Thomasian Architects present plans for redevelopment of Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor

Asst. Prof. Felicisimo A. Tejuco, Jr., MArch and Asst. Prof. Mervin D. Go, MS, MEM of the College of Architecture presented their paper entitled “The Proposed Redevelopment of the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor: Balancing Heritage, Progress and Sustainability” in the World Congress of Architects on July 8, 2021 via Zoom.

The research paper, co-authored with the project team leader and environmental planner (EnP) Eli Paolo R. Fresnoza of the Capilano University – Vancouver and Ar. Maria Lisa V. Santos of the University of the Philippines – College of Architecture, was the actual master planning project of the two historical sites for designation as Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (FTEZ). 

Rebuilding history in the present for the future generations

In his presentation, Tejuco highlighted the significant milestones, plans, and programs of the development areas. As the center of the TEZ, the Shrine of Valor will forefront the historical and the heritage value of the area. Since 1966, the Mount Samat Shrine of Valor or Dambana ng Kagitingan has been a symbol of heroism of the Filipino soldiers who fought against the Imperial Japanese forces during World War II.

Tejuco added that the redevelopment of the Shrine will strengthen the historical and the cultural significance of the place. Moreover, the said project aimed to connect with the visitors through audio-visual storytelling of the famous battles of World War II, as well as to provide the future generations with lessons on the resolution of conflict and reward for peace.

Through the implementation of the masterplan, Tejuco and his team were optimistic that the Mount Samat Shrine of Valor as FTEZ can become the country’s premier heritage tourism attraction. The integration of the core principles of valor, patriotism, and heroism with the modern conveniences of a tourism-oriented, multifunctional destination will be critical to its success.


The redevelopment phase

From 2014 to 2017, the planning of the two project sites included the 15-hectare Dambana ng Kagitingan or the Shrine site and a 144-hectare mixed-use development of the Locator site, both located in the Municipality of Pilar, Province of Bataan.

Divided into two phases, the redevelopment of the Shrine Site will begin in the first five years, focusing on immediate physical repairs and landscape treatments. Then, the second phase will see the construction of new structures and facilities, such as the Center for World War II Studies, new administration office, café, and restaurant. It will also include stage enhancement.

Complementing the shrine, the Locator Site will serve as the income-generating arm of the entire FTEZ and the nearby community through its planned mixed-use development, which will involve agri-tourism, health and wellness, nature and eco-tourism, and sports and adventure tourism. Moreover, the locator site will also be anchored to the Shrine to provide a single experience trip through the establishment of tomb-like memorial, a remembrance garden courtyard, plazas and squares, and a green reserve.

This project is in collaboration with Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the Department of National Defense-Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (DND-PVAO), the Provincial Government of Bataan, and the Municipality of Pilar.

TIEZA, the lead proponent, aimed to showcase the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor FTEZ as a model of sustainable tourism development through public-private partnership (PPP). Under Republic Act 9593 or “The Tourism Act of 2009,” TIEZA designates the FTEZs. The FTEZs are highly sought-after tourism destination areas, where invested and established tourism enterprises can enjoy lucrative fiscal and non-fiscal incentives specified under the law.

Through the consultancy office of Berkman International, Inc., the master planning project was also a collaboration of planners, architects, engineers, and social scientists.

The World Congress of Architects is the largest architecture and urban planning event organized by the Union internationale des architectes (UIA). Originally set in 2020, the event was rescheduled this year because of the corona virus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic. Themed “All the Worlds. Just One World. Architecture 2021,” the assembly of professionals and future architects and planners was made possible through the Zoom platform. Incidentally, year 2020 was the 75th Year of the End of the Second World War and the Day of Valor.

Founded in 1907, the UIA or the International Union of Architects is the world’s oldest, largest and most comprehensive source of information on global civil society. Its founders include Paul Otlet, considered one of the fathers of information science; and Henri La Fontaine, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1913. Among its objectives, include uniting the architects, representing them at international and government levels, and promoting architectural education. It has been collaborating with universities, research institutes, and students with their research needs.

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