April 14, 1956: The Bacolorians Who Escaped from the Death March

In April 1942 – The Filipino and American prisoners were forced to walk under the heat of the sun and the cold night from Mariveles and Bagac to Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac. The USAFFE forces were captured by the Japanese and were made Prisoners of War (PoWs, for short) after the fall of Bataan. There were 70,000 Filipino and American soldiers who survived the battle of Bataan and underwent this forced and torturous evacuation. This tragic history is now known as the Death March.

However, amidst this terrible journey, several sons of Bacolor managed to escape from the Death March. Among them was M/Sgt. Juanito T. Bognot. He made a run for his freedom in Guagua 5 kilometers from Bacolor, changed his uniform into a civilian clothing and then helped his fellow comrades escape as well.

The Samia brothers were the Bacolor version of the famous “Sullivans” of America or also known as the Sullivan brothers. They were World War ll sailors serving together on the USS Juneau. The young Samia brothers risked their lives to fight for freedom and democracy and were among the many soldiers forced into the Death March. Honorable lieutenants, Teodorico Samia and his brother Severino Samia, who was a physician, died in Bataan. They also had younger brothers, namely Alfredo “ Edong” Samia and Federico “Dedy” Samia. Luckily they returned home but with the heavy hearts for losing a family member who died from the same traumatic journey they underwent. Federico “Dedy” Samia then sadly passed away due to Malaria, which he first contracted in Bataan.

It was also mentioned that there were two more brothers, namely Eleazar Samia who was beheaded by the Japanese during the Japanese occupation due to guerrilla activities, and the youngest son of the family, Francisco Bienvenido Samia y Olalia, who survived the war and died last August 19, 2013.