And so we did hike Mt. Samat that same day.
Though dwarfed by the giant Mts. Mariveles and Natib, Mt. Samat is biggest when it comes to our WW2 history. So before I start narrating our climb/run/walk or whatever you guys want to call it, let me tell you first the story of gallantry and valor that Filipino and American soldiers exhibited in this mountain at the dawn of WW2 in the Philippines.
When the heat of World War 2 finally reached the Pacific in 1941, some of the biggest battles were staged in the Philippines. And among these was the famous Battle of Bataan.
This major battle, fought by the invading Japanese Imperial army and the Allied forces of the US and Filipino soldiers in the Bataan Peninsula, took four months. It was valiant but futile fighting.
The final days of the battle took place in Mt. Samat when the defending Allied forces retreated into the mountain. The Japanese army under the command of General Homma then launched a systematic bombardment on Mt. Samat. Day and night, Mt. Samat received heavy bombings from above and ground, turning the mountain into an inferno. Eventually, the tired, sick and wounded Filipino and American soldiers hiding in Mt. Samat surrendered into the hands of the invaders. The date was April 9, 1942, known in history as the Fall of Bataan. Consequently, the surviving soldiers we're forced to march from Bagac, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac, the event we now know as the Bataan Death March.A sad story of how Bataan and the whole country has fallen into the hands of the Japanese, but at the same time, inspiring. My highest respect to our WW2 heroes.
After the war, a shrine (Dambana ng Kagitingan) was erected at the summit of Mt. Samat to commemorate those Filipino and American soldiers who fought valiantly during the World War 2. And that date that Bataan has fallen is now being celebrated as the Day of Valor (a National Holiday).
Sunday - August 11, 2013
Reaching Mt. Samat is actually easier than what I first thought. From Mariveles, we rode a bus bound for Balanga and asked the conductor to drop us in Pilar intersection.
|The bus dropped us here in KM 23.|
Don't be surprised to see markers like this when in Bataan. These are the kilometer markers of the 128 Km long Bataan Death March that happened after the Fall of Bataan.
|Starting line of our 6km march to Shrine of Valor.|
|I chose to run the length of the concrete road up to the Shrine of Valor. It's mostly uphill and zigzagging, kaya medyo challenging.|
|just 1 KM more!|
Dambana ng Kagitingan
The Shrine of Valor or Dambana ng Kagitingan is a complex of monuments, sculptures, museum and a marble colonnade, all are dedicated to the heroes of the bravely fought Battle of Bataan.
|the memorial cross as seen from the gate of the shrine|
|Weather was not so favorable that afternoon. The tall cross was partly obscured by layers of clouds. |
Nevertheless, we still managed to roam around the Dambana ng Kagitingan.
|the marble colonnade of the shrine|
Then after the museum tour, we proceeded next to the memorial cross.
|en route to the memorial cross|
|the memorial cross. Notice the intricate relief statues at the base of the cross, work of the National Artist Napoleon Abueva.|
The cross is actually a tower which can be entered and climbed up to its arms, but there's a minimum P5 fee for the use of the narrow elevator (be warned claustrophobics). The cross is open only until 5PM, so we rushed to it para makapasok pa kami.
|at the arms/view point of the cross. Obviously, we did not see the possibly amazing view from the cross's arms.|
|lucky to have seen Mt. Mariveles from the window of the cross!|
|one group shot at the view deck|
Getting out of the shrine is painless. There were tricycles waiting at the gate so no more walk/run for the tired hikers like us. We traveled by trike back to Mt. Samat's foot, then waited for the bus bound for Balanga City. At Balanga City, the province's capital, we had a quick dinner first before hopping in to our bus back to Manila.
What a fun day with my friends and my special someone.