Monday, May 3, 2010

Tarlac: Capas National Shrine

Our route to Mount Pinatubo took us to Capas, Tarlac. Capas is a very historical town in Central Luzon. This is the site of Camp O'Donnell, an American army facility turned Japanese prisoner camp during World War II. This was the final stop in the historic Bataan Death March.

Capas Shrine

In memory of this episode in Philippine history, what now stands in the site is a war memorial dedicated to the Filipino and American soldiers who endured and fell throughout the 97-kilometer march. The site is now known as the Capas National Shrine or the Paggunita sa Capas.

Capas Shrine

The shrine is 54 hectares of parkland. In the center is a 70-meter obelisk surrounded by a black marble wall on which lay inscribed the names of the soldiers known to have died in Capas as a result of the death march. Thousands suffered the brutality and the inhumanity throughout the march. Many died en route to the camp.

Capas Shrine

It's by visiting places like these you get a sense of who you are and what your place is. You become humbled by the enormity of it all. The things you read in textbooks back in grade school start to mean something. They're not just words. They're people and places that changed the world as we know it.

Capas Shrine

My travel companions commented on the way home that we were lucky we weren't born during the war. I agree. At the same time, there is this huge responsibility for us. At the very least, we should never forget events like these, no matter how horrible and gruesome they may be. They are part of history, our history, our story. More than anything, it is that we should always remember.

Capas Shrine


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