Bataan is known for its historical sites. One of these is the "Dambana ng Kagitigan" also known as Shrine of Valor on top of Mt. Samat. I've been wanting to visit this place ever since I was a kid seeing it on textbooks and magazines. It is one of the places listed on my bucket list that I've been wanting to visit for the longest time. So when I had the chance to visit the province of Bataan last month, I made sure that I include Mt. Samat on our itinerary.
It was our lucky day when we met Ms. Christina of the Provincial Tourism Office of Bataan. She was introduced to us by the General Manager of The Plaza Hotel where we were staying in Balanga City. And gladly, she offered us a tour of Mt. Samat with the assistance of her staff. That's great! Yippee!!!
From The Plaza Hotel, we drove to Brgy. Diwa in the town of Pilar. It only took us about 20 minutes to reach the foot of Mt. Samat. The road to the summit of Mt. Samat is a bit steep but well-paved. Good thing we brought a van courtesy of the tourism office.
Completed and inaugurated in 1970, the "Dambana ng Kagitingan" or the Shrine of Valor lies in a complex with an area of approximately 73,665 hectares. The main features of the shrine are the Colonnade and the Memorial Cross.
It was mid-afternoon and the sun is up. So I wore my Rayban Shades I bought at a discounted price from glassesonline.com. Does it suit me well? I hope so! Hehehe! Anyway, if you're interested to check out this sunglasses I'm wearing, it's here!
Upon reaching the summit, we proceeded first to the Memorial Cross. Standing high on the summit, the huge cross measures 92 meters high. It is made of marble, steel and reinforced concrete with an elevator and viewing gallery at the arms of the cross.
The exterior of the cross from the base up to an 11-meter level has sculptural bas-reliefs depicting significant battles and historical events made by Napoleon Abueva. Very beautiful!
We then took the elevator to the viewing gallery at the arms of the cross. The gallery measures 30 meters long, 15 meters for each arm. It offers a stunning view of Bataan peninsula, the nearby historic Corregidor Island and the Manila bay. It has windows that can be opened where "very" cold air comes in. There are also chairs where you could sit while enjoying the breathtaking view.
After spending about 20 minutes at the viewing gallery, we decided to go down to explore the colonnade.
The Colonnade is a marble-capped structure with an altar, esplanade and a museum. The altar's backdrop is a beautiful stained glass mural. Also in the colonnade are Bronze Insignias of USAFFE Division Units, Scriptural Marble at the Parapet, Bronze Urns (symbolic of the Eternal flame), Flag poles with colors of USAFFE Divisions/Units and Inscriptions of the "Battle of Bataan."
This is where we spent more than 30 minutes to take photos and to see the museum.
SOME USEFUL INFORMATION
- The Shrine is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
- Entrance fee at Mount Samat is 20.00 pesos/person with discount for students and senior citizens.
- Parking fee is 30.00 pesos for big vehicles and 20.00 pesos for small vehicles.
- Elevator fee to the viewing gallery of the cross is 10 pesos/person. Operates from 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM daily.
- There are sari-sari stores and souvenir shops at the shrine where you could buy some snacks, drinks and souvenirs.
HOW TO GET TO MT. SAMAT
From Manila, take a bus bound for Balanga, Bataan via Bataan Transit or Genesis Bus Lines. Travel time is about 3 hours and fare is 200 pesos. Upon reaching Balanga City Central Terminal, take jeepney bound for Cabog-Cabog and go down at the intersection to Mount Samat at Diwa, Pilar, Bataan. Travel time is about 20 minutes and fare is around 17.00 pesos. From there, you may either hike to the top of Mt. Samat or hire a tricycle parked at the corner of the road leading to the shrine. Fare is about 100.00 pesos per person/way.
If you're traveling on a big group, you may ask for the assistance of the Provincial Tourism Office of Bataan for them to assist you with the transportation. You may contact them at: (047) 237-4785 / 237-4476. Or you may also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHERE TO STAY IN BATAAN
- The Plaza Hotel - Balanga, "Classy and Stylish Hotel in Balanga City"
Special thank you to Ms. Christina Banzon, Bataan Provincial Tourism Officer and her staff for bringing us to Mt. Samat.
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