Many decades ago, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii by the Japanese, the Americans expected the invasion of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines. And of course, they did. When they entered Manila, the Philippine Commonwealth President, Manuel Quezon, fled to Corregidor and General Douglas MacArthur ordered his troops to head to Bataan, as originally planned by the American Army to defend the Philippines (War Plan Orange).
Why, Bataan? Because it’s the easiest to defend; with the mountainous terrain and only one coastline to watch over, the Japanese would have a hard time to take the Philippines through battle. Currently, Pilar is known as the Last Bastion of Filipino and American Courage and Bravery.
Now, the province of Bataan is proof of how far the Filipinos have come since the Second World War. Pilar in Bataan is one of the many municipalities in the Philippines that have preserved remnants of the war and continued to maintain the historical sites found there. And not only that, Pilar was once one of the landing docks of the Spaniards during the galleon trade.
Pilar is home to the Mount Samat, where all of the American and Filipinos soldiers had their last stand against the Japanese Imperial Army before they surrendered. In memory of this heroic battle and the sacrifices the troops made during the gruesome Battle of Bataan, the Mount Samat Memorial Shrine or Dambana ng Kagitingan was commissioned by the Philippine Government in 1966 for the 25th anniversary of World War II.
The shrine consists of a colonnade and a large memorial cross, right at the summit of Mt. Samat. It stands more than 500 feet above sea level. Also in the area, is a museum that holds many of the artifacts and remnants; including guns, personal belongings, and more owned by Japanese, Filipino, and American soldiers.
As further proof of the gallantry displayed in Pilar all those years ago, the government erected the ESPADA or Flaming Sword, which is a sculpture of a hand holding up a sword. This large landmark was built in honor and commemoration of the Filipino patriots’ bravery to fight for the democracy and freedom of the Philippines.
Also in honor of our brave soldiers, Pilar put up the Veterans Park which is found in the town’s poblacion. Other than that, however, Pilar is also known for having the longest zipline in Luzon. The Mt. Samat Zipline, located in the town’s highest peak, is one of the more popular tourist attractions in the entirety of Bataan.
Since most of the Battle of Bataan was held in Pilar, there are many more sites that history junkies can visit. This includes the Final Battle Site, and Battle of Trail 2 Capot Hill among others. These sites were the actual places where the battles broke out and several of our countrymen, American soldiers, and Japanese soldiers died in battle.
For the nature-lovers out there, Pilar is also home to the Dunsulan Falls. This famous tourist destination is absolutely stunning. The waterfalls itself rushes from a short height, unlike many of the falls found in nearby provinces. The cascading water falls into a large swimming hole where anyone can swim or dive.
Cold, untouched, and clean, the waterfalls is an ideal escape from urban life; plus, it’s surrounded by greenery and lots of trees!
So, if you want to get to know more of Philippine history and have a little adventure on the side, Pilar is a great place to visit all year round.
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