Mt Samat National Shrine (Dambana ng Kagitingan)

April 26, 2015

The Dambana ng Kagitingan was not really included in our itinerary when we had our vacation in the Philippines last year.  However, while we were on our way to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, this huge white cross standing proud on the summit of Mount Samat really caught our attention.  We were still too early then to check-in in Las Casas so we decided to drive all the way up the top of Mount Samat to discover what such gigantic cross is doing there.

The journey to reach the white cross had been scary for me.  Maybe because I have this fear of heights.  The zigzag road to the top and the constant need to step on the accelerator for gas made my heart beat hard and fast and I was like praying all those times for us to be able to get through this adventure alive.  This cross must really be effective on of making people closer to God because it will definitely leave you praying for your safety.

After a few minutes, which for me seemed like forever, we finally reached the top and discovered that it was actually a historical shrine dedicated to the brave soldiers who fought for freedom and died in the battle of Bataan during the World Ward II.  The shrine was built from 1966 to 1970 and was commissioned by the former president Ferdinand Marcos.  By the way, we paid Php 20.00 each as an entrance fee to the shrine and Php 30.00 for the parking.

The historical shrine consists primarily of a colonnade and a huge white memorial cross.  The Colonnade is made of marble where you can find several bronze chandelier hanging on its ceiling, an altar, and a stained glass mural on the background.  The shrine complex also has a war museum where you can find a collection of several paintings and military weapons and equipments used during the second World War.  However, photography is strictly prohibited inside the museum so I don't have a photo to share.

On the other hand, the Memorial Cross is a concrete structure standing 92 meters in height with a viewing gallery (on the arms of the cross) where you can see a great view of Bataan, Corregidor and Manila.  You would need to take a lift (Php 10.00 fee) which was too small and too narrow it would make you feel like you're inside a can of sardines.  Riding that elevator made me realize for the first time that I'm a little claustrophobic too.  I was having a bit of hard time breathing and I found myself praying again for our safety.  You might think I'm going crazy but really, that lift looks too old or should I say "ancient" it seems like it can malfunction anytime.  Thank goodness we were able to get out of that lift alive!  I survived!  Lol.

Looking at the base of the cross, you would find several sculptures showing several historical events and significant battles made by no less than the National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva.

Overall, our journey to discover the Dambana ng Kagitingan scared the hell out of me.  This place is perfectly beautiful, peaceful, and serene but definitely not recommended for acrophobic and claustrophobic people like me.  If you're neither afraid of heights nor afraid of closed spaces, you would perhaps enjoy this place and find the view on top of Mount Samat priceless!

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