As said in the previous article, I was not yet quite happy even if I was done roaming the Dambana Ng Kagitingan where I could already have the rightful claim to say “been there, done that”. Something was missing. I needed to know more of the how and why about this enormous place.
“Good afternoon ma’am, may I ask you a question”
”Ay, good afternoon, yes, of course, how can I help you?”
”What did you say the title of that mural was?”
”Ah that one is called ‘Nabiag Na Bato’ by national artist Napoleon Abueva, he was commissioned by the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos to make those sculptures specifically for this shrine”…
and so on with my many questions that she happily and readily answered!
So what did I learn? Ah many things that I wouldn't have even known if I didn't decide to be so forward as to accost this teacher hehe. Like?
This shrine was an idea of Ferdinand Marcos who saw to its construction shortly after his assumption as president of the country in 1966. Whoa! that means this was already on the way even before most of us were born! Yeah, am a Marcos baby!
Why Bataan? Because this was the last place where Filipino and American soldiers holed up during the war until they were cornered by the Japanese Imperial Army and finally surrendered. Afterwhich, the horrible “death march” ensued. OMG, I shiver a bit when I start imagining that part of history.
Why Mt. Samat? Because this was the very area in Bataan, where those soldiers made their bravest and final defense, though futile. I asked which part of the mountain and she said “right where we are standing, sir”. Gosh!
Then she went on describing to me the various parts/places of/in this compound…
The arms of the cross which is/are the viewing deck has a total length of 30 meters (15 meters on each side) and is 74 meters high from the ground.
The building (yes the cross) that is made of steel and concrete actually sits on a hill so that it is towering at 555 meters above sea level The whole compound is officially called Mount Samat National Shrine and is about 73,665 hectares which was also officially separated from the Bataan National Park Reservation in 1966.
2. A memorial chapel and hall of fame; now called the Colonnade. It has an altar, an esplanade (concourses) and a museum – where all exteriors are finished or topped with marble. Historical mementos and symbolisms are at various areas of the Colonnade like:
Marcos initially envisioned the dambana to have been finished and dedicated in time for the 25th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan in 1967. But funding issues delayed the construction such that, although the colonnade was already underway, the cross was not yet started. Just the same, the dedication of the dambana was formally done. The ‘finished product’ that it is now was only finished in 1970.
Wow! All those informations just blew me away! Guess what?! After hearing all those historical tidbits from the dear teacher, I roamed the whole place once again – this time, armed with the knowledge of what all those things meant.
Yeah, I wish that there’d be some folks like it is in Corregidor to annotate a tour inside this huge compound. Had it not been for the teacher, I was thinking I just went to see another white-elephant. But it is there for a big and noble reason. Best if there are tour guides. But just the same, it’s a wonderful place to visit and learn from. Gets your nationalistic fervor awakened and kept burning like an ‘eternal flame’!
More than memorable!