If you’re thinking Araw ng Kagitingan is just another non – working holiday where you can finally relax at home with your family and friends, well you’re half – right about that. A lot of people often ask, “Why do we celebrate Araw ng Kagitingan?” and the answer is because we commemorate the Fall of Bataan, where numerous Filipinos have to suffer the Bataan death march during the second world war. And that’s just the story, right?

Here’s a more detailed guide about the national holiday and everything you need to know about Araw ng Kagitingan history and how to commemorate our modern day heroes!

Looking Back: The Fall of Bataan

Okay, we’re going to take you back and time travel to one of the most important colonization periods the Philippines has faced, which is when the Japanese occupied the Philippines.

On the dawn of April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King of the United States Army Forces assigned for the Luzon force was forced to surrender his 76,000 forces that comprised of Filipinos, Chinese, and Americans to the Japanese troops, resulting them to make a large number of prisoners walk 150km from San Fernando to Camp O’Donnell located in Capas, Tarlac, making it known to be the ultimate violation for human rights with many people getting sick and some even dying.

During this time, it also served as a key intervention during World War II as this allowed many allies to prepare for many battles later on, which put the progress of the Japanese to a stop in the Pacific and led to a turn in the fortunes and allied victory, which eventually led in reclaiming of the Bataan Peninsula by Filipino and American forces in February 8, 1945.

Fast Forward: Araw ng Kagitingan as a National Holiday

araw ng kagitingan history

Under Republic Act of 3022, the Day of Valor was officially declared as a national holiday after the bill was passed by the Congress in 1961 to pay tribute to captured soldiers that have faced many battles such as the Battle of Corregidor and the Raid of Cabanatuan and the hardships they have endured while participating in the Bataan death march and being injured and killed at the same time.

It was known as Bataan Day at first, but was renamed to Araw ng Kagitingan to also pay tribute to those who defended Bataan, Bessang, and Corregidor, making it originally placed near April 9th in 2007, but it was proclaimed as its official date to commemorate Day of Valor and Corregidor Day in 2009.

The law states that citizens and public offices shall hold a silence at 4:30pm to remember as a part of celebrating Araw ng Kagitingan. This is also where veterans from the Second World War parade around many cities of the Philippines which will take place at Mt. Samar Shrine in Bataan in honor of the heroism and sacrifice of the American soldiers and the Filipino forces during World War II. This is where the president gives a speech to give honor to our modern day heroes.

According to an advisory made by DOLE as of 2021, employees who don’t work at this day will receive 100% of their wages a day while for those who work on that day will be paid 200% of their wages. On the other hand, if employees decide to go overtime (whether if the regular holiday falls on their rest day or if they work on that holiday), they will receive an additional 30% of their salaries while if they work on a regular holiday that falls on their rest day, they will receive an additional 30% of their daily wage of 200%.

How Do Filipinos Celebrate Araw ng Kagitingan?

Visiting the Bataan tourism center, appreciating the veterans during Parangal Para sa mga Beterano, observing the foot and float parades while witnessing the marching band exhibition and Drum and Lyre band competition and visiting the World War II in Bataan are some of the ways to celebrate Bataan Day.

However, if you really want an extra experience for the national holiday, you can also join the Bataan Freedom Run, watch a concert at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, and shop for some souvenirs at the Galing Bataan Trade Fair! It’s also a must to visit the War Museum and experience the national commemoration in Mt. Samat to see the weapons the Filipino and American troops have used during the war and to pay respect to the veterans who have endured and faced the trials and tribulations that happened during the Bataan death march.

The Essence of Dambana ng Kagitingan

The Mount Samat Shrine (also known as Dambana ng Kagitingan) was built in 1970 in time to celebrate the end of the Second World War and to commemorate untreated wounds of innocent people participated in the Death March, soldiers who survived the heat prostration, and thousands died during the Fall of Bataan. The shrine and the cross towers the majority of the Philippine History, providing lessons for the younger generation to learn and a whole lot more to constantly fight for anything important in the country.

Keeping the ‘Spirit of Valor’ Alive

Through the present and future generations of Filipinos, it’s no question that education is not only the key to knowledge and power, but it’s also a door to see Filipinos who were oppressed during the Second World War and the Philippine history.

Nonetheless, Araw ng Kagitingan is not just a regular holiday for you to enjoy, but to remember the veterans who have endured all the hardships for us to enjoy the freedom they fought from the Japanese, sparking constant hope for Filipinos to fight things that are important, paying respect to those who fought for injustice and freedom, and celebrating the end of tyranny and the start of independence.

Now go wave that Philippine flag of yours like it’s independence day and celebrate the Day of Valor with courage, hope, and a renewed spirit. After all, it’s an executive order that made this day a reality!