PILAR, BATAAN- With the advent of the 21st century, many believe the luster and meaning of Bataan as a national symbol has faded among the younger generations today. The Philippines stands to lose not just a vibrant piece of its history and a point of tourist interest but also a potent vehicle for rallying Filipinos around its majestic Flag.
With this challenges, Bataan Governor Albert Garcia sought the help of the Department of Tourism guided by Republic Act 7668 declaring Mt. Samat as a tourism spot “to preserve and conserve the natural beauty and historical importance of the place” (as stated in Section 1).
It was authored by the late Bataan Congressman Dominador Venegas.
Mt. Samat is Dambana ng Kagitingan or Shrine of Valor in Pilar, Bataan. This enormous complex has a marbled colonnade, museum and a towering Memorial Cross reminding us of the heroism of the Filipino people. Rising 555 meters above sea level, the cross has a viewing gallery that allows an unobstructed scenic view of Bataan.
Section 2 of the said law states that: “The Department of Tourism, in coordination with other government agencies concerned, shall prepare, within one year from the approval of this Act, a tourism development plan involving the construction, installation and/or maintenance of such appropriate facilities and infrastructure as shall encourage tourism in the area.”
As mandated by RA 7668, DOT should create a masterplan of Mt. Samat and its environs.
Governor Garcia told newsmen here that the master plan will be an essential guide or instrument of Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the development of Mt. Samat.
“Mt. Samat once declared as TEZ (tourism economic zone) can transform the present area into a economic-tourism area. We will be able to better preserve and protect the national shrine and at the same time maximize its potential as a tourism spot and possible earning asset of Bataan and of the country as well,” Garcia said.
Recently, the DOT and TIEZA officials has conducted ocular inspections in Mt. Samat and its surrounding areas nearby.
Undersecretary Victoria Jasmin of the Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation of DOT and Atty. Joy Bulauitan, the Assistant Chief Operating Officer for Tourism Enterprise Zone Management were joined by Bataan local officials led by Gov. Garcia in the ocular inspection.
The Freeport Area of Bataan and the ”coves of five fingers” (both in Mariveles town), Bataan National Park where the Mt. Natib is located, and the Bagac-Mariveles Road were also inspected for the proposed comprehensive Bataan Tourism Master Plan.
TIEZA will be the agency that will fund the master plan.