A post-Christmas, pre-New Year getaway to Bataan is the perfect way to end the year, especially this year since it’s also my mum and dad’s silver anniversary!
Bataan is about an one hour and a half drive from Pampanga and roughly three from Manila depending on traffic (as you know, traffic these days is unpredictable). Bataan is a great place to explore for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of manila, explore and have a good time!
Mt. Samat National Shrine (also known as Dambana ng Kagitingan) is a historical monument located in the town of Pilár, Bataan. It was built in 1970 to honor the heroism and valor of the fallen Filipino and American soldiers who fought for freedom during World War II.
For people traveling by private vehicle, from Manila, you can take NLEX and exit at San Fernando, Pampanga. From there, drive westward along Jose Abad Santos Ave. towards Dinalupihan. Likewise, you can also take SCTEX and drive towards Subic and exit at Dinalupihan.Upon reaching Dinalupihan take the Ramon superhighway and drive until you reach the Mt. Samat junction. Once you’ve turn into the junction up tothe Shrine, the curvy uphill roads can look pretty daunting so it’s best to have an experienced driver when you go there.
For people commuting, you can take a bus from Manila to Bataan which is bound for Balanga City either via Bataan Transit or Genesis Bus (P200.00). For those already in Pampanga, you can take the same bus which are usually located at the Robinsons bus terminal or the intersection bus terminals. From the Balanga Central terminal, take a jeep going to Cabog-Cabog and get off at the Mt. Samat junction where you can take a tricycle for P100.00 per person for one way and P200.00 for a round trip.
Once you reach the gate there is an entrance fee of P20.00 per person with additional P20.00 for small cars and P30.00 for larger vehicles. For those unable to climb up the mountain or are just feeling a little lazy, you can keep driving up the hill to the top of the mountain where there is also a parking lot.
While making your way up to the memorial cross, don’t forget to take in the scenery. It can be pretty high up for those who are afraid of heights but the view is spectacular to say the least.
At 555 meters above sea level, standing at 92 m, the Mt. Samat Memorial Cross is a beautiful sight. The base of the cross is made of chipped granolithic marble sculpted with figures from Abueva’s Nabiag Na Bato, which depicts the important historical figures and events like the execution of Jose Rizal, Lapu-Lapu and Antonio Luna.
As soon as we reached the summit we lined up for the lift to go up to the observation room inside the cross. Do not, I repeat, do not go up the lift you are claustrophobic. The elevator works fine but it’s small and tight and pretty shabby to be honest. They fit nine people plus a staff member in one small space, I just cannot imagine what would happen if it suddenly stopped working! There are stairs weren’t open to the public according to the guard on duty. The lift takes only a few minutes and once you reach the top you’ll forget all about it because the view is just amazing!!! So much greenery and I love it.
According to the guard you only get 5 minutes to look around but I doubt they’re able to keep track of everyone. I say make the most of the view and take a lot photos!!!
Appreciating the view, taking it all in.
After the memorial cross view deck we made our way down the mountain to the Colonnade. And I must say this place is very well maintained, no trash to be seen, beautiful landscaping.
There is also a free gallery underneath the Colonnade (note: they do close for lunch break).
Other tips for visiting Mt. Samat:
- Bring water and food!
- Wear a hat or bring an umbrella, the heat can be pretty intense especially during summer days
- Watch out for areas that are not to be crossed
Mt. Samat is a nice place for a quick escape, bring your friends and your family, enjoy the scenery and appreciate the history this place has to offer.