The historic cross of Mt. Samat in Bataan is a popular destination during the Holy Week. The spiritual theme combined with that patriotic ambiance is a perfect reflection of the Filipino culture and tradition. The 'Dambana ng Kagitingan' (Shrine of Valor) is on my list of places to visit. I was lucky enough to visit this shrine twice in two months and believe me, wanting to visit this place again will never grow old.

It was a long drive to reach the shrine. The place was secluded that only the sight of the cross from afar was our only guide to how near we were. But you will never get bored traveling since the view of that mountain becomes nearer as the iconic cross looked small at a distance. I can feel the excitement as our ride reached the entrance of the mountain. Driving all the way to the top was like riding a roller coaster. The sharp turns going up the mountain only gets steeper the more we climbed the top.

You can park your car at the main entrance of the Shrine and walk up the remaining steep turns to the top or if you are brave enough, you can drive to the top. But I suggest you walk the last few (I would not say a few since it still is pretty far from the shrine) kilometers going to the top so you can enjoy the view while walking the road. As I climbed that top, the cross gets bigger and the view below gets more amazing.

Almost there. Picture taken at a resting spot.

The view only gets better as you climb higher
But that long climb to the top was worth it when we reached the shrine. The cross stood in the middle of the shrine which towered to the sky. The cross was overwhelming in size. The place was peaceful, clean and serene. The cool mountain air made the place comfortable besides the hot climate. Just the presence of the place brings you back to that time when the Filipino and American soldiers suffered in the hands of the Japanese. It was a marriage of religion and culture. A breath-taking realization as I circled the foot of the cross where images of war heroes encircled the cross; a constant reminder why the shrine was built.

Images of war heroes immortalized on the concrete walls of Dambana ng Kagitingan

If you think standing at the foot of the cross was an amazing sight, wait until you reach the top of the cross where the viewing decks on both arms were located. An elevator inside the foot of the cross can take you the fastest way to the viewing decks. The small elevator can only accommodate up to  9 people at a time so the queue can be long if you decide to visit on the weekends. That short elevator trip brings you to the viewing decks where a more amazing view awaits you. 

The two viewing rooms are both arms of the cross. The white spacious rooms are surrounded with windows that let the cool breeze rush inside. Chairs are placed to enjoy viewing the almost 360 degree birds eye view below. It is the perfect spot to pray, meditate, or enjoy the serene environment. 

A circular glass window at the end of the viewing room gives a good view of the scene below

Chairs are positioned facing the glass windows for better viewing

The amazing view on top is really worth the long climb. I got to experience the feeling of being on top, with the wind on my face, having a good time with my friends and enjoying the moment that can be only experienced at Mt. Samat.But one thing that I forgot to do during my two visits is to check out the museum. I guess I was too preoccupied to get to the cross that the museum completely left my mind. Oh well, it gives me a reason to go there again.  I will be definitely coming back again.

*My traveling tips:
-Entrance to the site upon arrival is 30php per head. I think there is discount on students and senior citizen. The ticket they will be giving is your entrance pass to the musuem.
-You need to pay extra 10php per head if you will be going up the elevator to the viewing decks.
-Bring umbrella if you decide to walk the last turns going up the mountain, especially in the summer.
-The shrine is open until 5pm so go early if you want all the time to enjoy the place.
-Refreshments are sold in stalls near the foot of the cross.

No comments: