Bataan Memorial Death March on the Potomac draws nearly a hundred participants

April 22, 2023.

Dangerfield Island, Virginia

For the third year in a row, families and friends in the DMV’s Filipino American community gathered early Saturday morning to honor the service and sacrifice of Filipino and American soldiers who endured the Bataan Death March. Joining them this year are a dozen cadets from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, a student from West Point, and Philippine diplomatic and defense officials.

FilVetREP Regional Director Sonny Busa welcomes participants to the third Bataan Memorial Death March on the Potomac.

At the opening ceremony, Maryland Delegate Kris Valderrama cheered the participants and thanked them for their support. She exhorted the marchers to remember they are the descendants of heroes and to never forget the bravery and sacrifice of the Death Marchers in April 1942. Valderrama later joined the march.

Also speaking were Brigadier General (R) USAF, Jimmy Canlas, who described how his grandfather endured the horrors of the Death March and survived to raise a strong and accomplished family. The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Philippine Embassy Jaime Ascalon also related to the marchers how he is the descendant of a Death March survivor–his grandfather. His grandfather is a source of pride and inspiration to him all his life. Many of the marchers had similar stories of relatives on the Death March which they passed on while on the memorial march and during the lunch. It is a bond unlike any others. Their pride was evident. – Sonny Busa

Malcolm Peck, 84, was the oldest marcher. His late wife Aida, a Filipina, was a descendant of Death Marchers. Malcolm marched 14 miles to honor her and her forebears. That he did this in a torrential downpour with thunder and lightning all around makes it all the more remarkable.
The twelve Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy were mostly native born Filipinos whose parents immigrated to the US. They grew up with stories of the Bataan Death March and wanted to be part of a meaningful memorial event. These young men and women will soon be officers in the US Navy and no doubt will derive inspiration and courage in their careers from the death marchers of Bataan. This is the first time for the Naval Academy to participate in a memorial Death March. It won’t be the last. In photo with them are FilVetREP Region 2 Director Jay Cabacar (left) and VFW Post 5471 Commander Ike Puzon (right).

Maryland Delegate Kris Valderrama

The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) of Washington DC manned three nursing stations to attend to the medical needs of the marchers.  Their encouragement and medical professionalism during the march was a salve to tired bodies and spirits.  Several of them marched many miles also.  

Richard Mercado (left) leads a group of marchers from the starting line.

Manning the registration desk were (from left) Diann Puzon, Lida Peterson and Linda Cabacar.


The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.