There are a lot of reasons to travel, may it be for relaxation, finding yourself, trying to experience new things, or just wanting to visit a country listed on your bucket list. We have our own reasons and satisfaction. One of the reasons I travel is to know the history of a place. It satisfies my curiosity about something in the past.
MT. SAMAT NATIONAL SHRINE
Our trip to Bataan caught one of my interests— World War 2 history. The province of Bataan has been the last stronghold of the Filipino and American soldiers during World War 2. The soldiers fought bravely for freedom yet suffered hugely in a tragic event called the Bataan Death March. Mt. Samat National Shrine or what we know as Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valour) was built to give respect and recognition to our fallen heroes.
After visiting Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, next to our itinerary were Dunsulan Falls and the Mt. Samat National Shrine. Both are located in Pilar, Bataan, and were near Las Casas, so it was a good idea to visit them as well while we were in Bataan.
The shrine was erected near the summit of Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan. A road was built for easy access which can be driven for 10-15 minutes depending on your speed.
As we enter the complex, a view of Manila Bay and the West Philippine Sea can be seen. The area has two significant structures. The first one is the Shrine of Valour which also houses the museum and the second one is the Memorial Cross.
SHRINE OF VALOUR
The Shrine of Valour was beautifully designed with colorful stained glasses and white columns. Written on the walls was the story of what had happened in the Battle of Bataan. At the bottom of the shrine were relief sculptures depicting the events that had happened to the soldiers during that event.
The Memorial Cross can be reached by a concrete pathway. At first, we thought that it can be reached by a vertical stairway which made us concerned if our parents can climb it. haha! Fortunately, the pathway was designed in curved and small elevations, so no need to worry about that aching muscles and joints. Reaching the base of the cross showed a better view of the surroundings. The cross has a viewing deck in its arms which provides a 360 view of Bataan. Unfortunately, the elevator going to the deck was not in service at that time. Nonetheless, the view from the base of the cross was still amazing. The base of the cross was filled with sculptures showing prominent figures and events that had happened in our country. These sculptures were made by one of our National Artists, Napoleon Abueva.
In addition to the experience was the museum located in the basement of the shrine. There lay old armaments, uniforms, and photographs. The security guard told us that the place was haunted. Some say that the past owners were coming back for their old equipment—unrest souls still lurking around the area. Seeing the photos and reading the stories made me appreciate the struggles of those soldiers at that time and how they faced them to achieve freedom.
This was our last destination for our Bataan tour. Visiting Mt. Samat National Shrine made me think of how blessed we are living in a time of peace. Thinking of the violence and struggles happening in wars is terrifying. When you visit the place, I suggest you breathe deep and be grateful for the peace and freedom we are experiencing today.
- Pilar, Bataan, Philippines
HOW TO GET THERE:
- By Private Transportation:
- Bataan can be accessed via the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). If you take NLEX, exit to San Fernando City.
- Take Jose Abad Santos Avenue which will pass through Guagua and Lubao.
- Continue to Bataan Provincial Highway.
- When you reach an intersection in Pilar, turn right onto Gov. JJ Linao National Road.
- Turn left onto Mt. Samat Road. Look out for the Death March Marker (KM. 19).
- By Commute:
- Ride a bus from Cubao to Balanga, Bataan.
- At Balanga, take a jeepney bound to Cabog-Cabog. Drop at the road leading Mt. Samat. It is after a Death March Marker (KM19)
- Hire a tricycle going to the Shrine.
- Entrance Fee (Including museum): ₱20
- Parking Fee (Small vehicles): ₱20
- Parking Fee (Large Vehicles): ₱30
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/mtsamatnationalshrine/
- If you’re visiting Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, you can make Mt. Samat National Shrine your side trip before going back to Manila.
- The shrine is open from 8:00 AM To 5:00 PM, Monday to Sunday.
- When traveling in a rainy season, make sure to drive carefully as the road going to the top is full of zigzags and big curves.
- Make sure to protect yourself from the heat of the sun. Bring water, cap/hats, and umbrellas.
- There are food stalls and souvenir shops at the base of the cross in case you need some refreshments and souvenirs.
- Comfort rooms are also available.
- There is a road leading to the base of the cross. Proceed there if you want to avoid walking the concrete pathway from the shrine to the cross.
- The entrance fee includes the entrance to the museum.
- Respect the place. Don’t vandal and do anything that can disgrace the place.