There are many things to see and places to check out when you move to or visit Bataan, Philippines. Of all these places, Bataan is most famous for Mt. Samat. These are due to a couple of reasons.
One, Mt. Samat offers a scenic view of Bataan from the top. It’s a great place to visit, and nature lovers will surely fall in love with the place.
And two, it played a huge role in the history of the Philippines, and it has the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), a 92-meter cross erected at 555 meters above sea level. This cross was built to celebrate the bravery of all the soldiers (Filipinos, Japanese and Americans) who fought in the Philippines during World War II.
Mount Samat is a few minutes away from Balanga City, Bataan. You can reach it via the local jeepney (traveling from Balanga City thru the Bagac-Morong Bataan beach resorts highway and back), or with a private vehicle (click here for Google map).
If you ride the jeepney, you’ll alight at the foot of Mt. Samat, and there are two ways to climb to the top: take a tricycle or walk. The way to the top is long, and tricycles charge P100 per person, per way ($2.40 May2011).
Afterwards, you can ask the driver to wait for you or take a chance to find a tricycle going down. Some drivers told us they can be contacted through SMS for pick up – the rate usually ranges from P50 to P100 per person ($1.20 to $2.40 May2011), depending on your negotiations.
If you plan to walk, on the other hand, be sure that you’re fit and equipped with sufficient stamina, as the climb can take approximately two hours per way. Some joggers brave this and climb to the top as a form of exercise.
Along the way to the top, there’s a mini park with concrete tables and chairs, perfect for a picnic (bring your food, though, as there are no stores in the park). When we passed by the park the last time we were there, a mass was being held and there were a few attendees.
(Note by AdoboRepublic: The park mentioned above is nice getaway when you’re living in Balanga city in Bataan. Because of its proximity to the main city, I often have breakfast or lunch there. It is so relaxing and the scenery is breathtaking, not to mention the clean surrounding air.)
The entrance fee is very cheap: P30 for foreigners, P20 for locals, and P10 for students ($0.72, $0.46 and $0.24 respectively May2011).
There’s also a parking fee ranging from P20 to P50 ($0.46 to $1.20 May2011), depending on the type of vehicle that you bring with you.
Upon reaching the top, you’ll see the Shrine of Valor looming, a wonderful sight especially on a sunny day.
The fee is P10 ($0.24), but don’t be surprised if you would find a long line of people waiting to climb – this is very popular and the viewing deck is a must-see among all visitors.
Near the elevators are sculptures of Filipino soldiers fighting and holding their weapons, preserving the memories of the age past.
Aside from the cross, another popular place in Mount Samat is its museum. You just have to show your ticket to the security guard (the one given to you at the entrance) to gain entry into the museum. Inside, you’ll see a miniature mapping of Bataan, plus lots of photos of the death march.
There are also old guns and bayonets, home-made pistols, bazookas, machine guns, and an antique radio. There are also photos of the generals who served in the war, a photo of former president Manuel L. Quezon and his family, and the wife of Gen. Douglas McArthur.
The place is also great for picnics, and there are stores in which you can buy food. There are also souvenir stores that sell t-shirts, key chains, hats, and gloves.
When we went there last time, we met a tour guide named Bong Mamuad. He offers a tour of Mt. Samat – either a walking tour or one with lectures for groups of visitors. Rate is P300-P500 ($7.15-$11.90 May2011). Contact number is (63-907) 219-3887.
Mt. Samat is open to visitors up to 5 in the afternoon, although it can extend when there are special occasions. If you’re visiting or living in Bataan, Philippines – this is a place you shouldn’t miss.
(Special mention of thanks to Nayzs’ friend Precy for the photos included here and at the cheap hotels in Balanga city article.)