In my post about Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, I briefly mentioned Mt. Samat as another point of interest to visit while in Bataan. Well, guess what? I have been there with my family. This is the first time I climbed this mountain in years. The last time I can recall was back in college during those P.E. activities. The other one was when I was just a little boy during Araw ng Kagitingan or Bataan Day celebration. I haven’t had a chance to revisit Mt. Samat since I moved in Metro Manila and started working. I am so happy to be able to go to this place again, much more happy because this time, I’m with my beloved family.
The Historic Mt. Samat (Pilar, Bataan)
Along with the fortified island of Corregidor, Mount Samat was the site of the most vicious battle against the Japanese Imperial Army in 1942 during the Battle of Bataan. Suffering heavy losses against the Japanese all over Luzon, Filipino and American soldiers retreated to Bataan Peninsula to regroup for a last valiant but futile stand. This retreat to Bataan is part of a United States strategy known as War Plan Orange. Bataan fell after three months of fighting when 78,000 exhausted, sick and starving men under Major General Edward King surrendered to the Japanese on 9 April 1942. It is the single largest surrender of U.S. soldiers in history. Together with the Philippine soldiers, they were then led on the Bataan Death March. The scene of their last stronghold is Mount Samat, the site of Dambana ng Kagitingan. The shrine was conceived as a fitting memorial to the heroic struggle and sacrifices of the soldiers who fought and died in that historic bastion of freedom. – Wikipedia
Even though I was born in Sampaloc, Manila, I spent and lived most of my life in Pilar, Bataan. Mt. Samat is a place that I see from a distance every single day. I remember our bedroom window has a good view of the cross and the shrine at the top of this mountain. I even used to check if there’s lights on top of Mt. Samat at night. I am very familiar with this mountain. Despite the closeness, I have been to the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) only a few times. It’s the feeling that the place is just there at the corner of my eyes and that I can visit it any time I want, but never did.
Parang kapag may friend ka or may nakilala kang tao na palagi mo nakikita or nakakasama, tapos ngayong wala na yung tao na yun narealize mo na wala man lang pala kayong picture na magkasama. Tapos you will feel regret na sana man lang kahit sa picture may memory kayo na magkasama. Kasi nga inakala mo na nandyan lang naman sya palagi kaya hindi mo man lang naisipan na magpicture kasama sya. Yung idea na hindi mo nanakawin ang isang bagay na alam mong nandyan lang palagi. Parang ganun kami ng Mt. Samat. Pero ayoko dumating ang araw na magsisi ako na hindi ko man lang nabisita itong lugar na ito hanggat pwede pa.
Enough hugot! I finally had a chance to visit Mt. Samat with my family. This is a rare and special family bonding time for us. If you’re one of my family and you’re reading this, know that I love you so much. It may not show on a day to day basis, but I do. 🙂 Mahal ko kayo.
How to Go to Mt. Samat (Pilar, Bataan)
Since we live in Pilar, Bataan already and we’re just near Mt. Samat, we just rented a jeepney that will take us to the mountain’s peak. Yes, you don’t need to hike to get to the top. You can go there through any private vehicle or rent a van or even a jeepney. Of course, you can always hike your way to it. I did once, and it’s a different experience altogether. Mt. Samat is a beautiful place and you will encounter different views and secret paths and history that you will otherwise not experience if you climb it through vehicle. But we went there to bond and enjoy the shrine and the cross, so a jeepney to the top is beneficial.
If you’re from Metro Manila and you want to go to Mt. Samat, you may take a bus from Cubao, Pasay or Doroteo Jose (Bataan Transit/Genesis bus line) to Balanga City. The fare is around Php 200. Your travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic condition. The buses usually will drop you off the Balanga Central Terminal. From the terminal, you can ride a jeepney going to Cabog-Cabog. If you’re not familiar with the place, please make sure to tell the driver to drop you off at the foot entrance of Mt. Samat or Dambana ng Kagitingan. The fare is around Php 17. Once you’re at the foot of the mountain, find the tricycles that can be rented to take you to the shrine at the top. The fare is Php 200 per head round-trip. Do not pay the driver of the tricycle until you’re back at the foot of the mountain so as to avoid being scammed.
The Mt. Samat shrine and cross is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance fee is Php 20 regular, Php 10 for students and senior citizens, and Php 30 for foreigners and tourists. Parking fee is Php 30 for big vehicles and Php 20 for light vehicles. The fee to enter and go up the cross is Php 10. These are very affordable rates for the maintenance of such a beautiful and historic place.
When we entered the main entrance and paid the fees, our jeepney driver took us straight to the top where the cross is located. Now while this is just fine, I suggest you let your driver drop you off at the front of the shrine at the bottom and then let him park at the top near the cross. You can then start your way from the bottom to the top, where your ride is waiting for you afterwards. But since we’re already at the top, we decided to just start our tour there, take a rest and appreciate the sceneries. Mt. Samat is very beautiful! You have to be there at the top to really appreciate how natural its beauty is. You have an amazing view of Bataan from atop. I am just so proud to be from Bataan knowing that I’ve lived in this paradise.
After eating snacks and having some “kulitan” moments, we then entered the giant cross. This is probably the highlight of the trip because once you’re at the top of the cross, you are in the highest area in the whole of Mt. Samat or perhaps Bataan. There’s a Php 10 fee to use the elevator. Only 6 people are allowed at a time. I remember back then they allow people to use the stairs to go up, but now due to its bad condition, for safety reasons, the stairs are off limits. I just love how when you’re inside the elevator, you have a small peek of what to see outside, and once the elevator door opens at the top…. wow… it’s a 360 degree aerial view of Bataan! It is breathtaking! There are huge windows open on each side where air can freely come in and out. I feel like we’re already in the clouds! A trip to Mt. Samat is worthy just for this experience right here at the top of the cross.
If you’re hungry and you didn’t bring any food with you, there’s a sari-sari store just at the back of the cross. The prices are a bit high than normal, but that’s to be expected. After enjoying our moment at the top of the cross, we then went down to the shrine. There’s a pathway that will lead you down. Once again, you will have a good view of the mountain and the surrounding areas. There’s a lot of trees that provide shade while walking down.
We then reached the shrine. Its walls provide a good history of Bataan and the Death March. Please take some time to read it so you will appreciate more the events that transpired in Mt. Samat and Bataan, and why it’s so important in Philippines’ history. The marble floor and walls, plus the huge chandeliers that adorn the ceiling are beautiful.
We then went to the museum located below the shrine. Make sure you keep the ticket that they gave you at the entrance earlier because they will look for it when you enter the museum. The museum is a good place to learn more about the history of Bataan. Taking pictures is allowed as long as you don’t use flash. I personally enjoyed the pictures during World War II. It makes me feel happy to be born in this generation and thankful to the brave men and women who fought hard to be where I am right now.
We left Mt. Samat not only bonded as a family, but also bonded to our hometown. I wish to have more experience like this in future shred with my family. 🙂
Check out more pictures I took during our bonding moment in Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan. If you have questions about Mt. Samat or other places in Bataan, feel free to comment and I will respond the best way I could. 🙂