This year’s observance theme is “Kagitingan ng mga Beterano, Inspirasyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino”.
We remember today the heroism of Filipinos and American Soldiers when the Japanese occupied the Philippines during World War II. Major General Edward P. King, of the United States Army, was forced to surrender more than 76,000 Filipinos, Chinese and American soldiers to the Japanese at dawn on April 9, 1942. The soldiers were forced to take a 90-mile (about 145 kilometers) hike to Camp O’Donnell in San Fernando. Thousands of prisoners died during the hike (also known as the Bataan Death March) due to starvation, dehydration and diseases before they could reach the camp.
The Day of Valor was a national observance until a Letter of Instruction No. 1087, dated on November 26, 1980, made “Araw ng Kagitingan” a national public holiday to honor the people who helped bring democracy and freedom in the Philippines during the World War II era. Executive Order No. 203, dated on June 30, 1987, further proclaimed April 9 as “Araw Ng Kagitingan” to pay tribute to the heroes of Bataan, Corregidor and Bessang.
Presidential Proclamation No. 466 series of 1989, declares April 5-11 every year as Philippine Veterans Week.