Mount Samat: The Shrine of Valour (Part 1)

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Mortars kept on shelling. Guns were blazing. Bombs continuously dropping. Howls were drowned. And then there was ceasefire. The fight was no more. But the bigger and worse torment have only just begun.Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar Bataan

Tales of gallantry and ultimate sacrifices during the Second World War have defined Mount Samat.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanEfforts to defend this stronghold became futile when superior personnel, weaponry, strategy, and logistics by the enemy overwhelmed the battered, fatigued, worn out USAFFE side.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanOn April 14, 1966, President Ferdinand E. Marcos laid the cornerstone for a World War II memorial at Mount Samat. According to some accounts, Lieutenant Ferdinand E. Marcos of the 21st Division was one of those who fought in the Battle of Bataan.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanThe Mount Samat National Shrine‘s most distinguishable structure is the imposing Memorial Cross. The towering cross is built at the peak of Mount Samat. It has a height of 301 feet (92 meters).

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanThe Memorial Cross is adorned with bas reliefs of national heroes such as Dr. José P. Rizal, Lapu Lapu, Gabriela Silang, Andres Bonifacio, General Emilio Aguinaldo, General Antonio Luna, General Gregorio del Pilar, Melchora Aquino, Marcela de Agoncillo, and Emilio Jacinto. Other key events in Philippine history were depicted like: the executions of the GomBurZa and of Rizal, the first parachute landing by the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division, the Battle of Bataan, and more.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanNational Artist Napoleon Abueva was commissioned to design the bas reliefs which are collectively known as Nabiag Nga Bato, Ilocano for living stone. President Marcos was an Ilocano.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanAt the Cross’ arms is a viewing deck. An elevator and a staircase lead to the view deck where a commanding view of Bataan Peninsula and the Manila Bay can be seen.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanOn April 28, 1998, the Memorial Cross undergone rehabilitation under the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos.

Memorial Cross, Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mount Samat National Shrine in Pilar BataanToday, the Mount Samat National Shrine may have been obscured by other tourist destinations but its significance never ceases to be obliterated. It will and should remain an enduring symbol of gallantry of Filipinos and Americans who fought for freedom. It is a legacy that should never be disregarded even through the passing of time.

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