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Dambana ng Kagitingan

(THE SHRINE OF VALOR)
Mt. Samat, Pilar
Bataan, Philippines

     The Dambana ng Kagitingan, as completed and inaugurated in 1970, consists of the Colonnade and the huge Memorial Cross.
    
The Colonnade is a marble-capped structure with an altar, esplanage and a museum. There are several historical

depictions on the Colonnade which include the following: stained glass mural behind the altar, 19 scriptural marble reliefs parapet, 18 bronze insignias of USAFFE Division Units, 2 bronze urns (symbolic of the eternal flame), 18 flag poles with colors of USAFFE Division/Units and inscriptions of the "Battle of Bataan".
     The Memorial Cross is a towering structure (555 meters above sea level) of steel and reinforced concrete with an elevator and viewing gallery (arm of the cross). The height of the Cross is 92 meters from the base. The height of the arms is 74 meters from the base. The length of the arm is 30 meters (15 meters on each side). The viewing gallery is 18 by 90 foot with a 7-foot clearance. The exterior finish of the Cross at the base up to 11-meter level is capped with "Nabiag Nga Bato" sculptural slabs and sculptural bas reliefs depicting significant battles and historical events. Above the base, the Cross is of "chipped granolithic marble".
     From the Colonnade to the Cross is a 14-flight zigzagging footpath on the mountain slope, paved with bloodstones from Corregidor.

The Battle of Bataan
     As engraved on the north and south walls of the colonnade of the "Dambana ng Kagitingan" on Mt. Samat.
     On this ground gallant men chose to die rather than surrender.
     From all corners of the Philippines they came, youthful and brave, to make their last stand in Bataan against an implacable enemy which had marched through Asia. What transpired was a ferocious combat between raw, ill-equipped recruits and seasoned well-armed troops.
     On these tablets is recorded the epic, the truly unifying experience, that was Bataan. Let all who read this take pride in the courage of our race.
     Fighting valiantly, the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) led by General Douglas MacArthur was thorwn back in fierce actions by the advance of the enemy. Retreat to Bataan was inevitable. On this peninsula, the defending forces, following War Plan Orange 3, regrouped for the last stand against the invaders. 
     Delaying actions were fought to permit withdrawal to the peninsula, the bloodiest of which was fought by the 11th and 21st divisions on the Porac-Guagua line.
     The 26th Calvary Regiment protected the west flank of the 21st Division. As the entire USAFFE struggled from south and north toward the Layac junction, the only approach to Bataan, the delaying forces held its line open and unprepared ground. From 1 January to 5 January they stood fast against massive enemy aerial and artillery bombardment, concentrated tank attacks and banzai charges. Casualties on both sides are heavy.
     The first defensive line in Bataan was the Hermosa-Dinalupihan line where on 6 January 1942 the 71st Division, the American 31st Infantry Regiment, and the 26th Calvary Regiments fought off the pursiong enemy.
     The aim of War Plan Orange 3 was to resist the enemy on the Bataan peninsula to limits of human endurance.
     The main battle position of the USAFFE, the Abucay-Morong line, was attacked along its eastern flank on 9 January but was repulsed by the 57th Regimental Combat team, reinforced by the 21st Infantry of the 21st Division.
     On 14 January, the Japanese attacked the boundary of the 41st and 15th Divisions. The 43rd Infantry, holding the left flank of the 41st Division, reinforced by the 23rd Infantry, 21st Division, sharply refused its flank. The 51st Division withdrew creating a gap through which the enemy advanced to the Salian River, but was discovered by a patrol of the 21st Division. Elements of the 21st Division were rushed to the Salian River Valley and after a savage fight succeeded in throwing back the enemy.
     Farther to the west, the enemy surpised and routed the 53rd Infantry, penetrating deep behind the main battle position along the Abo-Abo River Valley. The enemy advance was held up by combined elements of the 21st Division of the II Corps Reserved, the 31st and the 51st Divisionon the Bani-Guitol forest area.
     The American 31st Infantry and 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts, succeeded in partially restoring the abandoned 51st Division line.
     On 15 January, the Morong sector, defended by the 1st Regular Division, reinforced, came under heavy bombardment. But the line was still held.
     A few days llater, the enemy penetrated through a huge gap in the Silanganan-Natib area and establishing a road block on the Mauban Ridge, thus cutting off the 1st Regular Division from the rear area. Gravely threatened, elements of the 71st and 91st Divisions and the 2nd PC Regiment repeatedly attacked the road block but failed to dislodge the enemy.
     Although the II Corps Sector had prevented a similar envelopment in the Salian River battle, the I Corps, the enemy landed crack units on the west coast of southern Bataan. The aim was to outflank and to isolate the frontline units from headquarters and supplies.
     There were three ferocious engagements; in the Lapiay-Longoskawayan point area, fought from 23 to 29 January; in Quinauan-Aglaloma points area fought from 23 Janaury to 8 February; and Silaiim-Anyasan points, fought from 27 Janaury to 13 February. Of the 2,000 committed troops to these battles, only 34 wounded soldiers returned to their lines.
      ON 27 January, enemy troops were discovered in the rear of the Orion-Bagac line, the Tuol River Valley behind the 11th Regular Division, and the Gogo Cotar River Valley behind the 1st Regular Division. The series of engagements to eliminate these enemy salient became known as the Battle of the Pockets, fought from 27 January to 17 February.
     On the 21,000 Japanese troops committed to these battles, only 377 enemy soldiers were reported to have escaped. 
     After the Battles of the Points, Pockets, and Trail 2, which were brilliant triumphs to the USAFFE, the enemy withdrew to regroup their forces and to wait for reinforcement.
      On April 9, 1942, at noon high, Major General Edward PL. King, Jr., Senior American  Officer on the battle-torn peninsula, surrendered the Bataan forces. The infamous Death March began, an ordeal which annealed the Filipino spirit. The night before the surrender, a series of earthquakes rocked Bataan. In the morning, heavy rain fell. Then the sun shone. The heroic resistance of the defenders of Bataan had wrecked the timetable of the enemy.


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