Dambana ng Kagitingan (Mount Samat Shrine), Pilar, Bataan

I didn't quite know how to go about with this post at first. My thoughts when I was taking photos: appreciate art, nature, the good weather, most especially the moment and stepping my foot on an icon of history where I became more proud being a Filipino. And so it came to me, history as it is, shall be shared to repeatedly pay respect and be proud of the heroes that sacrificed their lives in order to free us from Imperial Japanese invasion in the 1945 Battle of Bataan.

Guys, I'm eternally proud to present to you our Shrine of Valor, more commonly known as "Dambana ng Kagitingan" or could also be referred to as "Mount Samat Shrine" to locals.

It was a cold drizzly afternoon after our Las Casas tour. From Bagac, rode a jeepney to the Philippine Japanese Friendship tower. Beside it was a terminal and from there, we waited for other passengers heading the same direction towards Diwa intersection. We then hired a tricycle to take us up to Mount Samat for P100.00 back and forth trip. You can hike your way up if you have time, but I must warn you, it is steep, but nevertheless well paved. Trikes are advisable if experiencing bad weather if on commuter mode.

Dambana ng Kagitingan is yet another place and occurrence in Philippine history I've only read about in books. Now, I got to see it in the flesh! I bet history buffs can sympathize how I feel about this.

From a tourist's point of view, not only does it honor and commemorate the courage in battle of Filipino and American soldiers who dearly fought for us during the World War II, it also serves as a fun way to learn about other significant Filipino History through the works of art of some of our esteemed National Artists.

I guess, from an artist, a history buff or a travelers eyes, this place has a a deeper, spiritual connection. By merely being here where history took place, it gives us bliss. I can't even explain it. The nearest I can think of right now is that it's like a new toy for a kid, only you can't take it home. You just look at it, leave it in its box to not damage its authenticity.  
Anyways, that colorful backdrop is actually a stained glass mural designed by National Artist Cenon Rivera. These three panel glass signifies "The Supreme Sacrifice", "The Call to Arms" and "Peace", which were executed by Vetrate D' Guiliani of Rome, Italy.
The colonnade with its marble finish, altar, slightly coffered ceiling, blue chandeliers and stained glass mural.
Sitting beside one of two bronze urns symbolizing eternal flame
The design of the complex was designed by Lorenzo del Castillo together with Napoleon Abueva (designing the sculptures), an artist originating from the island of Bohol. Its beautiful landscape was designed Dolly Quimbo Perez.
The door of the Museum. 
We did manage to get inside the museum. Taking photos was prohibited but you can linger as long as you like. You can see there a lot of violent materials such as canons, guns, battle gears, even photos of women, soldiers - Filipino and Americans who died in the honor of saving our land.
Moving on, these marble sculptures at the parapet of the colonnade depict different scenes of the last stand of Bataan until their surrender that is known as Death March.
Remembering Death March:
It was an abusive and murderous 182km walk from Mariveles, Bataan, to San Fernando, Pampanga. From there, the remaining survivors were loaded into a box and brought to Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. From the towering number of 60,000-80,000 after-war Filipino and American prisoners, about 2,500-10,000 Filipino and 100-650 American prisoners died before they reached their final destination. It is the largest number of surrender of Filipino and American Soldiers military history. 
As Cey was standing by the base of the cross, I called her out and counted to three without any proper advice of taking a shot. This is the 11-meter base of the cross with historical art through sculptural slabs and relief disigned by Napoleon Abueva, which tells the story of the execution our National Hero Jose Rizal. Other heroes' story whose greatness were given credit were Lapu-Lapu and Antonio Luna.
Standing at the base of the 92-meter cross with its 34-meter arms, Manong guard did good!
Say hi to Lapu-Lapu in the background! ;)
see how foggy the day went...'twas wee bit cold
yep, I D-I-Yed that necklace :)
From the elevator, my first sight was this.
Where everyone took photos in. There were two round windows at the end of each arm.
Say Hi to Cey, my very first travel buddy :)
Awesome view!
Looking down, I tried imagined how they managed to fight in these terrains. Some are sharp and heavily covered in vegetation. How was it in cold, rainy days? It must have been a real challenge. Fighting the weather, for your life at the same time fighting for your country. How can you back out? No, you don't. This is were the last defense took place.
Back at the bottom, strolled a little as we were looking for the comfort room. Looking back, I saw other insignia and scenes from the Death March and Battle of Bataan.
There, we found it! 
Visitors can buy souvenirs and souvenirs from this store. It's okay to bring your own food, just remember to pick-up after yourselves. You managed to get here, please be responsible to leave your trash in trash bins.
Some information about the Shrine of Valor aka "Dambana ng Kagitingan" as lifted from The official site of Bataan:
- The tower rises 555 meters above sea level
- Height of the cross is 92 meters from base
- The complex lies in an area approximately 73,665 hectares
- completed and inaugurated in 1970
- commissioned by the late President Ferdinand Marcos

How to get here:
Driving you own vehicle:
It takes a 2-hour drive from Manila to Mount Samat. From EDSA, take the North Luzon Expressway (Balintawak) northbound, then SCTEX - exit in Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga. Take the road to Subic and exit to Dinalupihan. Turn right at the end of SCTEx road then follow the signages leading to Mt. Samat. 
Take a bus heading to Balanga, Bataan. Head on to Balanga Terminal, take the jeepneys Bagac bound then ask to be dropped off at the nearest stop to the Shrine.
caption this!

Join me in my next travels guys. See you all soon ;)

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