This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Philippines: Day Six

 Today's adventure was a trip to Mt. Samat. It would just be Tim, me and my cousins Jhun.

Jhun has been my lucky charm. When we flew to London in 2008, it was Jhun who picked us up. He was also part of the group that picked us up from Manila. He is also a cyclist - mountain biking, racing, etc., which is a source of controversy for my Filipino family. Why on earth would anyone cycle so long, up a mountain, for fun? He is constantly berated for being too thin, working out too hard, etc. Tim and I are constantly defending him, to no avail.
Before we headed out to the memorial, we stopped at his bike shop, Bikeworx. He had business to take care of so I mulled around the shop. I am just ecstatic that I have a relative that is in this business. It seems strange to have this type of hobby in this seems foreign to me that people here would do this. But after seeing the area, it is prime for biking. Long roads, hilly and scenic. Forget flatness. We are surrounded by mountains. And during our trip, Jhun would point out places that he and his fellow bikers cycled and it's fricking crazy. DollarBill would pee in his pants at the opportunity. Ser
Race wall
The drive to Mt. Samat is quite scenic. It looks like images from Hawaii. The road is a tolled freeway that cut a three hour drive to Subic (the ex-Naval base) to about 40 minutes. It cuts through mountain areas, rice fields, and just a jungle of banana, mango, and other fruit trees. Amazing and breathtaking, to say the least. 

Rice and bananas with a beautiful mountain background. 
 During the drive, you could see Mt. Samat because of the big cross at the top of it. I couldn't believe we were actually going to walk to the top of this thing. I was making myself brave because I have a pretty big fear of heights. No matter, I was going to do it even if I was scared. 

There was quite a bit of overcast, which actually was nice because it made it much cooler. The monument is amazing. There is a great deal of care for this shrine and it's impressive, to say the least. 

These are the steps to the marble colonnade wasn't too bad. I counted them but since forgot the number. I truly thought this was what would be the climb to the cross: a lot of stairs.  

This is the colonnade. The ends of the walls have the history of what occurred here etched into it. This was one of the last strongholds in the battle of Bataan, during WWII. Filipino and American soldiers fought the Japanese forces, but to no avail.  A surrender ensued and thus, led up to the Bataan Death March. There are markers throughout the town, marking the path of this death march. 

 View from the colonnade. 

Close-up of one of the inscriptions. 
As I mentioned, I thought there were stairs to the top of mountain, where the cross is located. Instead, I was greeted with this beautiful, but steep and wind-y path. 
They do a very decent job of not making this too scary. You can see, in the photo, that the path is lined with greenery, which blocks out the height and gives a sense of security. At least for me. I had no problem walking up but I also had a very patient Tim, who made sure I didn't go too fast, walk with gigantic strides, and just take my time and try to enjoy the moment.  
Once at the top, another amazing view is there for more awe. The cross, when up-close-and-personal, is very difficult to see without straining the neck. 

 The bottom of the cross, on all sides, are depictions of the battle. 

The view. The outline is the coastline, which again, is difficult to see even in real life, let alone the photo. 

 The dedication of this ememorial, from then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1966. 

The evening took us to the town of San Fernando. This was a town that I always went through, on my way to the barrio to see my grandpa (see Day Five post). My Auntie Tess was invited to bring us to friends related to her friends from London. One of our hosts was from London, but was visiting his family. 

They have an amazing home and treated us to a wonderful Filipino feast. We later learned that the hostess panicked when she saw Tim. She wasn't expecting an american and shrieked that she had cooked the wrong food. Little did they know that Tim is not the typical American they are used to here, and is in fact, much more of an adventurous eater than I am. 

 Our hosts actually fed us first. We partied until 9PM, where they would eat after we left.

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