Bataan (bătănˈ, –tänˈ, bätä-änˈ) [key], peninsula and province (1990 pop. 426,000), W Luzon, the Philippines, between Manila Bay and the South China Sea. Balanga is the provincial capital. A mountainous, thickly jungled region, it has some of the best bamboo forests in the Philippines. There is a pulp and paper mill, a large fertilizer plant, and an oil refinery. Subsistence farming is carried on. Early in World War II (Dec., 1941–Jan., 1942), the U.S.-Filipino army withdrew to Bataan, where it entrenched and, despite the lack of naval and air support, fought a gallant holding action that upset the Japanese timetable for conquest. The army was crippled by starvation and disease when it was finally overwhelmed on Apr. 9, 1942. The U.S. and Filipino troops captured there were subjected to the long, brutal, and infamous "Death March," a 66-mi (106-km) trek to the prison camp near Cabanatuan during which some 11,000 perished. Homage is annually paid these victims on Bataan Day, a national holiday, when large groups of Filipinos solemnly rewalk parts of the death route. The battleground of Bataan is now a national shrine. See also Corregidor.
See S. L. Falk, Bataan: The March of Death (1962); R.Conroy, The Battle of Bataan (1969); H. Sides, Ghost Soldiers (2001); M. and E. M. Norman, Tears in the Darkness (2009).