The Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) is observed in the Philippines as national holiday to commemorate the Fall of Bataan when thousands of Filipino and American soldiers surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II after three months of bloody struggle to defend the Philippines against the invading Japanese forces. Every June 9, commemoration ceremonies are held at the Mount Samat National Shrine (also called Dambana ng Kagitingan) in Bataan, a memorial shrine built in honor of the heroism and valor of the Filipino and American soldiers who fought side by side against the Japanese.
|stairs leading to the Colonnade|
The shrine consists of the Colonnade and the Memorial Cross. The Colonnade is the covered with marbles and houses an altar with three religious stained glass murals, and a museum containing a collection of World War II photographs, uniforms and weapons. Around the Colonnade is an esplanade also covered with marble tiles. In front of the altar stands a flagpole that holds a Philippine flag.
|the altar with three religious stained glass murals as background|
|flagpole in front of the altar|
|the esplanade surrounding the Colonnade|
|view of the Colonnade from the footpath|
|footpath covered with bloodstones|
Standing at 92 meters tall, and 555 meters above sea level, the Memorial Cross is made of steel and concrete with a hollow interior housing an elevator that can take visitors to a viewing gallery encased inside the the arms of the cross.
|the Memorial Cross|
|the viewing gallering inside one of the arms of the cross|
Inside the viewing gallery are chairs where visitors can seat while enjoying a 360 degree view of the Bataan Peninsula with the Manila Bay on east side and the West Philippine Sea on the west side. Best time to visit is in the morning when it is cooler and low lying clouds would envelop the summit of the mountain.
|the Colonnade as seen from the viewing gallery of the Memorial Cross|
|fog covering the thick jungle of Mount Samat|
The foot of the Memorial Cross is covered with relief sculptures of Philippine national heroes from the different colonial eras of the country. The structure was built in 1970 and its maintenance is funded by both the national and provincial governments.
The Mount Samat National Shrine has become the main tourist attraction of the province of Bataan. Several schools have included the shrine as one of the stops for their annual field trips, giving their students better appreciation of the sacrifices made by our World War II heroes who gave up their lives for the freedom of our country. Weekend travelers from Manila and nearby provinces also visit the shrine so that they too can be reminded of the prestige and honor given those who demonstrated the ultimate form of nationalism and love for democracy.
|road leading to Mount Samat National Shrine|
How to get to Mount Samat National Shrine
By public transportation, one can commute from Manila to Bataan by taking a bus bound to Balanga City via Bataan Transit or Genesis Bus (P200.00). Travel time from Manila to Balanga is between 2-2.5 hours. From the Balanga central terminal, take a jeepney bound to Cabog-Cabog and tell the driver to drop you off at Mt. Samat (P17.00). You can then hire a tricycle parked at the corner of the road leading to the shrine. Rate is P100.00 per person per way (P200.00 per person for round-trip).
By private vehicle, you can take the NLEX and exit at San Fernando, Pampanga. Drive westward along Jose Abad Santos Avenue towards the direction of Dinalupihan. Alternatively, you can take the SCTEX and drive towards Subic and take the Dinalupihan Exit. From Dinalupihan, take the Ramon Superhighway and drive until you reach Mount Samat Junction. Turn right and just follow the directions on the road. A few meters after the KM19 Death March marker, on the left side of the road, turn left to the access road leading to the shrine. Landmark is a Burger Machine stand at the corner. Just follow the access road until you reach the gate to the shrine.
Reminders to visitors:
1. Entrance fee to the shrine is P20.00 person
2. Parking fee is P20.00 for small vehicles, and P30.00 for large vehicles.
3. Entrance fee gives visitors access to the museum as well.
4. Elevator fee of P10.00 per person is charged if you wish to go to the viewing gallery.
5. The shrine is open everyday from 8:00am to 5:00pm
6. After your visit to the shrine, you might want to have your lunch or meryenda at The Beanery in Balanga City.