A hero is not someone who has no fear, but rather, someone who in spite of fear, fought to protect his ideals for the greater good.
Before the end of my 2-month stay in Bataan, I was able to visit one of the famous tourist attractions of the province, the Shrine of Valor or Dambana ng Kagitingan on Mt. Samat. This shrine is devoted for the commemoration of the gallantry or heroism of Filipino soldiers , as well as American soldiers, who fought during World War 2. Its construction was completed in 1970 and inaugurated by the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
On the way up, you can observe that the area is well maintained; the forest area along the trail is still thick, and no garbage of any kind. Since we went there late in the afternoon, we didn’t have the luxury of time to walk, hence, we decided to ride a tricycle, which took us to and from the shrine. In just few minutes, we already reached the shrine compound, which is incredibly vast. The shrine is within an estimated area of 73, 665 hectares (Provincial Government of Bataan).
After registration, we went straight to the colonnade, an edifice covered in marble with a museum beneath an esplanade and an altar. Various historical symbols can be found within the colonnade including Stained Glass Mural behind the altar, 19 Scriptural Marble at the Parapet, 18 Bronze Insignias of USAFFE Division Units, 2, Bronze Urns (symbolic of the Eternal flame), 18 Flag poles with colors of USAFFE Divisions/Units, Inscriptions of the “Battle of Bataan” (Provincial Government of Bataan). Then, several different war memorabilia are kept within the museum, such as weapons, photos, and a 3-d map of the province of Bataan.
The main attraction of the Shrine of Valor is located on the summit of Mt. Samat or about 553 MASL (Pinoy Mountaineer), the gigantic memorial cross. The memorial cross has a towering height of 92 meters from the base, with the viewing deck at an approximately 74 meters from the base (Provincial Government of Bataan). To reach the cross, you just have to take the concrete stairs located at the back of the colonnade, or you can take the road going to the summit aboard a private vehicle. Once you are there, you can go to the viewing deck by using the elevator. Just a warning though, the elevator is really small. Once 5 people (including the operator are already inside) are already inside, you will be like a fish inside a can. But you really don’t have to worry about that since in less than a minute, you are already at the viewing deck, which are basically the arms of the cross. Here, you can have a great view of Mt. Mariveles and Mt. Natib.
After visiting the memorial cross, we went to the museum, where we spent just about 20 minutes. Based on our experience, you only need around 2 hours to enjoy the area, especially when there are only few visitors. Therefore, if you want to maximize your time there, I suggest that you also visit other tourist attractions around the province such as the Pawikan Conservation Center and the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. You could also visit the community of our Aeta brothers and sisters in Morong.
When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.
For your information (FYI):
Presently, the shrine also serves as the venue of the annual celebration of the Day of Valor or Araw ng Kagitingan, which is held every 9th of April.
- Shrine of Valor is open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday.
- There are many bus transit lines that have Balanga-bound trips, one of which is Bataan Transit. The earliest trip of Bataan transit going to Balanga is 1am, while its last trip is 11pm, with 15 minutes interval between each trip.
- Souvenir shops and foods stalls are available near the foot of the giant cross.
- If you have enough time to spare, I suggest that you just walk from the jump-off area upto the Shrine of Valor. The trail is really nice; although it is paved already, the vegetation is really thick, providing the trail a very great shade.
- You may contact the tourism office of Bataan for inquiries through:
- Tel. No. :(047) 237-4785 / (047) 237-4476
- Fax No. : (047) 237-4785
- Email : firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
I would like to thank my friends Tawechote and Kuya Edward for accompanying me on this trip.
|Route||Mode of Transportation||Estimated Travel Time|
|Cubao Bus Station to Balanga Bus Station*||Bus (Balanga Bound)||3 hours|
|Balanga to Jump-off Area (Brgy Diwa)**||Jeep ( Balanga Bound)||30 minutes|
|Jump-off Area to registration area||Tricycle or Foot||20 minutes/ 1.5 hours|
|registration area to summit (Giant Cross)||Foot||15 minutes|
|**with signages about Mt. Samat/ Shrine of Valor|
|Estimated Budget (in Philippine Peso)|
|Cubao Bus Station to Balanga Bus Station*||200|
|Balanga to Jump-off Area (Brgy Diwa)**||20|
|Jump-off Area to registration area||100|
|Light/ small vehicles||20|
|Elevator Fee (Giant Cross)||10|
Here are some photos of our trip: