Pilar Things to Do

  • looking out of the window on the arm of the cross
    looking out of the window on the arm of...
    by monina_c
  • Mural depicting Sgt. Calugas' defense
    Mural depicting Sgt. Calugas' defense
    by monina_c
  • Tour group listening to WW II stories
    Tour group listening to WW II stories
    by monina_c

Most Recent Things to Do in Pilar

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    Visit the Shrine of Valor in Mt. Samat

    by monina_c Updated Mar 9, 2011
    Tour group listening to WW II stories
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    I think it is a must for every Filipino to go and visit the Shrine of Valor (Dambana ng Kagitingan) atop Mt. Samat! I have been there several times but it still is special! It is not the immensity of the cross nor the climb to it that takes my breath away but the significance of it!

    It makes me proud to know that contrary to the belief of some, my countrymen were the main force in the defense of the Philippines during the Second World War! In consequence, more
    Filipinos were killed during the final defense of Bataan than any other nationalities. During one of the museum lectures, our guide mentioned stories of courage that made the hair on my nape rise. My favorite story so far is the story of how a Filipino soldier on KP duty, ran to man an artillery gun and together with fellow Filipino volunteers defended their position to give the other members of their regiment enough time to find better positions to defend their line... then after the day's fighting he returned to his interrupted KP duty. There is a mural on the outside wall of the colonnade depicting this story. Cool, huh!?

    Along the outside wall of the colonnade are the seal of the different regiments that took part in the defense of Bataan. On the side walls are maps and story of the last stand. When you go down to the museum there are displays of armaments, pictures and 3-D topo map indicating the positions held by the Allies and the Japanese Imperial Army during the crucial days before the surrender.

    The cross itself is 92 meters high (or 32-storeys) with the arms extending 15 meters each. an elevator takes the guests up and you can get a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. Please do not stay too long because there are other people wanting to go up. :)

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  • Mount Samat: A memorial to the brave

    by thescene Updated Nov 29, 2010

    During the Second World War the armed forces of Imperial Japan swept through many areas in the Philippines. The remaining American and Filipino forces were forced to retreat to Mount Samat and the island of Corregidor in the Bataan Peninsula under war Plan Orange as formulated by General Douglas McArthur. After three days of fierce fighting over 70,000 American and Filipino troops surrendered on April 9, 1942. Corregidor Island fell a month later. Then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos who fought during the war constructed the " Dambana ng Kagitingan" or Shrine of Valor, a memorial to those who fought in defense of the Philippines. The most striking feature of this place is a massive cross towering at the peak. Visitors have the opportunity to climb the interior of the cross where you will see the surrounding area. In the main hall you get to see an account of the heroic events of those days. At the basement of the memorial is a small exhibition of photos of the people and events of the event. There is also replicas of some of the weapons and accessories used by both the defending and attacking troops. Mount Samat is a good way for the younger and future generations to remember the sacrifice of their forefathers for their freedom.

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    Go Up To The Arms Of The Cross

    by cyndymc Updated Sep 26, 2009
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    The Memorial Cross has a height of 92 meters from the base, and its arms are set at 74 meters from the base, with a length of 30 meters or 15 meters per side. Inside the arms of the cross is the Viewing Gallery where tourists can (on a fine sunny day) see a panoramic view of Pilar and neighboring towns. My grandson and I were excited to see the view. There was a long line to the elevator, so I had time to examine and take pictures of the the bronze doors of the Memorial Cross base. There were murals on the door also, and the letters DDDD on the left door, and KKKK on the right door. Said letters stand for the initials of Dambana ng Kagitingan (Tagalog meaning of Shrine of Valor).

    Once inside the elevator, all tourists became quiet, as if waiting for the light to turn on, but there was no light. Only natural light from the windows illumined the elevator. It took us 30 windows to reach the Viewing Gallery. My grandson immediately ran to a window and motioned me to join him. Unfortunately, clouds loomed over the top of the cross, so it didn't give us the opportunity to see the much acclaimed view. However, we enjoyed the crisp, cool, refreshing air as we looked down at the Colonnade from the window. Since there was nothing else to do and see up there, we immediately lined up for the elevator service.

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    Have a Picnic With Your Family & Friends

    by cyndymc Written Sep 26, 2009

    On our way down the foot path & stairs from the Memorial Cross, we met some people carrying pots/casseroles and picnic baskets. I asked a woman if they were going to have a picnic, and she said yes, they always have a picnic at the top, under the trees. I admire them for taking all the trouble to go up with their load of food. I guess the quality time spent with loved ones far outweigh their hardship going up.

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    Philippine History Through Sculptural Bas-Reliefs

    by cyndymc Written Sep 26, 2009
    National Artist Napoleon Abueva's Bas-Relief
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    Upon reaching the Memorial Cross, I rested for a while and immediately shot a souvenir picture of my grandson. There was a long queue to the elevator that brought tourists up to the viewing gallery, so I had ample time to appreciate the sculptural bas-reliefs on the base of the cross. National Artist Napoleon Abueva was commisioned to produce said sculptural bas-reliefs depicting important historical events and most significant battles. Just going around the base of the cross and examining each of the bas-reliefs was like having a refresher course on Philippine History. I thought it was going to be a big challenge to explain everything to my grandson, but it turned out, he was the one who gave me the information behind the scenes depicted.

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    Dare Go Up Through The Zigzag Foot Path & Stairs

    by cyndymc Written Sep 26, 2009
    Zigzag Foot Path & Stairs
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    Behind the Colonnade, you'll find the zigzag foot path and stairs. Carved on the steep slope of Mt. Samat, the foot path and stairs involves a climb of 14 flights. Surprisingly, I didn't find the climb very tedious because in between flights of a few steps of the stairs, you'll walk on a foot path where you can slow down and rest, and breath in some fresh air. Besides, there are so many trees surrounding the area, making the climb an enjoyable and refreshing experience.

