"Mixed Emotions At Pilar, Bataan" Pilar by cyndymc

Pilar Travel Guide: 49 reviews and 199 photos

Remembering My Father

Instead of going directly to the beach resort in Bagac, we decided to go to Pilar to bring my grandson to the Shrine of Valor at Mt. Samat. From the national road, we saw that the tip of the Memorial Cross was covered with clouds. We prayed that it wouldn't rain yet so we could proceed to the Shrine. My grandson had looked forward to seeing the Shrine built to pay tribute to the heroic acts of soldiers like his greatgrandfather.

The somber, overcast skies reinforced my feeling of nostalgia. My father was a member of the United States Armed Forces of the Fareast (USAFFE) and he was among the Filipino and American soldiers who fought one of the world's fiercest battles. He was a member of the artillery force. After the fateful Fall of Bataan, he was among those who were surrendered by the American Forces, and was one of those who suffered the cruel, inhumane treatment of the Japanese Army. As fate would have it, he survived the infamous Death March. Each time the keloids on his bullet wound scars ached, his heart also ached as he remembered his many comrades who died either of hunger, illness or cruel acts of the Japanese.

The only nice thing that happened during the Death March was when my father met my mother's brother. He took pity on my uncle who was suffering from dysentery and malaria. He assisted him during the long march, and at the camp, he took care of him. After the Liberation, his works of kindness towards my uncle reached my mother, aunt and grandmother... That started my parent's love story.

My grandson and I climbed the zigzagging uphill footpath and patiently waited for our turn to go up the viewing gallery. Alas, the clouds covered the tip of the Memorial Cross, so we weren't able to view the landscape below. As we went down back to the Colonnade, my grandson read the inscriptions on the wall of the Esplanade. When he saw that I was misty-eyed, he comforted me and told me I should be proud that my father was part of history. We had wanted to go down to the Museum, but since we were running late for our next schedule, we decided to pass off the opportunity and just go back when we have time.

Despite the dark clouds that loomed over its tip, the Memorial Cross stood high and mighty, as if proudly saying to the world that despite the Fall of Bataan, the spirit of gallantry and valor of the USAFFE soldiers, and their love for freedom live on...

  • Last visit to Pilar: Sep 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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