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Monday, April 3, 2017

Bataan: Mt Samat and Dambana ng Kagitingan

When I see a big cross on top of the mountain, it reminds me of Holy Week and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, because the cross reminds us our faith and Christianity. I have some travel in the past that I see shrines in the mountains and that reminds me of my meaningful experiences.  Maybe because Holy Week is just few days away and going to the big cross which involves hiking has significance too.  First, the cross reminds us about Jesus and second, the Araw ng Kagitingan or Araw ng Kagitingan is April 9.

Yesterday has no exemption not to see a big cross especially that Mt. Samat in Bataan was my first getaway for this year.  I've read a lot of blogs about Mt Samat National Shrine and Dambana ng Kagitingan or Shrine of Valor as this gives me insights about the historical significance during the World War 2.  So I won't discuss further about the Dambana ng Kagitingan but I'll just share my experience in going to this historical place.

During the past few days, me and my friend Jake planned to have a getaway and originally we were suppose to go to Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan but unfortunately for some reasons the plan did not push through so we proceeded with our Plan B with some researches about this destination, Mt Samat and Dambana ng Kagitingan.

Jake and I met at Coffee Bean in Gateway as early as 7 a.m. and first we had breakfast at KFC.  From there we walk to Aurora Boulevard until we reached Bataan Transit located in Edsa which is just few walks away from Gateway where buses are available going to Balanga, Bataan which is just approximately a 2-hour ride.

Balanga terminal was the jump off point going to Mt. Samat in the town of Pilar.  It was almost lunch when we arrived Balanga and from there, we decided to have lunch in Mcdonald's

We went to the terminal and ride Cabog-Cabog and along way, you will see a big cross on top of the mountain and this reminds us that we are close at the intersection to Mt. Samat in Diwa, Pilar,

You'll see the ark sign "Dambana ng Kagitingan" when you reach your destination.  At first we are suppose to hike the mountain but in the tricycle terminal, we given an advice that going to the museum is an 8-kilometer walk that will take you around 8 hours to reach the shrine.  So we decided to ride a tricycle as walking is time consuming.

Upon reaching the gate, we paid the entrance fee to the museum that cost 30 pesos per head and we climbed the ladder till we reached the top of Mt. Samat which the big cross is located.  There is a kiosk there where you can buy some snacks and souvenir items. When you're in the shrine, there's a 180 degree view where you can see the seas and the mountains.

We went inside the museum and saw some memorabilia like photos and arms used during the World War 2.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to go up of the museum to see the wall writings as they were painting it in preparation for the Araw ng Kagitingan on April Night.  At the stage, we saw that President Duterte would be the speaker during the celebration and that's why the closed some points because of the preparation for the upcoming event.

At past 2 we decided to go back as the tricycle driver we hired was waiting for us at the gate entrance.

We reached gateway at around 5 p.m. and we decided to to get some coffees at Mcdonald's in Kia Theater (formerly New Frontier Cineme), Araneta Center.

How much does it cost you to go to Mt. Samat-Dambana ng Kagitingan?

Bus - 200 pesos one way.
Tricycle to the terminal is 10 pesos but you have the choice to walk to the terminal which will take around 5-10 minutes.
Cabog Cabog Jeepney ride to Pilar - 19 pesos
Tricycle - 200 pesos 2- way.
Tricycle to drop off going to the terminal is 20 pesos plus tricycle to the terminal is 10 pesos.

Please take note that going back to the terminal in Balanga from Diwa, Pilar will take you quite long to wait for the jeepney ride, so you can take a tricycle and haggle the price.  Normally for 2 people, going to the bus terminal would take around 80 pesos, but we were able to haggle the price to 40 pesos for 2 people because we were 3 in one tricycle.

I hope this helps to those who are planning to go to Mt. Samat and Dambana ng Kagitingan in Bataan.

Sameera Chathuranga

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