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The Mount Samat War Memorial or more popularly known in the Philippines as the “Dambana ng Kagitingan” (which translates to “Shrine of Valor”) is located in Bataan, Philippines. It was commissioned by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1966 for the 25th anniversary of World War II, to honor the heroism of all the soldiers who fought and lost their lives against Japanese Imperial Army during the war.
It was 1942, at the height of the bloody World War II, when Allied Forces fought against Japanese troops in what is now the site of the memorial. Mount Samat saw of one of the bloodiest and most vicious battles between Philippine and American soldiers against the Japanese army and was considered the last stronghold of the battle. But after three months, with endless air raids by the Japanese and starving soldiers due to lack of supplies, Major General Edward King surrendered to the Japanese, officially calling it the “Fall of Bataan”.
After the surrender, over 80,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forced to walk a deadly 97-kilometer stretch from Bataan to Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac, earning its name as the “Bataan Death March”. The excruciating conditions combined with starvation and abuse left around 10,000 of these prisoners of war to die along the way.
The war memorial complex consists of a colonnade and a towering memorial cross. The colonnade is made of marble, designed by Lorenzo del Castillo, and features an open esplanade, high relief sculptures, an altar, and three large stained glass windows signifying ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’, ‘The Call to Arms’, and ‘Peace’.
The most prominent structure of the shrine is the memorial cross, which stands behind the colonnade. It towers 92 meters tall, with its cross arms at 30 meters wide. The monument is made of reinforced concrete and steel. At the foot of the cross are reliefs that depict significant historical events, including the Battle of Bataan for which the entire memorial is built in commemoration for.