Mayor Concepcion said that aside from the infamous start of the Death march in this town, Mariveles is also rich in history, with largest beautiful beaches and the most fast growing economic town in Bataan being the site of the Free-port Area of Bataan.
Historians claim that the Bataan Death March was the forced march of American and Filipino prisoners of war by the Japanese during World War II.
Began here or now the so called “KM Zero,” the 63-mile march started with 72,000* prisoners from this southern end of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines on April 9, 1942 all the way to Tarlac, recalled Gonzales.
Historians said the horrible conditions and harsh treatment of the prisoners during the Bataan Death March resulted in an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 deaths since those collapsed and sought water from civilians were bayoneted to death along the way by the guarding Japanese soldiers.
Gonzales recalled that Mariveles was actually the last hurrah of the American and Filipino soldiers after they retreated to this town on December 22, 1941 to escape heavy bombardment by the invaders in Manila.
By April 1942, they had been holding out in the Jungles of Bataan for more than three months, causing some to starve to death.
“There was nothing left to do but surrender to the superior Japanese soldiers during that time,” said an American writer.
History showed that on April 9, 1942, U.S. General Edward P. King signed the surrender document, ending the Battle of Bataan.
The remaining 72,000 American and Filipino soldiers, mossy weak and sickly, were taken by the Japanese as prisoners of war (POW) and the deadly Bataan Death March began.
History writers claim the goal of the march was to get the 72,000 captured American and Filipino POWs from Mariveles to Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac.
The prisoners were made to march 55 miles from Mariveles to San Fernando, then travel by train to Capas under scorching heat of the sun.
From Capas, the prisoners were again to march for the last eight miles to Camp O’Donnell.
Camp O ‘Donnelle is now the Headquarters of the Army’s 3rd Mechanized Battalion.
“Mayor Concepcion is really preserving the rich history of this to let the young and future generations aware of what Mariveles is,” added Gonzales.