On April 9, 1942, after over three months of bloody conflict, the Battle of Bataan came to an end when General Edward P. King surrendered 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers to Japanese forces. The Philippines commemorates this World War II trauma with a national holiday and the Surrender Site Marker, a sculpture strangely set on school grounds.
There is no charge to visit the Surrender Site Marker, and it’s possible to visit independently, depending on how comfortable you feel showing up at a small-town elementary school. Most visit the marker as part of a tour from Manila of key sites of the Battle of Bataan. This important World War II battle led to the death of thousands on the Bataan Death March and may have changed the course of the Second World War.
Things to Know Before You Go
- People with family who served during the Battle of Bataan and military history buffs will find the Surrender Site Marker especially interesting.
- The Surrender Site Marker, created from photos of the actual surrender, has a photorealist quality unusual in sculptures.
- The surrender did not mark the end of American defense of the Philippines. Resistance continued on Corregidor Island.
How to Get There
The Surrender Site Marker is set in the grounds of the Balanga Elementary School, where the surrender was signed. It is around 3.5 hours from Manila by bus, and you’ll need to negotiate a tricycle from the bus stop. By far the easiest way to visit is as one stop on an organized door-to-door tour of key Battle of Bataan sites.
When to Get There
The Surrender Site Marker is rarely crowded. As the location is on school grounds, it’s best to visit during the day. Many visitors like to combine a look at the Surrender Site Marker with more in-depth exploration at the nearby Bataan World War II Museum, which is open morning to afternoon every day but Sunday.
The Battle of Bataan
During World War II, as Japanese forces pushed across Asia-Pacific, American and Filipino forces in the Philippines resisted longer than anywhere in Southeast Asia—despite lacking rations and basic medical care. By April 1942, less than half of the troops were fit enough to walk 300 feet (91 meters) and fire a weapon. After the surrender, thousands would die when forced to march 65 miles (105 kilometers) on the Bataan Death March, a Japanese war crime.