vice president of MBDO, Ed Brotonel, and Jose R. Galarza, Jr.

The Bataan delegation expressed great interest in working with members of MBDO to create a meaningful and endearing 75th commemoration for both communities.

A key objective of the September commemoration in Maywood is to sustain the longstanding friendship between the people of the Philippines and the American people.  Political leaders in both countries have expressed interested in honoring that friendship, which has endured for over a century.

Several American politicians sent representatives to this year's Day of Valor, including U.S. Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky. Each representative read proclamations regarding the day. Thomas Choi, Public Engagement Manager for Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner, read a proclamation, signed by the Governor, which recognized the importance of the relationship between the people of the Philippines and the people of Illinois.  The City of Chicago asked Evelyn Rodriguez, Advisor for Neighborhood Development and Community Engagement, to read a proclamation from the Mayor, expressing the City's interest in supporting continued good relations between Chicagoans, Filipino-Americans, and the people of the Philippines.

Over the next few months, the MBDO board will reach out to state and local leaders, and others, with invitations to its September commemoration, in Maywood.  For its part, the Village of Maywood, under newly re-elected Mayor Edweena Perkins, is erecting a wall of honor to enhance the southeast corner of Veteran Memorial Maywood Park, where the annual commemoration is held.

As this year's Day of Valor neared its conclusion, one of the presenters recalled an exchange with a veteran, who had survived the Battle of Bataan.  The veteran said of the enduring relationship between Americans and Filipinos, (and I am paraphrasing), "This is what I was fighting for, and this is worth dying for." 

The Day of Valor proceedings concluded with a hearty round of applause for the two Filipino-American gentlemen who fought for America, on behalf of the people of the Philippines, on April 9, 1942, and beyond.

The MBDO Board eagerly awaits its turn to again recognize Emilio Garcera and Dominador Ramirez, on September 10th, in Maywood.

Bataan75

 

Shown above are the primary presenters and veterans at the April 8, 2017 Day of Valor, held at the Consulate General of the Republic of the Philippines.  Seated (left to right): Generoso D.G. Calonge, Consul General; Dominado Ramirez and Emilio N. Garcera, Filipino-American WWII Veterans; Edwin Walker, IV, MBDO Vice President; Col. Mark Jackson, Illinois Army National Guard. Shown standing (left to right): Thomas Choi, Public Engagement Manager for Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner; Evelyn Rodriguez, Advisor for Neighborhood Development and Community Engagement, City of Chicago; and Abbey Eusebio, Constituent Advocate for U.S. Congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky.
 

Event Sponsors

 

Maywood Bataan Day Organization     Village of Maywood

 

 

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