Bataan Province is a peninsula enclosing the Manila Bay to the east. It has played a major part in Philippine history as the location of the Battle of Bataan and the starting point of the Bataan Death March during WWII. It is where the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valour) Memorial Cross is located. The Cross is situated on top of Mount Samat and that’s our final destination in this post.
The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which was never activated, can be found here as well. It was the first and last attempt to build a nuclear power plant in the country, completed but never fueled. Well, the purpose of the trip was to visit some Churches so I did not get a glimpse of the power plant.
Here’s the 425-year old Santo Domingo Church, more locally known as the Church of Abucay. It is one of the oldest in the Philippines, and it houses the first printing press in the country which outdated any single printing press in the USA. What more? The Church is a living witness to the massacre of hundreds of the town’s natives during the Dutch invasion in 1647.
The church below was destroyed by fire several times in the past. The Parish of St. Peter of Verona in Hermosa became an independent missionary center in 1717.
St. Peter the Carpenter Cathedral (below) houses many statues and monuments of saints.
I also visited the Parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Samal built by Rev. Jeromino Belen, O.P. It was destroyed during the Dutch invasion, burned by the Katipuneros in 1896 to drive out their enemies, and was rebuilt in 1903 by Rev. Justo Quesada. Another interesting church is the Nuestra Señora Virgen del Rosario Church in Orani, more popularly known as Our Lady of Orani.
Roman Catholicism remains to be the major religion in the Philippines. Despite the many controversies the Church is facing nowadays, it continues its mission of perpetuating God’s word amongst the Filipinos. One interesting fact: The Philippines is now the only country in the world without divorce, the only one which still gives deep respect to the sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony.
Let’s now proceed to an important historical landmark – the Dambana ng Kagitingan or Shrine of Valour located on top of Mount Samat. It is a 92 meter high Cross built to commemorate the gallantry of the soldiers who fought for freedom in the Battle of Bataan during the Second World War. It took four years to finish this towering structure made of steel and reinforced concrete finished with chipped granolithic marble.
This Shrine has a lift and staircase which lead to a viewing gallery at the Cross’ arms.
Another important architectural feature of the shrine is the Colonnade.
“The Colonnade is a marble-clad structure surrounded by an esplanade, itself surrounded by marble-clad parapets. The outer side is covered with 19 high relief sculptures by National artist Napoleon Abueva, and alternates depictions of the war with 18 bronze insignia of USAFFE Division units by Talleres de Maximo Vicente, Leonides Valdez, and Angel Sampra and Sons. Each bronze insignia has a flagstaff for the flags of each division.
In the centre of the Colonnade is the altar, behind which are three religious stained glass murals designed by Cenon Rivera and executed by Vetrate D’Arte Giuliani of Rome, Italy. Four large bronze chandeliers hang from the ceiling, while inscribed in marble on the two lateral walls is a narrative of the “Battle of Bataan”.
A footpath that leads to the base of the Memorial Cross begins behind the Colonnade. The 14-flight, zig-zagging path on the mountain slope is paved with bloodstones from Corregidor Island. An alternate road also takes visitors to the base of the Memorial Cross.” (Source: Wikipedia)
There are many historical and religious places in the Philippines, and the province of Bataan is a good place to start. 😉 Religious Filipinos and soul-searchers or pilgrims normally do a Visita Iglesia during the Lenten Season. With a Passion or Way of the Cross booklet and a rosary, they church-hop and try to profess their faith and devotion to God. I think it is a great way of life, to reflect and witness how strong faith can make a nation.