Three months ago, my mom and I along with our churchmates went to Bataan for a pilgrimage in observance with the Holy Week. We went there on April 8, just a day before the Araw ng Kagitingan. Prior to the actual pilgrimage, we went to Mt Samat National Shrine or more popularly known as the “Dambana ng Kagitingan” (Shrine of Valor).
President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to attend the 75th anniversary celebration of the Bataan Day and we witnessed all the preparation by the time we arrived in Mt Samat Shrine. The Shrine of Valor was built to honor and remember the gallantry of Filipino and American soldiers who fought during World War II. The place is known for its huge memorial cross which is considered as the second tallest cross in the world. The cross is 302 ft tall with both arms expanding to 90 feet long.
Witnessing the historical Memorial cross in Pilar, Bataan is not actually my first time. I went to Dambana ng Kagitingan a year ago as part of our Bataan tour where we visited the Las Casa Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac. It was my first time to visit the shrine but unfortunately, the weather was not so cooperating that time which prevents us from getting access to the memorial cross. This time however, I finally made it to the foot of the Memorial Cross yet the upper deck of the cross was unfortunately not accessible that time but I guess that gave me another reason to go back!
The Colonade as viewed from the Memorial Cross. Reaching the cross was quite a challenge as you need to pass through the 14-flight, zig-zagging path on the mountain slope! Since I already blogged about the Shrine, allow me to focus on something else. Let’s focus more on the Cross and the war museum that can be found under the colonade!
Here, you can also see a clearer image of the stained-glass mural masterpiece of Cenon Rivera that depicts some religious images. The mural was designed by Rivera and executed by Vetrate D’Arte Giuliani of Rome, Italy
The Memorial Cross! The Cross was actually situated at the highest point of Mount Samat which is 555 meter above sea level. The monument is made of steel and reinforced concrete with a lift and viewing gallery at the Cross’s arms. A staircase also leads to the gallery in the wings. The height of the Cross is 92 m from the base; the height of the arms is 74 m from the base, with each arm measuring 30 m (15 on each side). The viewing gallery is 5.5 m by 27.4 m, with a 2.1 m clearance.
The exterior of the Cross is finished with chipped granolithic marble with notable sculptures etched on its base. This sculptural slabs and relief is entitled Nabiag Na Bato which was created by the National Artist Napoleon Abueva. The sculpture depicts important historical figures and events like the execution of Jose Rizal,Lapu-Lapu and Antonio Luna.
The Mt Samat National Shrine War Museum
Under the Colonade lies a simple yet historical war museum which can be accessed by visitors for free. The museum showcases a huge collection of paintings and photographs of the Philippine heroes and events during the Second world war and also it features a collection of armaments used by the Filipino, American and Japanese forces during the battle.
One of the most interesting highlights of the War museum is the huge diorama of Bataan depicting the events during the Second World War. Those blue led lights indicate the allied forces (Philippines and America) while the red ones are the Japanese Forces.
A collection of photos hang on the wall showcasing the brutal events during the World War II.
The most interesting part of the museum are the wide collection of armaments that were used by he Filipino, American and Japanese troops during the war. Bigger weapons and cannons were displayed outside the Shrine.
Browning Machine Gun
Home made Pistol
Flare pistolHow about this huge bazooka? A collection of Japanese Invasion Money. These banknotes were issued by the Japanese Military Authority, as a replacement for local currency after the conquest of colonies and other states in World War II.
A Japanese Soldier uniform and some documents in relation to world War II
US BP-7 Switchboard
US Manual Generator
A collection of bullets and projectiles
There is also an upper floor but it was not accessible when we get there but as you can see, the walls were also filled by different pictures of Filipino heroes
Things You Should Known About The Mt Samat National Shrine War Museum
►The museum can be accessed for Free! There is no entrance fee indeed but you still have to pay for the Entrance fee of Mt Samat Shrine. It is only Php20 per head
►The Shrine is open everyday from 8am to 5pm and so does the war museum
►Picture taking is allowed but refrain from using flash photography
►Some armaments can be touched for photo opps but not all
►Souvenir shops can be found outside
►Parking Fee can go from Php20-30 depending on the size of the vehicle
How to Get to Mount Samat National Shrine / Dambana ng Kagitingan
►If you are coming from Manila, simply take a transit bus bound to Balanga City (Bataan Transit or Genesis Bus – they have terminals in Cubao and Pasay). It’s going to be a 2 to 3 hours ride.
►From the Central Terminal of Balanga, take a jeepney bound to Cabog-Cabog and tell the driver to drop you off at Mt. Samat.
►From the drop off point, charter a trike that will take you to the actual site.
Where To Stay in Bataan?
There are many cheap and affordable hotels to stay in Bataan which are near to Mt Samat Shrine or other nearby tourist Destination. The Plaza Hotel in Balanga is a perfect choice or if you are looking for a luxurious staycation, you might consider booking rooms in Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac. You can check out list of affordable and cheap hotels in Bataan in TravelBook and see which rooms suits your budget and taste!