Gala: The family goes to the Shrine of Valor

August 8, 2015

The last time my family traveled together was during our Cebu trip last June. Looking back, it’s been two months since, but finally we had an available weekend to spare and we got our butts into our cute family car and headed to Mt. Samat in Bataan!

Mt. Samat is an important historical place in our country and on the summit is the Shrine of Valor or Dambana ng Kagitingan, a monument dedicated to the fallen Filipino and American soldiers during World War II.

Leaving early, we took a long drive through NLEX and SCTEX. We reached the city of Balanga, Bataan before lunch time. From the city, we can already see the giant cross on top of the mountain. That was how big it was. We ate at Jollibee where there were a couple of cute employees and when full, we continued the final drive to Pilar, Bataan, the actual location of Mt. Samat.

Mt. Arayat in the distance with other cute hills and mountains.
Mt. Arayat in the distance with other cute hills and mountains

Lots of signs point to the mountain, an indication of how popular the destination is. It would be hard to get lost, and if you do, the people are friendly enough to offer directions.

The ascent was through a winding road and even our car had some difficulty maneuvering it. Along the way, we saw some bikers climbing and it made me miss my bikes at home. I was already contemplating pedaling to Bataan from Manila. Maybe someday.

Finally reaching the shrine, we parked our car and swallowed the whole view. From high up, I can already see Mt. Mariveles, a mountain that’s already on my to-climb list. Seeing it so near made it look more majestic.

My mother on the shrine's facade.
My mother on the shrine’s facade
The Philippine flag
The Philippine flag
One of the two urns on the facade

From the shrine, the cross already gigantic. We took a few more photos and started the climb up to the base of the cross.

The way up from the facade to the cross.
My mom on the way up from the facade to the cross
So near.
So near

Up close, the cross was amazing. On the base were carved murals depicting different scenes from World War II and in Philippine history.

The carvings on the base of the cross.
The carvings on the base of the cross


There were lots of people waiting for the elevator ride up to the arms of the cross which also served as a viewdeck. When it was our turn to ride, the elevator ascended up to 30 stories in the air. We got off the elevator and marveled at the view. It’s too bad the windows weren’t that big, but the cool air was so inviting that I didn’t really care. The view of Manila bay on one side and the Mariveles mountain range on the other was just amazing.

The viewing deck inside the cross'arms.
The viewing deck inside the cross’arms.
Manila bay along the horizon.
Manila bay along the horizon, blending perfectly into the sky
Mariveles mountain range looking beautiful
The Mariveles mountain range looking beautiful

My family and I took a few more pictures and just spent more time looking at the great scenery around us.

The facade from way up.
The facade from way up
The family on the cross' viewing windows.
The family on the cross’ viewing windows

After that, we descended on the elevator and enjoyed some more of the cold mountain air before finally ending our Mt. Samat trip.

On our way home, we entered Balanga City and had some mirienda at The Beanery,  a little cafe with delicious food and beverage concoctions. After that, it was more driving back to Manila.

Itinerary and cost breakdown:

By private car:

  • 06:15 ETD Pasig City
  • 06:50 Mindanao Toll Gate
    • P45 Toll Fee
  • 07:45 Dau Toll Plaza
    • P173 Toll Fee
  • 08:32 Dinalupihan Exit
    • P132 Toll Fee
  • 08:58 ETA Jollibee Balanga
  • 09:30 ETD Jollibee Balanga
  • 10:00 ETA Mt. Samat
    • P40 Car Parking
    • P30 per head Entrance Fee
  • 11:15 ETD Mt. Samat
  • 12:00 ETA The Beanery
  • 12:30 ETD The Beanery
  • 13:53 NLEX San Fernando
  • 14:50 NLEX Bocaue
    • P157 Toll Fee
  • 15:43 SM North EDSA

Total Cost: P577
Safe Budget: P700 + Gas + Food

By commute:

  • Genesis Bus / Bataan Transit to Balanga Terminal in Bataan
  • Jeep bound for Cabog-Cabog
  • Alight at Mt. Samat Intersection at Diwa, Pilar, Bataan
  • Walk or take a Trike to the top of Mt. Samat

The shrine is open daily from 8am to 5pm

It was a really fun trip and to go with my family is a blessing in itself. My mom was really proud of having climbed a mountain. Maybe someday I can bring them to Mt. Batulao so they can experience the more down-and-dirty kind of mountain-climbing.

A cross so tall, you can't fit in in a picture
A cross so tall, you can’t fit in in a picture



p.s. so how do you take a picture of the whole cross?


That is how you take a picture of the cross. Dedication to the craft.


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