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Celebrating the Day of Valor in the Philippines

Celebrating the Day of Valor in the Philippines

The Day of Valor holiday in the Philippines, called Araw ng Kagitingan in Filipino, is a day of both celebration and mourning. On the one hand, it honors the courage of Filipino soldiers in World War 2, and on the other, it commemorates those who lost their lives in the Bataan Death March.

In this article, you’ll learn about the history behind the Day of Valor, look at how Pinoys mark this day, and gain some relevant Filipino vocabulary.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Day of Valor in the Philippines?

In the Philippines, the Day of Valor is a public holiday for honoring the bravery, or katapangan, of Filipino and American soldiers during the Second World War. In particular, it commemorates one of the most horrendous things to happen in the Philippines in World War 2: The Bataan Death March.

What was the Bataan Death March?

A Bataan Death March Memorial

Leading up to the Bataan Death March, the Japanese had been able to occupy the Philippines. At the time, many of the Filipino and American soldiers were injured or ill, and so the American Major General Edward P. King decided to sumuko, or surrender, his forces. This took place on April 9, 1942.

Upon this surrender, the Japanese began marching King’s soldiers toward Camp O’Donnell, which was approximately ninety miles away in San Fernando. Many soldiers died during this march.

But all was not lost.

King’s surrender and the subsequent march acted as a diversion, allowing the Filipino and American soldiers’ allies more time to get ready for future battles. In the end, this allowed for major victories and turning points for the Filipinos and Americans, such as the Battle of Midway.

In 1945, the Bataan peninsula was once again liberated by the Filipino and American troops.

    → Check out our vocabulary list for another popular Filipino hero: Jose Rizal.

2. When is the Day of Valor Holiday?

One Soldier Rescuing Another

Each year, the Day of Valor is celebrated on April 9. However, if Easter happens to fall on the same date, they may celebrate on a nearby date instead.

3. Traditions and Celebrations for the Day of Valor

A Military Marching Together

The Day of Valor holiday revolves around honoring and celebrating the pagkabayani, or heroism, of the World War 2 soldiers, and mourns the loss of those who died.

On the Day of Valor, Philippines’ veterans from the Second World War parade through the streets of various cities, and the President gives a speech at the Mt. Samat Shrine. This shrine is located in the Bataan province in order to commemorate those who gave their all in digmaan, or war.

While most businesses are closed during the Day of Valor, you may find a few places still open. Because the Day of Valor is usually part of a long weekend, many Filipino families like to spend time together, usually out doing things.

4. Day of Valor Over the Years

Filipinos officially started celebrating the Day of Valor in 1961, but this holiday has had quite a few revisions since then. Perhaps most notably, its name has changed three times!

In 1961, this holiday was called Bataan Day. In 1987, this changed to Araw ng Kagitingan (Bataan and Corregidor Day). Finally, in 2010, it came to be called only Araw ng Kagitingan.

In the U.S. state of Illinois, there’s also a celebration for this holiday (called Bataan Day here). This is because some of the troops serving in the Bataan province were from the Illinois National Guard.

5. Essential Filipino Vocabulary for the Day of Valor

A Cat Standing in Front of a Lion Shadow

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important vocabulary for the Day of Valor in the Philippines!

  • Martsa ng Kamatayan — “Death march”
  • Katapangan — “Bravery”
  • Digmaan — “War”
  • Pagbagsak ng Bataan — “Fall of Bataan”
  • Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig — “Second World War”
  • Sumuko — “Surrender”
  • Magiting — “Valiant”
  • Depensahan — “Defend”
  • Pagkabayani — “Heroism”
  • Ipaglaban ang — “Fight for”
  • Pagkubkob — “Siege”
  • Puwersang militar — “Military force”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Filipino Day of Valor vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Day of Valor holiday with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Is there a holiday in your country to honor national heroes or the military? Let us know about it in the comments!

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