To be honest, I had no idea what the Capas Shrine was. I knew it was a possible side trip on our itinerary but I didn’t really take the time to research it, thinking that we’d probably max out our time in Pinatubo. So I was a bit surprised when we stopped by the road and saw an obelisk peeking in the horizon. I’ve seen this before! I thought to myself. I remembered on a trip last year we were on our way to Camiling Tarlac to try whitewater kayaking, when I saw this structure and asked my friends what it was. No one had any idea. It reminded me of the Washington Monument that I had only seen in movies or in pictures or TV.
Someone asked, “bababa pa ba tayo?” (“Are we still going down?”). “Yup, we’ll check out that bullet shaped thing,” was my answer. Camera on hand, I alighted the bus along with the other participants.
We paid the ten-peso entrance fee and walked our way to the obelisk, passing by the multiple flags that flanked the checkered path going to the monument. I don’t know about you, but I always get this heart in throat feeling when I see our flag or hear our national anthem, then a sense of pride would wash over me. Patriotic nonsense? Just patriotic? Either way, a good feeling to have, I think.
As we got closer to the monument, I noticed a circular wall around it. Once inside the enclosure, I saw that the walls are made of black marble and on that marble engraved along some quotes, are hundreds of names. These are names of Filipinos and Americans who died at the end of the Bataan Death March.
There was a somber mood as we walked away from the park and into the bus. When I was a kid, history lessons were nothing more than names and dates I had to memorize. As I grew older, these things took on a new meaning as I developed a better appreciation for it. It’s always great to visit places like this to remind oneself how lucky it is to be living in better times.