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Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor - featuring "Bataan" Oil Painting [Philippines]

Bataan an oil painting by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo

Araw ng Kagitingan remembers The Fall of Bataan—where over 70,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war surrendered to the Japanese forces. Of this number, over 60,000 were Filipino soldiers. The surrender happened in Bataan, the last stand of the Filipino and American troops. “Bataan has fallen” were the words contained in the message of Captain Salvador P. Lopez and was read by Third Lieutenant Normando Ildefonso-Reyes through the Voice of Freedom Radio broadcasted from Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor Island on this day, 79 years ago.

By virtue of Republic Act No. 9492 of 2007 and Proclamation No. 1105, s. 2015, the Araw ng Kagitingan was declared as a National Holiday to honor and remember all the veterans as well as the allies who fought and died for the country's freedom.

Today, we feature “Bataan” an oil painting by National Artist Fernando Amorsolo (1892-1972) completed in 1942. This work is exhibited in the National Museum of Fine Arts. It is among the recent loans from the Judge Guillermo B. Guevara Foundation to the National Museum of the Philippines. 

Amorsolo’s masterful use of the light is evident in this painting. While he is known for his works featuring young Filipinas in serene poses amid the Philippine countryside, he also produced works that depict the terrors of the Second World War. In the center of this painting is a woman, whose model is said to be his wife.

She is shown looking up with sorrowful eyes. Before her is the of body of a fallen American soldier. According to one of the family members of the lender, Amorsolo may have feared the Japanese who were occupying the Philippines at that time and decided not to paint the USAFFE (United States Army Forces – Far East) buckle on the soldier’s uniform. 

Other equally significant works of the National Artist in this exhibition gallery depicting the Second World War are: “Burning of Santo Domingo Church” (1942), The Burning of Manila (1942), and “Ruins of the Legislative Building” (1945).

Judge Guillermo Guevara (1886-1987), acknowledged as founder of criminology in the Philippines, started collecting works of Fernando Amorsolo in the 1950s. After acquiring “Bataan”, he later commissioned Amorsolo to paint two works illustrating significant events in Philippine history:  “Ang Wakas ni Magallanes” (1963) and “Assassination of Governor Bustamante” (1965). These paintings, along with the Portrait of Judge Guillermo B. Guevara (1950) are also on loan to the National Museum of the Philippines for the appreciation of the public.


Kagitingan ay Gawing Gabay, Pandemya ay Mapagtatagumpayan is this year’s theme for this year’s Araw ng Kagitingan. This serves as a fitting reminder that just like our heroes who fought for our freedom 79 years ago, we can also overcome our current battle against COVID-19 with courage and determination. Today, alongside the commemoration of the bravery of our veteran soldiers, we also honor the heroism of those who are on the frontlines of our war against COVID-19 especially our Filipino nurses, doctors and scientists.

While we stay at home to #BEATCOVID19, here’s the 360-degrees Virtual Tour of the gallery dedicated to War Time in the Philippines of the National Museum of Fine Arts along with eight other galleries featured on this link:

Text and photo by NMP FAD

© National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

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