Driving to Las Casas I saw a massive cross on a mountain top and was so intrigued we made a special stop on the way home. I had no idea what it was or what a powerful experience would happen at Mount Samat National Shrine, also known as Shrine of Valor. It was a very moving experience and my gratitude deepened even more for the countrymen of The Philippines. Being an American whose grandfather served in WWII and now living here, it was more personal than I anticipated.
The memorial shrine was built to honor and remember the gallantry of Filipino and American soldiers who fought during World War II. The shrine specifically focuses on the most horrific and tragic battle between the Japanese in 1942, The Battle of Bataan also known as The Bataan Death March. We did a tour of Corregidor in 2009 and I remember learning about the Bataan Death March and seeing Mount Samat from a distance. My mother and aunt were with us on Corregidor and shared about how their father, my grandfather, had served in The Philippines. Now, to be standing at another piece of the history was very humbling.
The words that stuck with me most from these two tablets are, “Let all who read this take pride in the courage of our race.” I feel such commradery and deep sincere respect for The Filipino people who fought alongside my grandfather. Lastly, “Our mission is to remember.” I hope this sting of death and tragedy will help me personally to always strive for peace.
Around the grounds was actual machinery used in WWII. The stone carved panels told stories of the progression of battles on Mount Samat. It was reminiscent of my recent trip to Washington D.C. and the war memorial panels they have. We were not able to make it to the museum but I would encourage EV everyone to go.
Things to know:
- The Memorial Shrine is a peaceful and reverent place.
- A museum is located on site in a addition to the shrine. Check schedule if interested.
- There were very nice bathrooms on site.
- Once you start driving on the main road for Mount Samat it is only about 20 minutes to the top.
- Allow 45 minutes – 1 hour for this attraction.
- Absolutely must stop at Pilar Zipline after.