    Trivia: It is said that the big flat stones laid on the steps and foot path came from Corregidor.

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    Explore The Colonnade

    by cyndymc Written Sep 26, 2009
    Stained Glass Mural Behind Altar
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    As you go up the stairs past the flag pole, you will see the Colonnade. It is an impressive marble-capped structure with an altar, esplanade and museum.

    As you go up the esplanade, you will notice the 18 bronze insignias of the USAFFE with 19 scriptural murals at the parapet. Complementary to these are 18 flag poles with colors of the USAFFE Divisions/Units. Then, just before entering the esplanade, you will note 2 bronze urns on both sides, said to be symbolic of the Eternal Flame. The altar is at the center of the esplanade, with a beautiful stained glass mural behind it. On both sides of the esplanade are the inscriptions of the “Battle of Bataan”. Don't miss to drop by the Museum; entry is at the left side of the esplanade.

    While you can take all the pictures you want of the outdoor architectural features of the colonnade, you may not take pictures once inside the museum. I was disappointed because at Corregidor, we were allowed to take pictures as long as we didn't use flash.

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    Experience History As It Unfolds At The Shrine

    by cyndymc Updated Sep 26, 2009
    My Grandson Reading The Inscriptions On The Wall
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    "Dambana ng Kagitingan" or Shrine of Valor offers you the experience of reliving history. It was the brainchild of then President Ferdinand Marcos who thought it would be befitting to have a memorial erected in Mt. Samat to pay honor and tribute to the gallant and patriotic Filipino and American soldiers of the United States Armed Forces Of The Far East (USAFFE) who fought one of the most vicious battles between USAFFE and the Japanese during World War II. The said battle was the last stand of American and Filipino soldiers who risked life and limbs to slow down Japanese assualt, but as fate would have it, they were subdued by the Japanese Forces.

    Every space in the Shrine was designed to make us remember the sacrifices made by the Filipino soldiers and American comrades. So when you go there, make a conscious effort to check out all the places, all the items on display, and remember history. That way, you will appreciate their sacrifices and their bloodshed wouldn't be put to naught.

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    Take Note: There Are Two Parking Areas

    by cyndymc Written Sep 25, 2009
    Most Tourists Park Their Cars Infront of This
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    Most of the time, vehicles automatically drive straight to the parking area infront of the stairway to the Flag Pole and Colonnade. If you park there, you have to traverse the 14 flights of zigzagging stone-laden path and stairs at the back of the Colonnade to go up to the Memorial Cross. While the refreshing wind and trees make the climb easier, it could be a really challenging climb.

    The other option is at the helipad which can be reached by making a right turn (well, almost U-turn) just after the entrance gate. This is the more convenient parking area for senior citizens and physically-challenged tourists. From there, the Memorial Cross is just a few steps up the concrete stairs.

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    Prepare Exact Amount for Entrance & Parking Fees

    by cyndymc Written Sep 25, 2009

    To avoid delay and inconvenience at the gate, prepare exact change for your entrance & parking fees: P20/pax entrance fee for local tourists (slightly higher for foreigners); P20 parking fee for car. I noticed that there is a discount for students and senior citizens, but for teenagers, the gatekeeper will automatically charge the same rate for adults. Perhaps, they give the student discount rate for field trips only.

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    Watch for The Km.19 Death March Marker

    by cyndymc Written Sep 25, 2009
    Km. 19 Death March Marker

    Coming from Balanga, keep a watchful eye on the left side of the road and watch for the Km. 19 Death March Marker. This commemorates the site of the historical battle between the Filipino & American soldiers of USAFFE and the Japanese Forces.

    A short distance from this marker is the road going up to the Shrine of Valor.

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    Dambana ng Kagitingan Shrine

    by machomikemd Updated Sep 15, 2008

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    Bataan is Famous Around the World due to the Bataan Death March and Due to the Valor of Philippine and American Troops under the USAFEE who fought a delaying action in the Bataan Peninsula agianst the Japanese Imperial Army that delayed their plans and saved Australia from Invasion. This Shrine is consecrated to the valor of fighting men who endured that savage death march and as a testament of the Indomitable spirit of freedom. Dambana ng Kagitingan Shrine also has a 30 story huge white cross that stands as a mute but eloquent reminder of the men who died there. It also acts as a tourist attraction with a war museum nearby that has a wide array of displays from paintings of the Philippine heroes to armaments used by the American, Filipino and Japanese forces during the heat of the battle.

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    Visit the Memorial Cross

    by pres_16 Updated Nov 13, 2007
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    Going up to the top of the cross is supposed to be the highlight of visiting Mt. Samat. During our visit, we were dissapointed because the service elevator was not working, still under repair, so we were not able to go up. The management also did not allow the visitors to use the stairs.

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    Hike Up the Stairs

    by pres_16 Updated Nov 13, 2007
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    Hiking up the stairs is really tiring that you need to stop for a while and take a rest. Resting lets you notice the beautiful sorroundings or anything that catches your attention, take pictures, and then you'll notice that hiking is turning out to be fun at all.

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    The View

    by i-s-a Updated Nov 8, 2007

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    Great view especially towards the Mariveles side. Greeneries and what was left of it. On a clear day (minus fog or smog ... whatever) you may see as far as Pampanga towards North and Manila at the East.

    From here you may also see NPC's power plants and Petron refinery.

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